Is it just me, or does the time of Covid-19 online learning come with some surprising and exciting opportunities? Zoom lessons have required a lot of patience, for sure. To my delight, however, zoom has also brought some levity and community to the violin studio at VCU where I teach. Every Friday, string professors and their students celebrate another week in studio class happy hour.
It is not a formal requirement for our University studio class, but it has been an important part of all of our lives over the last month. Students look forward to it, and we have even had students outside of the University ask to join. The only rules for happy hour have been: bring your violin and an age appropriate drink of your choice (for toasting the end of the week). Pets optional but highly encouraged.
Along the way we are learning about ourselves, each other, and of course the violin. Games are front and center at our Friday Zoom gatherings. If you are looking for some violin games for gatherings of students or colleagues, below are some that we have had fun with:
Concerto Bingo à la Heifetz Party Game:
In advance of your gathering, send out concerto bingo cards like this one - you can make your own with an online bingo card generator.
During the happy hour, any teacher or student plays the first - ONLY the first two - notes of any of the concertos on the card - but as convincingly and performance-like as possible. Keep passing the bingo master until all concertos have been played or someone yells “bingo”, whichever comes first. If no bingo is called, start anew with more notes: performers play the first three notes, or first four notes, or more….
Name that Bach:
Students and teachers take turns performing the first phrase of any Bach Sonata or Partita they know, but muted in zoom. Participants perform silently, so that everyone can see them, but not hear them. The rest of the gathering has to guess what movement and piece it is. Clues and collaboration encouraged!
Ling Ling Playing Challenge à la TwoSet :
All players should come prepared to play the introduction of their solo repertoire. Challenges are collected in the chat room (everyone contributes one challenge, like “play at 2x speed” “one octave up”, “play while dancing”, “play left handed”) etc. Then it’s performing time: The challenges can be dished out in alphabetical order or a facilitator can pull names out of a hat. Participants perform (with sound) ….applause!
Adopt a player:
Before the group class, ask students to post two videos: The first is a youtube link to their current favorite player and the second is a video of themselves playing in the style of that player (any repertoire or the same piece). Their “job” is to copy everything about them - left and right hand mechanics, facial expressions, body movements etc. We use padlet for posting video links, but links can also be posted in the chat function if you want it to go out live. Playing videos through zoom doesn’t really work, so links should be played on participants native computers while they are in mute. Rounds of applause encouraged :)
No game is too silly in the time of zoom, and I think the virtual backgrounds and mute mode in zoom have some untapped potential! Do you have Zoom group games and challenges that you can recommend for group settings? Please share below. We all need a little levity and community building while we are at home. Happy zooming and as always, happy practicing.
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