Weekly Practice Updates

  • Practicing is the key to your child's success in orchestra. Students should practice an average of ten minutes each day. Please read these weekly practice updates to help stay informed about what your children should be working on each week.

  • 3rd Grade Weekly Practice Update #21

     

    This week, we've started to focus more on reading music.  After playing the D Major Scale with the bow (p. 19), we played different songs on pages 18 or 19 to practice reading the notes.  We focus on two different ways to read through the music: memory devices such as "Every Good Boy Does Fine," and reading by note direction.  The memory devices can be useful, but in practice it can be too difficult for many students to identify the notes while playing through a song at a fast tempo.  Identifying when notes go up or down is a much more efficient way of playing and reading at the same time.  The general rule of thumb is:

    • When notes go higher
      • the note name goes forward in the alphabet, and
      • add a finger, or go to the next higher pitched string
    • When notes go lower
      • the note name goes backward in the alphabet, and
      • take away a finger, or go to the next lower string

    One common obstacle many students face is that they tend to look at either their fingers (mostly violins and violas) or their bows (mostly cellos and basses).  They often do this because they're afraid of making mistakes, but they often do make mistakes because they may not even know what note comes next!  I encourage you to watch your children as they practice and point it out to them when they are staring at their fingers or bows!

     

    Students should be practicing the D Scale on p. 19, as well as Mozart Melody.  If they've earned the purple belt already (most have), they should try playing it with the bow! 

     

    Students should be practicing at least ten minutes daily, and using the website will help them do that by allowing them to play the songs multiple times with different accompaniments each time!

     

    Happy Practicing!

     

    Comments (-1)
  • 3rd Grade Weekly Practice Update #20

     

    This week, many students earned their purple belts for Mozart Melody.  In general, there are two scenarios that lead a student to earn a belt for this song: practicing a lot until they know the song really, really well; or, just having a great memory for music and being able to play it without much practicing.  Obviously all students should practice consistently throughout each week, but students that don't practice and struggle with being able to play this song should simply start practicing more.  I find that it's rare that students who do practice a lot still struggle, but it does happen.  In these cases I will do my best to help them during lessons.  My point is, students need to practice!!!

     

    In addition to Mozart Melody, we have been working hard at combining the bow and the left hand.  This starts with Bow Builder 7 (p. 17), then continues to have students play the D Major Scale with the bow (p. 19).  Pages 18 and 19 have songs that we will practice next week - in these songs we'll focus on reading music so that students can continue through the rest of the school year (and hopefully next year!) learning songs by reading the notes!

     

    For now, students should continue practicing Mozart Melody (with the bow if they've already earned their purple belt with plucking) and the D Scale with the bow. 

     

    Students should be practicing at least ten minutes daily, and using the website will help them do that by allowing them to play the songs multiple times with different accompaniments each time!

     

    Happy Practicing!

     

    Comments (-1)
  • 3rd Grade Weekly Practice Update #19

     

    This week we started to really focus on Mozart Melody, which students will play for their purple belt.  We are also starting to work on reading music as we play this song, paying attention to how the notes move up or down from one note to the next.  This song should be played pizzicato (plucking) until the student is totally comfortable with the notes.

     

    Another thing we did this week was "Bow Builder 7," which is titled "Combining Both Hands."  Up until now, students have used the bow without the left hand fingers, and also used the left hand fingers without the bow.  For the first time, students put these two skills together by simply echoing patterns using the notes of the D scale.  This is something they can still practice at home, just by going through the notes slowly.  In order for this to work, students need to be comfortable and confident with both the bow and the left hand fingered notes (such as E, F# and G).  Once we are done with Mozart Melody, we will be only using the bow from now on!  

     

    Students should be practicing at least ten minutes daily, and using the website will help them do that by allowing them to play the songs multiple times with different accompaniments each time!

     

    Happy Practicing!

     

    Comments (-1)
  • 3rd Grade Weekly Practice Update #18

     

    This week, many students have earned their pink belts for playing the first bowing song "A Strand of D'N'A."  For the most part, students who have not yet earned this belt simply need to spend more time practicing it.  Students are only able to successfully learn to use the bow by practicing it consistently over time - only in this way are they able to develop the muscle memory needed to hold and move the bow in the correct way.  

     

    We've also moved on to Mozart Melody, which as I've said is the same tune as Twinkle Twinkle.  As we learn this song, we are also focused on reading the notes as the letters are not written inside the notes at this point in the book.  We've discussed how notes that go higher on the staff go forward in the alphabet, while notes that go down will go backwards.  Reading music in this way can help the  student play the song much more quickly.

     

    Please encourage your children to practice over the break if possible!

      

    Students should be practicing at least ten minutes daily, and using the website will help them do that by allowing them to play the songs multiple times with different accompaniments each time!

     

    Happy Practicing!

     

    Comments (-1)
  • 3rd Grade Weekly Practice Update #17

     

    As of this week every group has used the bow for at least one lesson.  In most groups, students have been able to play some of the songs on pages 16 and 17 of Essential Elements.  Doing this adds a new skill to the mix: looking at notes while playing with the bow.  Students should make sure to focus on the way their arms and hands feel holding and moving the bow rather than trying to look at their bows while playing.  The more time spent practicing the more quickly students will be able to develop the muscle memory needed to do this. 

     

    The next belt (pink) will be for the song "A Strand of D 'N' A" (get it?) on page 17.  This song involves moving the bow up and down to play on either the D or A strings without adding any rests in between the notes.  It also adds a bow lift, which is when the player lifts the bow off the string, makes a circle in the air, and then brings the bow back to the starting point for another down bow.  Students can also get a head start practicing Mozart Melody on page 15 for their purple belt, but they should be playing this song only pizzicato (plucking for now).

      

    Students should be practicing at least ten minutes daily at this point, and using the website will help them do that by allowing them to play the songs multiple times with different accompaniments each time!

     

    Happy Practicing!

     

    Comments (-1)
  • 3rd Grade Weekly Practice Update #16

     

    This week we have focused on finally putting the bows on the strings!  It's so exciting to finally do this after so many weeks and months of just plucking!  The first thing that students will do with the bow is simply play four notes on the open D string.  Soon we will add more strings and more notes, but for now, the focus is on playing with a clear, solid tone.  Students can play with their best sound by...

    • ...holding the bow loosely in their hands, but pressing down slightly with their pointer fingers.  This helps the string vibrate well.
    • ...bending the elbow and wrist more than the shoulder. For violin and viola students, the shoulder really should not move at all.  Cello and bass students should move their shoulder slightly.
    • ...keeping the bow in the "sweet spot" and parallel to the bridge.
    • ...keeping the elbow at the same level.  Moving it up or down changes which string the bow is playing on.

    It is so exciting to finally be playing with the bow, but students should still exercise patience when practicing so they can focus on the skills I mentioned above rather than going ahead and playing lots of songs with the bow.  We will get there soon!

     

    While we are focusing on the bow, students can continue practicing the D Scale, as well as other songs in the book such as Old McDonald, Jingle Bells and Mozart Melody - they should only play these songs pizzicato for now (plucking) until they get more comfortable with the bow.

      

    Students should be practicing at least ten minutes daily at this point, and using the website will help them do that by allowing them to play the songs multiple times with different accompaniments each time!

     

    Happy Practicing!

     

    Comments (-1)
  • 3rd Grade Weekly Practice Update #15

     

    Now that students have earned their blue belts for playing the D Scale, it's time to start focusing on the bow.  This week, a couple of groups got to actually play with the bow a bit, but most groups will do this next week.  When students first start playing with the bow, they will simply play four open D string notes, then four open A string notes.  This is just a way to get used to the arm motion and the way the fingers and hand moves with the bow without playing any specific notes.

     

    There are so many factors that make a string instrument sound good with the bow, including how much of the bow is used for each note, the amount of pressure is applied by the index finger on the stick of the bow, how straight the bow is as it is moved across the strings.  For this reason, it is so so so important that your children practice this basic skill consistently.  If they do, they will be totally prepared to have a successful experience in orchestra for the rest of the year.

     

    As I mentioned last week, students should keep practicing the D scale and also go ahead in the book by practicing songs on page 12-15 where they will find some familiar songs.  A Mozart Melody on page 15 is our next belt, so that would be a great song for students to continue practicing, for now just by plucking as opposed to the bow.

      

    Students should be practicing at least ten minutes daily at this point, and using the website will help them do that by allowing them to play the songs multiple times with different accompaniments each time!

     

    Happy Practicing!

     

    Comments (-1)
  • 3rd Grade Weekly Practice Update #14

     

    Most groups have now earned their blue belts for playing the song "Up the D Scale" on page 11.  The D Scale is something that we will return to throughout the school year, so it's important that students continue practicing it even after we have moved on from this page.

     

    At this point in the year, we will be shifting gears and focusing on the bow. We have already been preparing for this, but now it will be time to put all the skills together.  It's important to practice these skills repeatedly so that your children can develop the muscle memory needed to play with the bow successfully.  The main skills involved are:

    1. Holding the bow - the fingers should be positioned properly according to the pictures in the book, and in general fingers should be loose and relaxed.
    2. Moving the bow - the arm should move primarily by bending the elbow as opposed to the shoulder. This is especially true for violins and violas.

    Over the next few weeks, your children will start playing with the bow.  At first, this will consist of playing only open strings so that studetns can get accustomed to the technique of using the bow.  Soon after that, we will return to playing the D scale and learning more songs.

     

    While students are developing their bow technique, they can keep practicing the D scale and also go ahead in the book by practicing songs on page 12-15.  These pages include some well known songs like Old McDonald and Jingle Bells, as well as Mozart Melody, which is another well known song in disguise :-)

      

    Students should be practicing at least ten minutes daily at this point, and using the website will help them do that by allowing them to play the songs multiple times with different accompaniments each time!

     

    Happy Practicing!

     

    Comments (-1)
  • 3rd Grade Weekly Practice Update #13

     

    Now that we are done with Lightly Row, it is time for students to focus on the D Scale, which I mentioned in last week's Weekly Update.  A few groups already earned their blue belts for this song, while most students will do that when we return from the holiday break.  The D Scale is something that we will return to again and again throughout the year, so this is a great time for students to get to know it as best they can.

     

    Some groups also started working on their beginning bow hold, which is called Bow Builder 4 in the Essential Elements book.  As I said in last week's update, we will start to focus on the bow when we return from the holiday break.  I know that it has been a long road to this point, and students have been asking "When are we going to use the bow" since September!  The day is almost here!  I'm proud of all your children for sticking with it - trust me when I say that once they start playing with the bow, they will barely remember a time when they did not play with the bow!

     

    Please encourage your children to practice over the break if it's possible for them to do so.  It will be great to return from the break and pick up right where we left off!

      

    Students should be practicing at least ten minutes daily at this point, and using the website will help them do that by allowing them to play the songs multiple times with different accompaniments each time!

     

    Happy Practicing!

     

    Comments (-1)
  • 3rd Grade Weekly Practice Update #12

     

    This week, many students earned their green belt for Lightly Row.  It's so wonderful to see so many students practicing!  Chances are that if your child practiced this song consistently over the week leading up to their lesson, they managed to earn the belt for this song.  If they did not then there's a good chance that they did not.  It's so true that the more your child puts in to their orchestra experience, the more they will get out of it.  As the weeks go by, students that practice consistently will be prepared to move on to new notes, songs and skills, while students that do not will have a difficult time.  If you notice that your child is not practicing consistently, please encourage them to do a little bit more each week and I'm sure they will start to become more and more comfortable and confident in their ability to play their instrument.

     

    Most groups also moved on to page 10 this week, where students learn more notes on the A string (G string for bass).  Once students learn these notes, they will know all they need to know to play the D Scale.  The D Scale is kind of like the alphabet for orchestra in that most of the songs we will play this year contains only notes found in the D Scale.  It is something that we will return to over and over again, so it will be a great accomplishment to be able to play it.  The last song on page 11, Essential Elements Quiz: Up The D Scale, is the song that students will play for their blue belt.

     

    Once students learn the D Scale, that will be our time to move our focus to the bow.  This means that we will take a little break from the notes of the D Scale so that we can devote our full attention to the bow.  For this reason, it is so important that students are practicing consistently.  This way, when we return to the D Scale notes after our focus on the bow, students will remember the notes and not have to relearn them! 

     

    Students should be practicing at least ten minutes daily at this point, and using the website will help them do that by allowing them to play the songs multiple times with different accompaniments each time!

     

    Happy Practicing!

     

    Comments (-1)
  • 3rd Grade Weekly Practice Update #11

     

    This week, we practiced a new song Lightly Row on page 9 of the Essential Elements book.  Since this is a more challenging song that requires students to use both D and A strings (D and G for bass), we are taking a few lessons to learn it.  That said, some students have already earned the green belt for Lightly Row. I'd encourage all students to practice this song over the next week so they can earn this belt next week.

     

    We are also continuing to build our skills with the pencil hold as we work toward using the bow.  This week, we added Bow Builder Three, which involves moving the arm in the same motion that students will use when they hold the bow.  Practicing these bow builders are so important because they can help students develop the muscle memory needed to always hold and move the bow correctly; they also help them develop strength in their arm and shoulder muscles, which need to be strong in order to hold up the bow for an extended period of time. 

     

    Students should be practicing at least ten minutes daily at this point, and using the website will help them do that by allowing them to play the songs multiple times with different accompaniments each time!

     

    Happy Practicing!

     

    Comments (-1)
  • 3rd Grade Weekly Practice Update #10

     

    This week, many students earned their orange belt for playing the song "Rolling Along" on page 8 of their Essential Elements book.  This song is better known as Mary Had a Little Lamb, but it's only really recognizable as that song when played at a fast enough tempo; so students should really practice it even after they've earned the belt to see how fast they can play it! 

     

    Orchestra Karate serves many purposes in orchestra.  For one thing, it serves as a motivator for students to practice; they are always very excited about earning a  and see it as a great accomplishment - which it is!  It also helps them be clear about what skills they need to master as we learn throughout the school year.  Before we go for each belt, I show them a chart to explain which skills we need to focus on in order to earn that belt.  In Rolling Along, for example, students needed to play with a steady beat and look at the notes and not their fingers.  It will be fun to continue earning belts throughout the school year, and see how far we can get - the last three belts are black, silver and gold!

     

    We are also continuing to build our skills with the pencil hold as we work toward using the bow.  This week, many groups did Bow Builder Two, which involves moving the hand and fingers around to try and keep the fingers relaxed and in the same position, particularly the bent thumb and curved pinky. 

     

    Students should be practicing at least ten minutes daily at this point, and using the website will help them do that by allowing them to play the songs multiple times with different accompaniments each time!

     

    Happy Practicing!

     

    Comments (-1)
  • 3rd Grade Weekly Practice Update #9

     

    This week, many students earned their "yellow belt" for playing the song "Essential Elements Quiz" on page 7.  Generally speaking, students that practiced this song were more likely to earn the belt, while students that did not practiced tended to struggle more.  Please encourage your children to practice so they can earn these belts!  Since we had no school on Monday, cello students will be unfortunately be one week behind so they did not play this song this week.

     

    We also continued to practice "Bow Builder 1," the Pencil Hold."  While this may not be as fun to do as actually playing a song, practicing this daily will help us get that much closer to using the bow, which students are understandably eager to do; more importantly, mastering this early bow skill of positioning their fingers correctly on a pencil will help students to produce a beautiful sound with the bow once we actually start using the bow. Remember to have your children watch the video on the Essential Elements interactive website that demonstrates how to hold the pencil for this exercise (violin or viola video #4).  You can also visit the Lesson Videos page to watch a video I made last year demonstrating the pencil hold myself.  Again, cello students may unfortunately be one week behind in this as well.  

     

    Students should be practicing at least ten minutes daily at this point, and using the website will help them do that by allowing them to play the songs multiple times with different accompaniments each time!

     

    Happy Practicing!

     

    Comments (-1)
  • 3rd Grade Weekly Practice Update #8

     

    This week, students continued to practice notes on the D string by changing the position of their left hand fingers.  Students should be practicing all the songs on pages 6 and 7.  The last song on page 7 is called "Essential Elements Quiz," and this is the song that students will play in order to earn their "yellow belt" in Orchestra Karate.  Students should focus on three elements of the left hand as they practice this song:

    • straight and relaxed wrist
      • violin/viola: no "pizza wrist"
      • cello/bass: "don't squeeze the ball"
      • your children should know what those things mean :-)
    • umbrella fingers (fingers are curled like an umbrella over the A string)
    • fingers line up with the tapes on the fingerboard

     

    Some violin and viola groups also started practicing "Bow Builders" this week.  Bow Builders are exercises in the Essential Elements book that help students work toward playing with the bow, which is still several weeks away.  Bow Builder One has students positioning the fingers of their right hand on a pencil, which is much easier to hold than a bow due to its light weight.  There is a helpful video on the Essential Elements interactive website demonstrating how to hold the pencil for this exercise.  Go to the Resources tab on the top of the main screen and look for violin or viola Video #4.  Students watched this video in their lessons, and it would be very helpful for them to watch it again at home.  You can also visit the Lesson Videos page to watch a video I made last year demonstrating the pencil hold myself.  Students who have not reached Bow Builder One will do so within the next couple of weeks.  

     

    Students should be practicing at least ten minutes daily at this point, and using the website will help them do that by allowing them to play the songs multiple times with different accompaniments each time!

     

    Happy Practicing!

     

    Comments (-1)
  • 3rd Grade Weekly Practice Update #7

     

    This week the lessons were a continuation of what we did last week when students started learning to use their left hand fingers to change notes on the D string.  Most groups played the songs on pages 6 and 7.

     

    It is sooooo important that students practice regularly as they learn this essential new skill.  It's only through regular and consistent practice that students can develop the muscle memory needed to successfully apply this new technique.  I would just reiterate again the same thing I said last week, that the most important part of this skill that they can work to master at this point is the position as opposed to learning to play the correct notes.  You can refer to last week's update to see specific points about the position about each instrument.  Also, please watch the Lesson Videos page to see helpful videos in which I demonstrate and explain the left hand position for each instrument. 

     

    Students should be practicing ten minutes daily at this point, and using the website will help them do that by allowing them to play the songs multiple times with different accompaniments each time!

     

    Happy Practicing!

     

    Comments (-1)
  • 3rd Grade Weekly Practice Update #6

     

    The lesson this week was an important one, as students started to learn to use their left hand to change notes on the D string.  This is a big step, since this is the skill that will allow them to play songs that actually sound like songs, as opposed to just the open D and A strings that we've been doing for the first few weeks.

     

    As I told the students, the most important part of this skill that they can work to master at this point is the position as opposed to learning to play the correct notes.  This means slightly different things for each instrument, but the thing they all have in common is that there is a basically straight line from the elbow through the wrist to the fingers.  Students have a tendency to collapse their wrists in order to press their fingers down onto the strings, but it is so important for them to keep their wrist straight.  Here are a few important tips for mastering the left hand:

    • Keep the wrist straight and relaxed without squeezing.  For cello and especially bass, there may be a slight curve, but for all instruments, the palm of the hand should not touch the neck.
    • The fingertips touch the string, making sure the fingers are not flat.
    • The fingers must press down on the string all the way so the string presses against the fingerboard.
    • The fingers should all line up with the tapes.
      • Violins and violas have the 1st finger separate, then 2nd and 3rd fingers are touching
      • Cellos have all fingers evenly spaced apart
      • Basses have 1st finger separate, 2nd and 3rd fingers touching, 4th finger slightly separate.

    I know, it's a lot to remember!!!  That's why practice is so so so important for this week!  

     

    Most groups did not actually get to play any songs using this new skill, but I showed them the songs on page 6, which they may be able to learn on their own using the new notes G and F#, which are explained on that page.  Next week, we will get more into using these notes and learn more songs.

     

    Please remember to sign up for the Essential Elements interactive website.  If you have any problems signing in, please don't hesitate to let me know!  Students should be practicing ten minutes daily at this point, and using the website will help them do that by allowing them to play the songs multiple times with different accompaniments each time!

     

    Happy Practicing!

     

    Comments (-1)
  • 3rd Grade Weekly Practice Update #5

     

    We're in the process of wrapping up the first part of learning our string instruments, which includes:

    • assembling the instruments with shoulder rests (violin/viola), anchors (cello) and endpins (cello/bass)
    • holding the instruments
    • plucking (pizzicato) position
    • memorizing the names of each string

     

    The next phase of learning to play these instruments involves using the fingers of the left hand to press down on the strings in different positions, creating different pitches.  So far the "songs" students have been playing have used only the D and A strings, and honestly there are only so many combinations and permutations of these two notes that can be played before everything starts sounding the same.  Once students learn more notes the songs will actually start sounding like real songs!

     

    One other thing that students are going to start to work on in sort of a parallel track to the left hand position is reading music.  This will be an ongoing topic all year, but for now, it's important to know that each instrument uses a different clef.  The most common clef is treble clef, but in orchestra this is only used by violin; viola uses alto clef and cello/bass use bass clef.  A clef tells us which note goes on which line or space of the staff.  If you've ever heard of "Every Good Boy Does Fine," this is the memory device for the line notes in treble clef.  So, violin students have a bit of an easier time with this since many are already familiar with treble clef either from piano, or from music class in school.  Below I'll list the memory devices for all the instruments.  Most students have learned these already, so feel free to quiz your children!

    • Violin (treble clef): Lines - Every Good Boy Does Fine; Spaces - F-A-C-E
    • Viola (alto clef): Lines - Fat Alley Cats Eat Garbage; Spaces - Girls Bake Delicious Fudge (Always)
    • Cello/bass (bass clef): Lines - Great Big Dinosaurs Finally Attack; Spaces - All Cows Eat Grass(burgers - Thanks Tyler!)

     

    Please remember to sign up for the Essential Elements interactive website.  If you have any problems signing in, please don't hesitate to let me know!  Students should be practicing ten minutes daily at this point, and using the website will help them do that by allowing them to play the songs multiple times with different accompaniments each time!

     

    Happy Practicing!

     

    Comments (-1)
  • 3rd Grade Weekly Practice Update #4

    This week, many groups reached the end of their first page of songs in Essential Elements, page 4; some even tried a bit of page 5.  I'm trying something new this year to motivate students to practice, "Orchestra Karate."  When students successfully play certain songs in the book they will earn a different color "belt," just like in karate.  The belts are really just small pieces of colored pipe cleaners that students will wrap around their bows, but the real point is to motivate them to practice important songs so that they are able to master all the skills needed to become excellent string players!  The white belt song is #5 At Pierrot's Door, on page 4.  Some students have already earned their white belt, but most just learned the song so they will try for it next week.  I hope this motivates your children to practice!

     

    These beginning songs are meant to reinforce students' playing position, and to help them learn the main strings they'll be using throughout the year, D and A.  Starting next week or the week after, students will start learning how to position their left hand on the fingerboard, which will allow them to play more notes and more songs that sound like actual songs, as opposed to just using D and A.

     

    Please remember to sign up for the Essential Elements interactive website.  If you have any problems signing in, please don't hesitate to let me know!  Students should be practicing ten minutes daily at this point, and using the website will help them do that by allowing them to play the songs multiple times with different accompaniments each time!

     

    Happy Practicing!

     

    Comments (-1)
  • 3rd Grade Weekly Practice Update #3

    Having had no school this Monday and Tuesday, some groups are unfortunately a week behind; they will catch up next week, though.  Those students who had lessons this week learned to hold their instruments properly and started playing songs in the book beginning with "open strings" on page 4.  Open strings simply mean the strings without pressing the left hand fingers down to change pitch.

     

    As I try to remind students, the most important thing at this early stage is developing good posture and position with the instrument.  I'd rather have students hold their instruments correctly and play the wrong notes than hold them incorrectly and play the right notes.  That said, of course learning the notes is very important!  We will be starting "Orchestra Karate" soon, where students will earn a different color "belt" by playing certain songs successfully.  The first such song is #5 At Pierrot's Door on page 4.  My hope is that earning the belts will motivate students to practice more!  Your encouragement will go a long way in this effort!

     

    Don't forget to register on the Essential Elements interactive website so that your children can play along with the accompaniment tracks at home!  We've started doing this during lessons already, so your children should hopefully be excited to get going with this.  Check your email for instructions from me on how to register.  Students should be practicing ten minutes daily at this point, and using the website will help them do that by allowing them to play the songs multiple times with different accompaniments each time!

     

    Happy Practicing!

     

    Comments (-1)
  • 3rd Grade Weekly Practice Update #2

    In this week's lessons, students reviewed the parts of their instruments and the strings.  Some groups got to learn how to hold their instruments, while others just took preliminary steps toward that goal; these include learning how to put the shoulder rest on (violin/viola) and how to use the endpin (cello/bass) and anchor (cello).  It can feel frustrating in these early weeks to not be able to actually make music, but I promise it will happen soon!

     

    Next week I'm hoping that most groups will start playing songs in the book.  At that time, you should encourage your children to get in the habit of practicing each night for ten minutes.  Part of these ten minutes can be just getting set up - putting the shoulder rest on, attaching the anchor to the chair, etc.  These are essential elements (pun intended!) of a successful string instrument experience.

     

    Speaking of Essential Elements, please register on the Essential Elements interactive website so that your children will be ready to start making music as soon as we do that in lessons.  The website will allow students to play along with accompaniment tracks in different musical styles, making practicing much more fun and useful!

     

    Happy Practicing!

     

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  • 3rd Grade Weekly Practice Update #1


    Welcome to the first Weekly Practice Update!  Every Friday I will send an update to let you know what your children have been learning that week, and what they should be practicing in order to be prepared for the following lesson.  Keeping up with these updates will help you participate in a meaningful way with your child's orchestra experience. In general, I will expect students to practice at least ten minutes every day, or 70 minutes every week.  In the beginning of the year, there won't be that much to practice, so they don't need to reach this goal right away. Once we start playing songs, though, I would strongly encourage them to try to practice for that amount of time.  Students that do will have great success!

    There are several steps to get to the point where students are able to actually make music on their instruments. This week, students focused on learning the parts of their instruments.  Just like a car, string instruments have many important parts that work together to make the instrument function correctly.  Knowing these parts is essential to students learning how to play their chosen instrument.  

    Students also learned the names of the strings on their instrument.  Each instrument has its own song that helps students memorize the string names.  The strings for violin are EADG (high to low), for viola and cello ADGC (also high to low) and bass is EADG (low to high).  Ask your children to sing you the song and demonstrate their knowledge of the strings!

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