Activities for Group to learn to play together


Barbara Stafford said: Feb 2, 2016
Barbara Stafford
Suzuki Association Member
Plano, TX
61 posts

I just started bringing my students together for a small group class once per month— only 6 students, ages 6—8years old. The big point of the first group lesson was about following a “cue-master” to bow, and start a song. The big point of the second group class is going to be playing exactly together with a beat. Could any teachers here recommend resources or activities I can turn to that are going to be age appropriate, engaging, and lead me towards helping the students play their music together as one violinist? I am thinking I probably need to do some general music activities, instead of violin-centered activities. (By the way, I am not going to be using a pianist accompanist anytime soon. The group is too small to be charging fees to cover that expense & Piano is not an instrument I am currently practiced at enough to dare try doing myself . So I am limited to leading just from playing the violin, or from conducting.) Thank you for any help!

Sarah Strickland said: Feb 2, 2016
Sarah Strickland
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Piano, Viola
Morgantown, IN
22 posts

Small groups can be fun!

It can take time though for any group to learn to play together.

I have found it is helpful to do several kinds of exercises”
~ visual—watching a leader’s bow.
~ aural—listening for the silence before beginning and after finishing, and also if things sound same/different while playing.
~ rhythm—working outside of the actual repertoire to develop both the theoretical understanding of rhythm and the practical ability to keep a steady pulse.

For the later, I have used a combination of theory worksheets and physical games. Little kids LOVE to march/run/stomp/clap!

With my Pre-Twinkle students I have used the Rhythm Train book
I photocopied, cut apart, and laminated the flash cards from the book. Popular activities have included playing Memory with the cards, or putting them in a row (train!) and having to stomp/clap/bow the rhythm while keeping a steady beat.

I have also used some of the rhythm worksheets from this website Even though it’s for piano, the rhythm, and even some of the note-reading worksheets are very helpful. Plus they’re really cute!

And from this website
I have students first look at a line and think the rhythm, then we clap together as a group. Optional to bow on open string. (Or they love “crazy music”, where they can play the rhythm on any note(s) they choose!)

I have found working separately on rhythm is really improving my student’s rhythmic “togetherness” when we play our Suzuki pieces together!

Barbara Stafford said: Feb 4, 2016
Barbara Stafford
Suzuki Association Member
Plano, TX
61 posts

I’ll be looking into these resources. Thank you so much for your reply, Sarah!

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