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 short guide will help students develop a good practice routine. It goes through the same step-by-step process that many professional musicians follow to prepare and improve their performance.
Open String Warm-up Video: Teaching Artist Kaitlin Springer shares the daily warm-up she has been practicing to overcome her “Quarantine Violacation.”
Dynamics Challenge Video – As we continue exploring how dynamics work on stringed instruments, we dive into some exercises that push us to the next level of playing with dynamics.
Orchestra Technique Packet Phase 1 – This packet contains the 1 Octave Scales that are on the All County requirements, it introduces the whole orchestra to Schradieck left hand technique exercises, and it also introduces the fundamentals of shifting for string players. Violin | Viola | Cello | Double Bass | Conductor’s Score
Orchestra Technique Packet Phase 2 – This packet contains a shifting exercise, the All County Scale Requirements for High School, and a more challenging arrangement of the Schradieck left hand exercises for orchestra. Violin | Viola | Cello | Double Bass
TFO Teaching Artist Kaitlin Springer introduces vibrato in a 4 part series that will help you get started and hone your vibrato technique. Get ready to add an extra level of artistry to your music!
What is Vibrato? – The first video in our series introduces the idea of vibrato-we learn how it works so that we can understand the technique at the most basic level and practice it for the first time. Follow along with the What is Vibrato? Worksheet.
The Fundamentals of Vibrato – In part 2 of our series, we continue to explore the fundamentals of vibrato as we learn a new vibrato exercise.
Vibrato Practice – In our fourth and final part of the Vibrato Series, we review the fundamentals of vibrato and introduce a new vibrato exercise. Follow along with the following vibrato practice worksheets: Violin and Viola.
These “play along” videos are designed to be used in a live or virtual classroom or to be added to a student’s daily practice routine. If you have a mixed level orchestra class where some students are playing 2 octave scales and some students are playing 1 octave scales, use the optional 1 Octave Alternate Parts so the whole class can play together seamlessly!
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
Rhythm sight reading series – These exercises introduce a great method for practicing rhythm combinations and subdividing. Start with Rhythm Sight Reading 101 to practice the basics of subdividing rhythms and move on to Rhythm Sight Reading Practice when you feel confident and ready for a challenge!
Bowing Sight Reading 101 – Use this exercise to give your orchestra a new level of bowing coordination and confidence! Air bowing is always the best way to start these exercises.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.