Activities for Group to learn to play together


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

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

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