Group classes are the heart of a successful Suzuki program. Activities should be fun and have a purpose. Unfortunately, it's not always easy to keep the ideas for engaging and effective group class activities flowing.
We've created the "Group Classics - Idea of the Month" page to share some of CAM Publications co-founder Amy Matherly's ideas for group class activities that have been student-tested and proven to help kids learn while they have fun.
Amy is a registered Teacher Trainer with the Suzuki Association of the Americas and has been teaching violin and viola to students, ranging from four year olds to adults, for over thirty years. We think she has some ideas you might like!
Idea of the Month
Feeling the Beat
Purpose: To develop an awareness of the beat in music
Set-up: Students sit in a circle
T: Underneath music there is a beat. The beat keeps the music going in the same way that the beating of our heart keeps us going.
Play a piece from your class’ current repertoire without a beat - playing the notes at random times but in order
T: Do you recognize this song?
Give me a steady beat (tap hands on knees) and I’ll play it again.
The beat is the foundation of a piece of music. Building the piece you are playing on a steady beat gives it life and energy.
(1) Find the Beat - Play various musical examples and have students tap the beat.
(2) Who Took the Cookie? - In this classic game, students recite a childhood chant while
keeping a beat.
Detailed written instructions can be found here: http://supersimplelearning.com/songs/original-series/two/who-took-the-cookie/
(3) Pass the Ball - Introduce students to the metronome and then use it to set a beat. Pass
a ball around the circle to that beat. How many passes can the class complete? How fast can they get?
(4) Twinkle Pass – Students stand with their violins
Play Twinkle Variation A, each student playing one rhythmic unit , passing
it around the circle. Keep it going - don't drop the ball!
Try this with all of the Variations and the Theme.
(5) March and Play - March the beat while playing a piece – a challenge at any level!
It’s enough for most Twinkle level students to march while the teacher plays, but everyone else should do both. Get the feet going first and then start playing.
(6) You Be the Metronome! - Choose a piece that everyone knows
Students take turns being the Metronome – deciding what the beat will be and tapping it on a drum while the rest of the class plays the piece.
(7) The Wheel - The goal here is to form a wheel and "turn it" to the beat of the music
Form a human wheel:
- students and teacher sit on the floor in a circle
- their legs straight out (the spokes)
- their feet touching in the middle of the circle (the hub)
- the palms of their hands placed on the floor beside their hips
Practice "turning the wheel"
- Choose a direction
- To get the wheel moving, everyone lifts up their bottom with the beat and moves one space in the chosen direction on the next beat, keeping their feet touching in the middle
Now you're ready!
- Choose a student to play a piece
- As they play, teacher taps the beat so everyone knows what it is
- Then, Go!
When things get bogged down, switch directions
Have the students take turns playing the piece
My students love this game – both being a part of the wheel and playing to turn it.
Feeling the Beat
This Idea of the Month should be subtitled "I Got Rhythm"! That's what your students will be saying while they're enjoying this great series of fun and instructive activities designed to help them feel the beat.
Group Classics - Idea of the Month #6
Discover one of the most powerful ways to bring new energy and enthusiasm to your group classes and individual lessons.
The perfect mix of fun and learning, Really Great Reels offers lead sheets, arrangements and teaching points for 14 field-tested fiddle tunes, selected for their appeal and technical challenges appropriate to four designated skill levels. And these arrangements make for a fun finale to any recital - big smiles and feet tapping all around!!