Experimental Teaching Structure

June 8, 2021, 8:28 PM · So, I was thinking about this idea before the coronavirus hit, due to the limitations I had found in teaching beginners. Sadly, right around the time I was planning to implement it, Covid hit so it became impossible, and about 6 months later I quit teaching altogether.

Now, I'm spending a lot of my time inventing, but I do miss teaching. And since most adults I know have been fully vaccinated, I thought it might be a possibility to try this idea.

Here's the basis of the concept: Lessons are oriented around a 4-person group rather than individuals. 1-on-1 lessons would still happen once per week, but there would be another lesson where the same 4 people met for an hour-long "rehearsal" each week. I would probably use Samuel Applebaum's graded duet series "beautiful music for two string instruments", and would have 2 of the students play 1st violin and the other 2 would play 2nd violin (in this way, the weaker play can always follow the stronger player in either part, and there's a bit of redundancy).


Monday, each of the 4 players has a 30-minute private lesson where we go over their part in the duet, and other auxiliary things like scales, etudes, etc... But the real goal of this lesson is to make sure they have the tools to be able to fulfill their role in the "quartet".

Thursday, all 4 of the players show up at the same time and have a 1-hour group "rehearsal" where they attempt to play their respective parts in conjunction with each other. In this lesson, we focus more on the general concepts involved in effectively playing together. Things like rhythm, tempo, and listening are emphasized.

The big idea here is that a 4-person group has the social benefits that something like an orchestra or suzuki group has, but without the problems that tend to come along with larger groups of kids. Individual voices can still be heard and appropriate teacher input can be given to address issues. And the players can learn from each other. There's a sense of camaraderie because it will always be the same 4 players, effectively forming a "band" or "quartet" of their own. If one falls behind the others, they will be motivated to try harder in order to keep up with their peers. If one races ahead of the others, they may be motivated to help the weaker players and develop leadership.

Now, I don't want to bore you by going into too much detail right away about this idea, but I just wanted to pose it as a general concept and see what you guys thought. There will be tradeoffs in this approach, certainly. One of the biggest cons I see is that it might "hold back" the rare player who is very self-driven and wants to improve at a far faster rate than the others. However, I've found that amongst beginners, this is a rarity, plus I can deal with it appropriately when/if it happens (perhaps by moving them to a more advanced group).

Generally, I feel that orienting my teaching structure towards the majority of students makes more sense than orienting it towards the rare exception. And my belief is that the #1 issue that beginners have on the violin is the lack of a *reason* to continue trying once they've reached a basic level of playing. Sure, it's novel until they get towards the end of Suzuki book 1, for example, but then things do get harder and they start asking themselves "why am I doing this"? I believe this is where team sports have such a huge advantage. You can throw kids into a soccer team as soon as they can run. And a lot of them are motivated to keep going because they enjoy doing the sport with other kids. Competition and camaraderie are both immediately felt, so even after it starts getting hard they've already built this social system that can prop them up to take them through that next tier of challenge.

But with music, kids often need to play for years before they realistically have a chance of joining a beginner orchestra. Even when they do join, the group is too large for them to receive good input on how to play better with others. I've seen plenty of kids that have played in orchestras for years and are still totally hopeless when it comes to counting (god knows I was one of them). This can happen for many reasons, but I think one of the big ones that is if they don't know what they're doing, they can just "hide" by playing quieter and with more vague bowing motions, and it will just generally go unaddressed. So I believe the "quartet" structure (meaning duets with 2 players playing each part) could be optimal for getting newer players to start effectively playing music together.

Thoughts? Suggestions?

Replies (25)

Edited: June 8, 2021, 9:13 PM · As an adult perpetual beginner I think this way of learning would be fun and useful even for an oldster like me.
June 8, 2021, 10:19 PM · Good to hear that, Ann!
Edited: June 8, 2021, 10:33 PM · I can actually provide some insight here, based on what I have seen this past year. During virtual school, my daughter and some of her friends have been doing distance learning from our home. One of her friends plays the violin (3 years or so), and while she can play, she absolutely hates it, and would quit if she could. She plays because mom LOVES the instrument, and her older sister plays as well. As it turns out, having the two of them together was the school strings teacher’s dream, as it is pretty well impossible to do orchestra virtually, especially when most of the kids are absolute beginners.

The strings teacher has given the girls a lot of latitude in choosing music that appeals to them (except for say having to do Christmas music in December, for instance), and they have both really enjoyed the whole process - working with each other, choosing the right music, getting timing and entries right, etc. Said friend is auditioning for the same orchestra my daughter is in, and I was happy to note that on her year end writing assignment, she said that she enjoyed playing the violin.

While this is anecdote not data, I did want to say that I believe that your instincts are right. If you can get the chemistry right, the kids in the group should help each other in all sorts of ways.

June 8, 2021, 11:02 PM · I did a similar thing when restructuring my program as distance learning for the pandemic: organized my Suzuki book 1-3 kids into 2- to 4-person groups that met usually twice a week (online), scheduled them for monthly separate lessons, and made practice segment videos for them and reviewed their practice recordings. (Book 5+ kept regular individual lessons; I didn't have any 4's at the time.)

A benefit I had in mind was that when you "play with" students on Zoom, you can't hear them anyway, you can't pause for them to take a little extra time on something, and even if you did a subtle adjustment based on something you saw, it's often hard to tell if they caught it. They may as well be playing with a recording of you. Beginner level children especially need an adult on their end to "be my eyes/ears/hands" and it takes more iterations of the feedback loop (give direction/example, student tries it, suggest what to change) to convey a physical concept. A problem probably specific to me was that many students were really not playing on their own very much (or were overwhelmed with life chaos at the start of the pandemic), so having their small group twice a week plus a larger group on Saturday ensured that the violin would be out of the case that many times. It was essentially guided/enforced practicing and I could do it for multiple students at the same time, instead of spending (wasting) screen time watching them individually stumble through stuff.

As you surmised, there were a few groups that really worked well in terms of social camaraderie as well as in level and progress. However, some students could not have a group because no one else was available of similar age, level, and schedule. If someone was a super practicer, they eventually had to leave the group - and if you were trying to keep the "same 4 players" in another group, would there be another group available for them to join, or do you have to disband/reorganize regularly? This is not my format currently but looking at my roster now, there would be significant reorganization.

When not using Suzuki or very clearly graded repertoire, I think the "rate of progress" could be slightly masked by, for example, covering a lot of material "at the same level" to give the "slower" learners time to catch up. I did have a few students (rather, their parents) who thought that groups were the reason they weren't learning much when it was really the low quality of their practice. Their previous lessons consisted of practicing the assignments from last week or last month or last year and I wasn't adding a lot of new things because of old things being unfulfilled prerequisites. They were "forced" into this setup because of my pandemic response but perhaps if someone chose a program knowing that it was group-based, it would be better. I have cello adults (parents of violinists) who in theory could do a group like you're describing - but good luck getting them all on the same consistent schedule!

My format now (online) is book 1-3 students have a weekly 15-min individual time and additional groups that are larger than 4. (I'm not sure what are "the problems that tend to come along with larger groups of kids" but maybe I'm naive or fortunate...) Four students who moved into book 4-5 during the pandemic have 30-min individual times in addition to the groups; I pulled the original book 5+ teen girls into a topic group occasionally but for social and progress reasons, I gave up on that.

It has been *very* effective to teach vibrato and rhythm reading online. When having physical and acoustic contact in person, it's easy to slip into showing them, doing it for them, keeping the beat for them, etc. Being online, I had to focus on teaching them how to teach themselves, and the group practices 3-4x/week for multiple weeks at a time didn't hurt either!

Edited: June 9, 2021, 12:21 AM · Sue, that's great to hear. I do believe that kids need each other for support more than they need adults, if that makes sense. It's just not the same when an adult does something with them. They need someone near their own age doing it to motivate them.

Mengwei, before I stopped teaching, I had thought a lot about the possibility of large group sessions on Zoom. I think Zoom has many disadvantages, but one pro is that you can get large groups together to practice easily.

I definitely see one of the big disadvantages being that it's hard to find multiple groups of 4 people who are going to be close enough to the same level to really benefit. And yes, inevitably players would come/go from the pre-organized groups of 4. Sometimes it would end up being a group of 2 or 3, and the teacher themselves may have to play extra to make it even.

Probably, a more flexible and pragmatic approach is to aim for semi-permanent groups of "no less than 2 and no more than 6".

And as for the "super practicers", if there wasn't another high-level group for them to move into, they could stay in the lower level group and continue to excel in their private lessons, so they weren't being held back. At that point they would take on more of a "leadership position" within the group of 4, and I believe that sometimes teaching/leading is the best way to learn.

OH, another benefit to my "quartet based" teaching concept that I forgot to mention earlier: I believe it would really help to prevent the development of stage fright by exposing kids to early, pressure-free performance in front of other children. Think about it: when you're rehearsing as a quartet weekly, you are constantly "exposed" to other players in a series of low-intensity, near-solo situations. I think this a much better way of getting kids used to other people hearing them play, as opposed to a low-frequency, high-intensity situation such as once-yearly recitals.

June 9, 2021, 1:26 AM · Sounds great. Sort of like Suzuki with harmony, the one thing I have always found lacking.

Apart from teaching more ensemble skills than Suzuki unison playing (though watch out with very little ones!) it removes another problem: the collaborative pianist.

All of whom are lovely people, but not always available and when available, expensive. (And they need a piano around, also not always available).

This way, you have more options, with having students play duets together for recitals, accompanying them yourself or having violinist parents accompanying them, of which there probably tend to be more than pianist parents.

June 9, 2021, 2:04 AM · Exactly, Leonore.

I also feel as though harmony is the best way to learn intonation, as it puts the principle in context.

And rhythmic skills would be put in context as well. With solo playing, I think a lot of kids don't ever get the rhythms very crisp because they really just don't see a need to. If they have a pianist (and most of the time they don't), the pianist will just adapt to the varying tempos that the student outputs. Meanwhile, the student is blissfully unaware that their tempo ever varied, or perhaps just doesn't care. But with other players involved, they need to play an exact version of a rhythm, rather than a rough interpretation of it. In this "quartet" scenario, rhythmic integrity becomes something to strive for, rather than an annoying, seemingly arbitrary task.

June 9, 2021, 2:29 AM · I do the same thing ,but in live lessons. I play the second violin'part of the duets and from 3 to 6 students play 1st violin..it is easier for students to control intonation and rhithm than in a large ensemble..for me 3 students is best than two for a voice: the intonations is easier..so,I agree with your idea
June 9, 2021, 7:57 AM · It sounds like a good idea and kids would enjoy it. You should go for it and keep us updated how it goes.

What are the Applebaum books like? I have heard of them but am not sure how the pieces are in the books. I am asking because I have an opportunity to teach a strings group this fall and am wondering if I should just bring copies of select music, or have the students all buy their own books that we would work through.

June 9, 2021, 9:59 AM · When you have 1 or 2 on a part, each player has to be more solid with their own part compared to in a larger section where it's possible for one to "hide" (that being a downside in that situation). A larger section that slightly disagrees on intonation sounds less horrible than two players on the part disagreeing (there is an acoustic explanation for this, I think). For these reasons, I think it's tough to put beginners in duet harmony too early. They have their hands and minds full keeping up with their own part and I just wouldn't also expect a whole lot of trying to mesh with another beginner, who may or may not be exact on their part either. It helps for them to play with a strong player (teacher) before playing with a peer or being the leader for a peer.

The kinds of ensemble skills I do with Suzuki book 1 unison are: starting together, ending together meaning paying attention to duration of notes, unison intonation of course, precision of dotted rhythms especially, matching length and placement of bow, and other articulation and style. Call it a sectional, if thinking in terms of orchestra.

In Suzuki fashion, I start book 1 harmony training by ear, such as having them play tonic and dominant chord roots in G or D major, either in a specified rhythm or changing on the beat, and we add the 3rd and 5th gradually for intonation. I think we as seasoned musicians can underestimate what it takes for a beginner to see the note, find it, and play it in time. When I used to play cello in a community orchestra, sometimes I knew I couldn't get to the note in time even though I obviously knew what it was supposed to be. My priority was to catch the next possible note and not play something when I shouldn't. Of course, I can scan a few measures quickly and know the "outline" of the phrase. If students could do that, they wouldn't be book 1 reading beginners!

My studio orchestra did in fact start with the bulk of students being late book 1 reading beginners, with a book 4+ player bolstering each section, but they weren't with us all the time. I guess I don't really deal with the downside of issues going unnoticed in a large section because I've had to teach them to pull their own weight from the start (3-4 players per section).

I think the hardest part would be to get started unless you have people in mind already or you're known in the area and people are beating down your door. Just by math, it takes longer to get 2 students (or 3 or 4) than 1. The first one has to wait for someone else to come along, they have to all agree on the second schedule, your first ultra practicer won't have a group to promote to, etc. What if someone comes along and wants private lessons without the group? I guess it depends on if you're looking for teaching work or for the "right" students. In the Before time, I had been starting young beginners in group only and would add the individual lesson schedule when it made developmental sense, and it was "easy" because a group already existed for them to join. Because of the pandemic, the next beginner I take might not have a group to start with so it will be an interesting scenario for me to solve.

June 9, 2021, 4:40 PM · Maurizio, actually this idea is also for live lessons. I think getting beginners to even approximately play in unison over Zoom would be impossible.

Rebecca, I think they're my favorite book series. About a year ago, when I was bored from being shut down, I did the first 25 or so songs in the first book on my youtube channel. Each song has a violin 1 only part with no vibrato or musicality (for play-along purposes), a violin 2 only part with no vibrato or musicality (for play-along purposes), as well as a full version with vibrato, musicality, and repeats, for general sound reference. In the violin 1 and violin 2 videos, tempos are stated and a metronome can be clearly heard.

You can check out some of them here:


An example of the structure:

Violin 1: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YB34K2BEq4k

Violin 2: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8gP5Tc1PinU

Full Duet: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3XXG9hYKClQ

Edited: June 9, 2021, 10:50 PM · I also like to do duets. It is more fun than using a metronome and tuner. I did some group sessions at the local college. My department added a required weekly group class in addition to the private lessons. I found that I was repeating myself so often in the private lessons that I used those classes for lecture-demonstrations on technical topics. Some classes were used for mock sectional rehearsals of standard orchestral excerpts. Then the dept. restricted lessons to only music majors, enrollment dropped a lot. When the virus hit it was an excuse to retire from the University.
Another alternate group activity is the "Fiddle Club". Easy two-part melody violins, with optional accompaniment of guitar and easy bass/cello. There are fiddle genres from multiple countries. This can be more practical than putting together a small string orchestra, with violas and bass.
June 9, 2021, 5:23 PM · Getting started will indeed be the hard part, Mengwei. To begin, I've already contacted my old adult beginners group and they're all interested. More than likely, that will end up being a group of 4-5 at any given time. They all know each other and play together, so they were really my original experiment with forming a small "loyalty group" (or w/e you wanna call them) and it was highly successful.

The origins of that group is a different version of my newest idea, though. They all had taken lessons with me for quite some time before meeting each other, but at some point I decided to encourage all of them to join an adult beginner orchestra, and in order to do that I figured that we should all go over the music together ahead of time because they were hesitant about their ability to play with others.

In contrast, my newest idea will be more difficult to implement. It will involve kids instead of adults (though probably not under age 7), and the long term goal is to be able to *start* kids playing music together, rather than it being a goal months or even years down the road.

In order to do this, I will probably have to produce my own "starting method", since even the simplest existing duets are too difficult for true beginners. I'd like to color-code the strings (Black, Green, Blue, Purple) and have this color code reflected in the music early on. As the music progresses, the color code will gradually go away because they'll be able to more easily identify notes by position. The notes/staff will also get physically smaller. Obviously, quarter notes only for quite some time, and maybe half notes, and then introduce 8th notes.

I think the applebaum "string builder" books make a mistake introducing rhythms in order of 1/4s, then 1/2s, then wholes, and finally 8ths. There is too much technical difficulty in playing slow whole notes, based on my experience. That should come later. It should be 1/4, 1/2, and 1/8, then maybe wholes.

Anyways, this has become a thought-stream now, so I'm gonna cut myself off :)

June 9, 2021, 9:49 PM · Erik this is an AMAZINGLY EXCITING idea and I wish I could have been doing that the past 6 years! It is just what I needed. My version is finally here though. I just started individual violin lessons over zoom every 2 weeks with a baroque-oriented teacher and (hopefully) in September will join a weekly adult baroque ensemble at the local music school. Ditto for my viola da gamba, except those lessons will be weekly at the school and by the same teacher who will lead the viol consort I'm joining there. Finally I'll be forced to count time and listen to and play with others. Your idea Erik is very excellent!
June 9, 2021, 11:26 PM · I like this idea, Erik.

Last year I was volunteer-teaching chamber music on Zoom during the summer, which was suboptimal but taught me some interesting things. This year I've been pitching a program whereby a 60-minute Zoom session gets carved into two ten-minute group bookends and then four ten-minute masterclass-style sessions in the middle. With Zoom on mute and the kids all playing similar/same repertoire, the kids whose turn it isn't can stay engaged by working their way through the same exercise as the kid whose turn it is.

June 10, 2021, 2:57 AM · I must admit, this thread has elicited some of the most positive responses I've ever gotten here. Thanks Will!

That's also an interesting idea, Lydia, and similar to some others I've had myself. I may actually incorporate that concept, since it's somewhere between where I started (the idea of using "masterclasses" as a lesson structure instead of solely 1-on-1), and where I've ended up in my idea. The only thing I worry a bit about is that some kids might lose focus if they have to wait around for 30 minutes while other kids are taking their "masterclass." The other potential issue is that 10 minute bookends might not be long enough to have a productive rehearsal. Perhaps a 90 minute schedule, with 15 minute group bookends and a 5-10 minute break in the middle of the two masterclasses might be optimal, if schedules allow such a thing. Plus the break in the middle would be a great social opportunity where the kids could talk or play. Lastly, 90 minutes gives parents long enough to actually get errands done if needed. Not that lessons should be treated as babysitting, but sometimes they have to suffice as such.

June 10, 2021, 2:59 AM · Re:“ In order to do this, I will probably have to produce my own "starting method", since even the simplest existing duets are too difficult for true beginners. I'd like to color-code the strings (Black, Green, Blue, Purple) and have this color code reflected in the music early on. As the music progresses, the color code will gradually go away because they'll be able to more easily identify notes by position. The notes/staff will also get physically smaller. Obviously, quarter notes only for quite some time, and maybe half notes, and then introduce 8th notes.“

Maybe it‘s worth to have a look at the Colourstrings method.


Anyway, I had to wait into my thirties until at least my third teacher played some duets with me. I‘ve missed so much until then…

June 10, 2021, 7:29 AM · Erik, I finally got the chance to listen to a few of the full duests from book one. They were beautiful! I can see how students would live playing these together and I'll start using them with students. I also like the fact that they are interchangeable with other string instruments.

June 10, 2021, 11:46 AM · Erik, you're really hitting my keywords! I had a chuckle at "experimental teaching structure" because it's all very similar to what I do already. I really wanted my early pandemic masterclasses to work but there was insufficient understanding and practical implementation among children and parents about:

You are supposed to be trying out what the "active" student is doing (you can't even do that in a physical masterclass where noodling is noisy and disrespectful!). You are supposed to be taking notes on what they are told about some exercise or some piece or whatever. You're not supposed to be passively staring at the screen "waiting" for your turn. You're not supposed to do only the things you are told directly/individually. The assignment given to one student should be taken as an assignment for all, and within the next few times of seeing me, you should have tried it and be ready for more specific troubleshooting.

I told parents that online group practices are like watching a workout video. You get more out of it if you are actively participating. In a live class, you can get immediate enough feedback to tweak what you're doing, and I still provided separate videos of practice items that they could pause and replay. If you have no initiative and are waiting for me to hold your hand (your hand on a screen, that I can't even touch) through every step, then it really is like musical babysitting. You think you aren't progressing when you aren't given direct attention but it's because you aren't doing the learning in between lessons. Some of this is probably my fault from not having taught and enforced note-taking.

"simplest existing duets are too difficult for true beginners"
Yes, that's why my true beginners play open strings as their duet parts to start, even though they are capable of playing/reading more. This is my Suzuki background talking of course but I just think reading taxes the mental capacity of beginning players so much that I really prefer to dial down the number and complexity of things they are focusing on. (For those who say "well if you read from the start, then you get used to it" - here is my anecdote: We had a student pianist join us, who I was told plays pieces that seem to be ABRSM grade 5-6. With the teacher's recommendation and permission, I suggested some pieces that might be grade 2-3. After a few weeks, the student really wasn't able to keep up, so there must be some disconnect with independent learning ability.)

I accidentally have Applebaum's Beautiful Music for Two String Instruments, volume 3 (3rd position, two violins), and have only used it as reading material for a few students. The instrument interchangeability would certainly be very helpful in my mixed studio of violin/cello though. I do wonder what the level is of the corresponding cello parts because surely it's not marked "3rd position"? Mostly I've arranged parts myself so that I can pick the repertoire, highlight any specific desired skills, tweak the levels for our needs, etc. or I use actual string orchestra arrangements and teach them to watch and respond to conducting.

I have a few more thoughts and observations about scheduling...

June 10, 2021, 3:57 PM · Haha Mengwei, it sounds like you put tremendous effort into teaching, which is excellent. I wish I was that motivated. Your students are lucky to have you, I'm sure.

We agree on many things, and I'm surprised you haven't found more use out of the Applebaum books! Especially because you teach multiple string instruments. I think they're great, but then again if I had the time/energy to do my own arrangements, that would theoretically be even more effective, and perhaps I would have used the Applebaum books a lot less.

June 10, 2021, 8:55 PM ·
That particular Applebaum book is stamped "property of [my little sister's middle school in another state]", which is what I meant by "accidentally" having it (who knows if she was supposed to have taken it home, and the result is my mom had it in her possession for decades). A few years ago, I did acquire a box of Applebaum books from a local violist who knew him personally, but I was already so well entrenched in what I wanted from Suzuki and Kodaly and string orchestra that other books ended up as supplementals, used occasionally in lessons or lent out to students for their self-directed use, rather than standards.

I remember someone having presented about Colourstrings in my Kodaly training and recall noting that the materials were hard to come by in the U.S. I was/am satisfied with more available reading options so never really looked into it.

Scheduling: Hour and a half rehearsals seem standard for pre-pandemic youth orchestra around here. The top youth orchestra affiliated with the symphony had a 3-hour rehearsal with at least one break. I had 7 class periods of groups, ranging 30 to 45 min, with 5 to 15 min break in between each (a bit longer for my lunch) and arranged them such that most students would have two consecutive class periods, one with a less advanced cohort and one with more advanced. The main orchestra had a double period for themselves just because of the amount of material we were covering. The breaks were as much for me as for them! (as well as for lesson planning and rehearsal agenda purposes) Because of the ages of children, I encouraged parents to hang around, but if the parent of an "older" one mentioned they were stepping out to do something, I didn't object. I was just wary of the potential of a child having an emergency without a parent around and being a sole proprietor, I'm not staffed to handle that. I don't think anything of the sort ever happened but it made me feel better able to focus on group teaching when knowing that a child's non-musical well being was looked after by their adult.

I found that the younger the students, the more likely they were to be interested in socializing. I don't know if that was awkwardness about age differences, or being in the presence of their parents so they were more inhibited, or what! Online, two younger girls who initiated (with their parents' help) their own playdate. It's amusing knowing that the younger one who is "more advanced" actually teaches the other one notes, which supports my view that it's unnecessary for me the professional teacher to "teach notes" and it's a better use of my time to teach the other things about music that a 6 year old can't. And yes, both of them have been around for almost 3 years and might finally get to do a "real [string] orchestra piece [with the big kids]" later this year - though they've been playing non reading pieces with the overall group ever since they were playing pepperoni pizza on open E.

If you can create a need and fill it, go for it! Plenty of students had come to me skeptical about why they needed group in addition to private. Of course, I'm in a position of bias because the ones whose minds were not changed by observing my program or the initial participation period didn't stick around. Once you get going, it's easier to keep going. It's a self-perpetuating cycle in which the ones who are committed to the group are more likely to stay and the ones who are not self-select themselves out sooner or later.

Edited: June 10, 2021, 10:09 PM · I must like the idea because about 20 years ago (roughly in the middle of the 10 years of violin lessons I gave my older granddaughter) she assembled a small group of her friends who played other string and wind instruments and we met weekly to play a variety of fairly simple musical compositions. I think we did this only for about one semester.

We ended up focusing on Haydn's Toy Symphony and practiced the instrumental parts (I had the score and parts). This culminated in a Christmas concert where we played the music we had worked on and then we handed out the toy instruments (which I had assembled) to the attending parents with some music-reading experience and had at it - all 3 movements of Haydn's Toy Symphony. This was a carryover from several times in my own childhood and youth when my parents and other musical friends got together at Christmas parties and did the same thing.

June 13, 2021, 12:43 PM · Erik, et al.,

You basic idea is excellent, particularly for adult beginners like I was over 40 years ago. I started with the goal of being able to play the soprano/descant line of Episcopal Hymns. A very modest goal that I achieved in about a year. Then my teacher invited me to join the orchestra that he and a group of teachers had formed. Playing with others opened up the much larger world of music to me - changed my life completely.

Regarding duets - I still pitch Doflein because each page turn has at minimum one duet and most of them are simple enough for the student to play both parts (The Bartok takes a bit more skill for the harmony part.)

In the end, playing with others is what makes studying an instrument worth the effort.

In these almost post-pandemic times, more-and-more people will be looking for ways to interact with others.

Tell us how this is progressing. I think you are on the right path.

Edited: June 13, 2021, 3:44 PM · Erik, this sounds SO cool...but I am at least 70 years older than the kids you will be working with, so I am crossing my fingers that your concept works out as well for the kids as it does with my string buddies! We do learn a lot from each other. The only thing I could add is that videos for the kids to watch and refer to from home might be a useful addition. I have been taking an online course from Nottingham England, Learn Piano Blues. The teacher has recorded a series of 69 lesson modules; each module contains a short video of the teacher explaining the lesson at a keyboard, and a PDF of music and text that can be downloaded. As a subscriber, I can access any lesson as many times as I like. This online material takes the place of a book, and works great on a tablet on my keyboard music stand. Just a thought for you... I wish you the best of luck at your enterprise!!
June 14, 2021, 3:56 AM · Thanks for the input guys! I'm looking forward to exploring this more, and will definitely keep you updated on how it ends up going.

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Discover the best of Violinist.com in these collections of editor Laurie Niles' exclusive interviews.

Violinist.com Interviews Volume 1
Violinist.com Interviews Volume 1, with introduction by Hilary Hahn

Violinist.com Interviews Volume 2
Violinist.com Interviews Volume 2, with introduction by Rachel Barton Pine