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Keeping Students Involved in Rehearsal

There are many ways to involve students in a rehearsal and keep them on-task while they are not playing their instruments. Asking students who are resting to "listen to the violins play this passage" is better than ignoring them while they are resting. Ask them to evaluate their peers' performance. "Are the violins playing loud enough? Are the violins in tune? Are they rhythmically together?"

Videotape yourself teaching a class, or conducting a rehearsal. Count how much time the students spend playing. Count how much time you spend talking. Increasing the amount of playing time in rehearsal is a simple and effective way to reduce classroom management problems. When you stop the students to provide instruction, try these strategies to increase on-task behavior:

  • Model and demonstrate for students by playing your primary instrument.
  • Demonstrate on a secondary instrument.
  • Use your singing voice if an instrument is not available.
  • Ask an advanced student to demonstrate.
  • Play a recording.
  • Fix one problem, then have everyone play again.
  • Instead of always rehearsing just one section alone, combine two or three sections - they can hear how their parts fit with other instruments, and you have three times as many students on-task.
  • Ask individual students questions about the music. Avoid asking questions to the entire ensemble.


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