Group Class

Megan Stallard said: Oct 2, 2007
2 posts

Hello all,
I’m a fairly new Suzuki teacher having just graduated from college and I have started my first full year of having a group class all to myself. I’ve found that the most difficult thing for me with this class is the range of students I have. Some of them are working on Minuet 2 while I have others working on Lully Gavotte. I guess my trouble is trying to find a happy balance in picking things to work on in class that aren’t out of reach for the kids who are working on earlier songs and that aren’t boring for those farther along. What would all of you do in this group class?


Jennifer Visick said: Oct 4, 2007
Jennifer VisickForum Moderator
Suzuki Association Member
Viola, Suzuki in the Schools, Violin
998 posts

maybe switch back and forth—work on several songs, some early enough in the rep for all to do, some from the later rep. Don’t be afraid to have the students who don’t yet play a piece sit down and listen (give them something to listen for—either a musical idea or an emotion or a particular dynamic contrast, phrase ending, or ask them if the ensemble was together, ask them to describe the emotion or mood of the music afterwards, etc).

Also throw in some stuff from earlier book 1 with “challenges”—can you play X from book one with no open strings, in a different key, etc. Something like: Let’s try perpetual motion in a circle: everyone plays one, two, or four notes and then “passes” to the next person in the circle (mess up? You start over again. See if the class can get to the end of the music, etc).

Do the more advanced students read music? Maybe you can have some of them work on the easy duet parts that are published for books 1 & 2.

Also, there are a few songs that can have the less experienced students “join in”—e.g., a musette is a bagpipe. Have book 1 students be your “drone” (open D) while others play the melody. Hunter’s Chorus: have book one students listen for the open D “Twinkle Variation “hop bunny jump bunny” section. They can play this section with the rest of the group and they can continue playing it till the end of the piece.
Bach minuet in book 3—obviously playing the first and last parts with the book 1 students (just be sure they know where the repeats are not!).

Debbie said: Oct 4, 2007
Debbie MiViolin
138 posts

Along with this-

Many fiddle tunes sound wonderful with open string “down pony up pony” drones going on as accompaniment.

There many be ways to do this sort of thing with many of the Suzuki pieces as they are really just Baroque fiddle music! (like the pieces RaineJen suggested and others).

Megan Stallard said: Oct 5, 2007
2 posts

Thanks for the advice!


Corinne said: Oct 15, 2007
 Violin, Piano
44 posts

When I was a Suzuki violin student, my teacher had several different age & ability levels at group class. Sometimes she would start with the easiest pieces and progress to more advanced literature, letting students leave as we got to repertoire beyond their level. Other days (when she had more time to plan, I guess) we would use “easy” pieces to work on a challenging concept or technique. We did some sightreading on occasion, too.

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