mixed level group class

Julia Ariel said: Jan 28, 2010
 Cello
1 posts

I have a group class of three young cellists who are at very different levels. one is in early book one, another mid-book 1 and the last, mid book 2. Unfortunately the student who is ahead of the others is very competitive about how much further along he is than the other two and despite reminders about how review is so important, he doesn’t seem to be challenged and gets frustrated. Are there any good pieces or games that would work well for this situation where everyone is challenged and not overwhelmed?

thanks!

Laura said: Jan 29, 2010
 
Suzuki Association Member
Piano
358 posts

Could the book 2 student learn to play harmony or accompaniment parts to the book 1 pieces?

Alie said: Feb 6, 2010
 Violin
Columbus, OH
21 posts

I teach violin, not cello but I did run into similarities in my mixed level group class. I did a couple of things that seemed to help.

  1. I wrote down the names of all book 1 songs on ping pong balls. I had a student come up and draw a ball out of the container. They would (without showing it to the other kids) describe the piece. I encouraged them to use information such as key signature, composer, starting pitch, defining bowings, dynamic features, staccato, legato, ritard, fermata, form etc. I let the class ask them questions along the same lines. (Of course the general inclination was to ask “where in the book is it?” and of course “does it have a number in the title?”). If the class guessed incorrectly, they all had to play the review piece. If they were able to describe it well enough that the class could correctly guess the piece I would then let them stand behind a blue line and take 3 shots at getting the ball into an empty wastebasket. If they missed, they all had to play the piece. If they got it in, we did not play the piece and the next child would then draw a ball from the container.

I found this game helpful because instead of competing, they all worked together and cheered for each other. It was nice to see.

  1. (Disclaimer: I am not familiar with the cello repertoire so I will explain it using the violin repertoire.) I teach a class entitled Suzuki Violin Book 1 with Extended Technique. It is made up of students ranging from Book 1 -3. Some examples of things I have done in the class include
    1. having older students play early book 1 songs in 3rd position
    2. older students omit one specified note
    3. older students use different bowing techniques. Instead of “quick quick slow” in Lightly Row I have them play “half half whole”. On Perpetual Motion I have them do 4 staccato notes per bow.
    4. I do group exercises such as cueing. Each child plays 8 notes of Perpetual Motion. On the last note, the next child “sniffs” to cue in. We pass the piece around.
    5. I break the class into two groups. One group starts playing the piece and when I clap my hands, it is passed to the other group.
    6. Mirror- I have the kids practice following a leader on a simple piece. I may vary my tempo or take extended pauses. They really seem to like this one!
    7. One person bows, one person fingers.
    8. Even the older guys still love creative repetition! We kneel and play, sit and play, lay down and play etc.
    9. So as not to leave out the older kids, I let them do some of their repertoire even if the rest of the kids don’t know it. It’s good for the less advanced students to be exposed to the later repertoire, and usually I will sing words to the songs. I find that if they can sing the words to the next book, when they actually get there they are at quite an advantage.

I don’t know if this stuff applies to cellists or not but in either case, good luck with the kiddos!

-Alie Joyner

Barb said: Feb 7, 2010
Barb Ennis
Suzuki Association Member
Cello
678 posts

Yes, I recommend the Suzuki Ensembles for Cello Vol 1 (arranged by Rick Mooney) for the harmony/2nd and even 3rd parts!

You might also use the odd easy fiddle tune from something such as American Fiddle Method (for cello http://www.amazon.com/Mel-American-Fiddle-Method-1-Cello/dp/0786674636) so that there is something new for the more advanced student which they can all play.

Barb
Music Teachers Helper—for individual teachers
Studio Helper—for entire music studios or schools

Barb said: Feb 7, 2010
Barb Ennis
Suzuki Association Member
Cello
678 posts

I should mention that that Fiddle Tunes book has optional more advanced versions of many songs. Using extended position, for example—same songs, just using different octaves.

Barb
Music Teachers Helper—for individual teachers
Studio Helper—for entire music studios or schools

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