TFO’s Teaching Artists offer tips on practicing and techniques for strings teachers and students stuck at home.
The exercises and videos below have been assembled by TFO’s Community Engagement team.
Instrumental Technique Videos and Exercises
Set Up and Technique
How to Practice – This sheet is meant to help guide students in their practice routines. It goes through the same step-by-step process that many professional musicians follow to prepare and improve their performance.
Tuning at home with fine tuners – This video and pdf demonstrate how to tune your instrument at home with the fine tuners.
Tuning at home with the pegs – This video and pdf demonstrate how to tune your instrument at home with the pegs.
Schradieck No. 1, 2, 6 – This video highlights how we can practice small sections of the Schradieck exercise from “Technique Packet Phase 1.” This exercise requires the use of a metronome, so check out the free “metronome” app on the app store or look at reviews on YouTube to find a metronome app that works for you.
Viola Kreutzer 7 etude – This video and worksheet demonstrate a few different ways to practice Kreutzer 7, the viola 9th & 10th grade etude requirement for All State 2020/2021. Use the video and worksheet together for best results.
Viola Kreutzer 12 etude – This video and worksheet demonstrate a few different ways to practice Kreutzer 12, the viola 11th & 12th grade etude requirement for All State 2020/2021. Use the video and worksheet together for best results.
This worksheet will provide an introduction to the following violin scale videos.
C Major 1-Octave Scale Practice – This is a walk-through of how we can practice a C Major scale to improve our technique. Check out the “Metronome” and “Tuner Lite” apps that are free on the App stores or watch some YouTube reviews to choose your favorite Tuner and Metronome apps. This video also references “Technique Packet Phase 1.”
TFO Assistant Principal cellist Lowell Adams demonstrates the F, G, A, C, and D Major 2-octave scales in this video.
TFO bassist James Stroup demonstrates the C, G, F, D, B-flat, A, E-flat, E, and A-flat Major 2-octave scales in this video.
For the Classroom
Group Practice Videos and Exercises
G major matchup – This exercise is meant to build group awareness of pitch matching and blending. The instruments enter in order from lowest pitched instrument to highest pitched instrument, with each instrument respectively playing a little softer so that they can actively listen to the sound of the group. Take your time going through this sheet and encourage students to occasionally stop playing so they could listen to the blend of the group and add themselves back in again. Make sure basses are extremely well tuned before starting this exercise. Click here to view the PDF.
Rhythm sight reading – This exercise is a great way to practice rhythm combinations and subdividing. Put on a metronome and have students clap the rhythm while vocalizing the subdivisions. A couple lines have the subdivisions written in, but feel free to practice every segment this way. Repeat each number as many times as needed, focusing on perfecting a couple per day until the class can confidently read the whole page. Once they are confident in the reading, have students play segments on open strings or give them pitches to make a nice harmony. If the bowing coordination is difficult for a segment, have students air bow to master the motions.
Bowing Sight Reading 101 – This exercise is meant to help teachers practice group bowing coordination (moving the bow in the same direction at the same time). Some of the patterns are meant to be tricky, so air-bowing the exercises as a group first is recommended. Click here to view the PDF.
Fingering Acrobatics Exercise – The fingering acrobatics worksheets are designed to help students practice common finger patterns in different keys. D major is a great start for practicing patterns; C major focuses on the low 2nd finger pattern for violin and violas. These work well for intermediate and advanced students.
String Orchestra Warm-ups– The fundamental exercises in these warm-ups were designed with the young string orchestra in mind but can be helpful at the high school level as well. The warm-ups can be used as a daily routine that builds individual as well as ensemble skills and precision. Exercises that focus on tone production, bow control, finger placement, scales, and bowing techniques are all included in this set of warm-ups as well as a chorale in G major to end the ensemble warm-up. If used on a daily basis and in creative ways, this set of warm-ups will help build the foundation of skill needed to take your orchestra’s music making to the next level.
Developed by Christopher Ellis, Director of Bands & Orchestras at Osceola Middle School
Schradieck Finger Exercises – This is an arrangement of the famous left hand technique exercises written by Schradieck. Violins and violas play the exercise as it is originally written, and cellos and basses mostly follow the same pattern, but with some small changes. This is for an advanced classroom looking to improve class technique.
Don’t have your instrument? No problem.
These lessons and worksheets can be used by anyone.
Active Listening Resources and Worksheets
How playing an instrument benefits your brain – This worksheet is for students to fill out as they watch the TED Talk video “How Playing an Instrument Benefits the Brain.” Included is a supporting lesson plan for teachers. The lesson plan includes the learning targets for the classroom as well as a list of the Standards of Learning from the correlating curriculum that the assignment supports. TED Talk Lesson Plan
Mad Minute is an exercise normally found in elementary math classes where students have one minute to complete as many simple math equations as possible in 60 seconds. In this exercise, instead of math equations, students have 60 seconds to identify 60 notes by letter name. Mad Minute 1 Mad Minute 2
WSMR Broadcasts – Every Thursday at 7 pm, beginning March 26, WSMR radio will broadcast live recordings of concerts performed by The Florida Orchestra, both from this current season and our archives. Tune in to listen at Classical WSMR 89.1 or online. Recordings will be available to stream for a month following each broadcast.