All of us need to be creative and flexible this school year!
If you need ideas for teaching online orchestra, here are some of the things that have worked for me.
This article provides tips you can easily apply but lots of additional links and resources for online orchestra teaching you can use.
Ideas for Teaching Beginning Orchestra Online
Teaching beginning orchestra online can be tricky especially getting into the later portion of the semester.
In addition to this article, please find a detailed post with beginning orchestra online ideas here.
Technology can play tricks on you!
You may think that I will be talking about technology resources, but actually I try to incorporate as much face to face with my beginners. I feel it works better.
I have also found it more difficult to get younger students to interact when they are faces with a screen only. And if you end up with technology problems things get tricky.
So here is what I do which has been helpful:
Use your instrument:
In my classroom I do a lot of call and response using my own instrument. I schedule that for the first 10 minutes of class. This way no matter what happens with technology, the students can have a face to face time with me and have some ear training and music theory component.
I am writing a very detailed post about it and I will link it up here in a day or two! Stay tuned for it!
It is very engaging for younger students to have other people come to your classroom. I feel that using technology only is not enough and not the same as seeing live person to motivate and engage students. Especially if you beginners do not have instruments yet.
- I try to utilize as many of my friends as possible. I ask them to come to my classroom and just play/talk tot he kids for about 10 minutes.
- I also ask my high school students to come and play for the beginners if their schedule allows it.
- If you work in a more isolated community, reach out! Email me and if time allows I would be happy to come to your classroom.
- Want to use this blog as a community to reach out to other educators and see if they may be willing to trade/visit each others classrooms? Send me an email and put a comment at the bottom of the post! Let’s make this happen!
- See if you can find people from different art disciplines to come and talk to your students. For example dance guest can be linked with some pieces. Finding a local composer can make a great unit. Here is a fantastic podcast video with a music teacher who is talking about using resources like that!
- We all need to collaborate and find different ideas. Don’t be shy to reach out or share what has worked for you!
Now let’s explore some ideas when teaching music history or theory concepts. You can use the same ideas but make it less/more difficult depending on the level you teach.
Start With Question of the Day
This is a very effective approach for getting into history of music concepts. It engages students much better thinking conceptually before showing a musical video or classical music piece.
As the student log into your classroom, have a question ready for them as a slide or in the chat. Engage them in discussion on that topic. Then come back to the same question after class and ask them again what they’ve learned.
This is a good “bell ringer” and a great activity to get students talking at the beginning of class in order to engage more.
Here is a quick example:
For my high school students, I try to incorporate current events as much as possible. I choose a learning video and put a question to engage them before the video starts. This way it is a not a “boring” showing of the next video but the class has a direction.
We will be learning about African-American composers. As we started class the question of the day was:
Does Music Recognize Differences?
Last, the students were separated into teams of 2-3. All teams would need to research one African-American composer and present to the class in two weeks.
For young students:
- For younger students, you can use that idea by starting with something very silly that doesn’t even have to do with music. What is the best breakfast? What does Mozart and Rock and Roll have in common? All questions that will get them going.
- Assign student leaders to start the conversation.
- I have found that this idea works much better for older students. If you use it for younger ones, especially if you have classes early in the morning or at the end of the day, you need to make it silly to get them engaged.
- I am having a harder time getting my mid school students to engage in class in front of the screen. But depending on your group of kids this could be a fun idea.
Create a Weekly Unit Around It:
You can use this idea to create weekly music history units that would be engaging for the students.
Have a question of the week. Have students discuss it. They can use the chat in your google classroom to post their questions and wanderings.
The throughout that week you learn about the topic the question presented. You can choose a style of music, specific composer, tie current events to music, whatever you feel is best for your classroom community.
The broader the question, the better it would wok. Some examples for different levels could be.
Reversing the role of student and teacher is a great idea during online learning.
Start with a question and a theme for this unit.
Then have different students research parts of the topic and present it to class.
One example, we just did a Beethoven unit. I did the introduction to the life and work of the composer. Then I assigned kids to research and give a presentation on each of Beethoven’s nine symphonies.
This can take care of grading! Simply have the in-class presentation be a bigger portion of their grade!
This will SAVE YOU TIME and will make students be responsible for researching different concepts.
More Ideas About Teaching Orchestra Online
There is so much we can learn by collaborating with each other!
And there is no better time to do it!
I have started a new YouTube channel with lots of distance learning ideas for the orchestra classroom. I will be interviewing different educator each week offering more ideas about teaching orchestra online.
If you want to see more ideas about teaching orchestra online, you will find plenty!
What is even more important, by watching other educators talk about their experience, we learn that we are not alone and what we do in our classroom is valuable!
Please take the time to check it out! I am very excited about it and I hope that the information will be helpful to you. Her is the link.
I will be interviewing different educators every week and have them share their knowledge and what they do in their classroom at that time. New content is uploaded every Wednesday.
See the channel here.
Please give us a hand at the beginning by subscribing as well as posting the videos on Facebook and other social media so more people can find it!
Be Gentle On Yourself!
If there is one thing I have learned as a teacher this semester, it is that I need to stay flexible and release any control over my classroom!
It has been a learning experience for sure!
My best advice is to stay calm, do your best. Know that some days will be better than others. Collaborate with colleagues and get support from other teachers as much as possible!
Use this blog as an online teaching community as well! This is why we do it!