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URGENT HELP NEEDED! Have to implement a "class orchestra" into the curriculum!! Starting in 1 week!

Discussion in 'Music' started by ZLBRIDEL13, Aug 20, 2015.

  1. I have just been asked to create a new curriculum for Primary Music students so every class will become an orchestra. At the end of every trimester, students will then all join together to create a Primary School Orchestra. Every class has approx. 15 students; 12 different classes in total (3 classes in each year group)

    Here are the details I've been given to work with:

    * Every class has to have a mixture of different instruments (violins, flutes, trumpets, clarinets, etc.)

    * NONE of the current students play any orchestral instruments, so will be absolute beginners!

    * Parents will have to buy students their own instruments

    * Parents will have to commit students to at least one year of private instrumental lessons to supplement the work in class.


    Although instrumental lessons are available at my school, there are only 2 x 30mins slots available every day to Primary Students (as they can only have a lesson during lunch break) and we currently have NO students learning orchestral instruments.


    My issues with this are that it will not work. Lessons are 45mins, once a week. I do not see how it is possible to teach absolute beginners how to play an instrument in a whole class where there is a combination of different instruments. For example, if I had to work on bowing techniques with the 4 violinists, what would the other 11 beginner trumpet, flute, percussion students be doing in that time? What happens if it takes 20mins of the lesson to resolve the bowing issues?

    I have propsed that every class takes on a different instruments; for example,

    4A - violin; 4B - flute; 4C - trumpet

    However, this was responded with a definite NO.

    The students start back in 1 week and I am close to a nervous breakdown over this news!

    Any advice of how this could possibly work, or other solutions, would be GREATLY appreciated!!!

    Thank you!
  2. midnightoil

    midnightoil New commenter

    >I have just been asked to create a new curriculum for Primary Music

    Were you asked or were you told?

    >However, this was responded with a definite NO.

    Sounds like the latter (told) to me.

    This is simply not possible IMHO but I assume you are not in the UK and so your school has different expectations.

    You have identified the problems exactly and I presume this task was given to you by a non-musician. I cannot write here what I really think about that person!!

    Have the parents been told they will need to buy instruments? What parent would do so knowing that the tuition was on the basis you outline?

    I feel for you but cannot offer a solution.
  3. florian gassmann

    florian gassmann Star commenter

    Who is telling you this nonsense, ZLBridel?
  4. midnightoil

    midnightoil New commenter

    You have PM
  5. bod99

    bod99 New commenter

    hiya ZLBridel (we meet again).

    Don't panic.

    1) presumably if they're all having individual lessons then those teachers are in charge of general technique and learning basic notes.

    2) You wouldn't launch into the instruments straight away. You'd need at least 3 weeks of rhythm work etc before they'd know a note or two on their instrument.

    3) start with simple rhythm exercises using notes from chords. Talk to the instrumental staff about which order they teach the notes and work out from there. Get them to update you regularly on individual progress. It won't take long before some of them can play quite well.

    4) you can make a pretty nice sounding ensemble piece with only a couple of notes per instrument - see Sarah Watts' Really Easy Band Book. I had a band of year 1s and 2s who did exactly that and no-one actually noticed they didn't play lots of different notes.

    5) Improvising. Pick a pentatonic scale, write a simple tune that each instrument can play by xmas, add some improvising sectiions, make some ostinato accompaniment parts. Bam. A world premiere.

    Best wishes from me (and him)
  6. midnightoil

    midnightoil New commenter

    I don't think you have quite read the problem correctly bod99.

    ZLBridel said, 'Although instrumental lessons are available at my school, there are only 2 x 30mins slots available every day to Primary Students (as they can only have a lesson during lunch break) and we currently have NO students learning orchestral instruments.'

    Sounded like the situation from hell to me. Hope you are right though.
  7. bod99

    bod99 New commenter

    Ahhh but it was part of the original details given TO her that parents would have to pay for instrumental lessons for their child. If the school provides no opportunity for this to happen, then the whole thing is void and she doesn't have to do it. That would be my point.
  8. muso2

    muso2 Established commenter Community helper

    Totally unrealistic (esp forcing parents to pay for lessons and buy instruments with no lesson time!).

    Suggest you start forming class ensembles with whatever instruments you've got, focusing on general ensemble skills, and wait for them all to come to you with skills on their own instruments before you form an 'orchestra'.

    Sounds like a badly-thought out publicity stunt by someone who really doesn't understand (do you even know how to teach all orchestral instruments? I don't, and I think you'd struggle to find a music teacher who really could!).

    You can provide the essence of what they're asking, and opportunities for all to make music together. Any questions about the rest of it and you can point them back to their own conditions - you will incorporate any orchestral instruments into the ensemble when kids bring them and show you they know how to play them.

    Good luck!
  9. midnightoil

    midnightoil New commenter

    > Have to implement a "class orchestra" into the curriculum!! Starting in 1 week!

    It is a week since this was posted. I hope the OP found a solution. Maybe we will find out soon.
  10. Hi -this situation isn't ideal. It's very much a 'wider opps' -whole class teaching approach. I used to work in Coventry and they have a class band they teach with year 7's. Pupils are taught as a band. they use the Essential elements 200 book-all the different instruments fit together. Classroom percussion were also added when I watched this. I saw the after a term and they play pieces together.... personally the brass/woodwind worked well. But sax's were too loud and flutes were used for more able as they are tricky notes.....search the net Class band coventry PAS and staffordshire
  11. Correct... TOLD is the truth.

    Fortunately, I have been able to speak to my head of Primary and head of Middle School (who IS a musician) and both agree that it is not feasible. It was SO important for me to get to speak to them before approaching the person in question. Parents, luckily, have not been informed (yet) that this will be the case...

    Also correct - said person is not a musician.
  12. Thank you EVERYONE for your comments, which at least have made me think I am not going mad thinking this is unfeasible. Fortunately, I have the support of my direct line managers who agree that it is not practical as we do not have the resources to provide this.

    However, yet to meet with the big boss (where I am supposed to provide my implementation program) to show that this is not going to work in reality.

    But, we shall see.... I will keep you posted!! (fingers crossed it will be abandoned!!!)
  13. midnightoil

    midnightoil New commenter

    Glad to hear you are getting some support. [​IMG]
  14. notable

    notable New commenter

    Glad to hear you got it sorted.
  15. Thank you! Although STILL waiting for the meeting that will make the final decision... Relieved not to have been thrown into the lion's den...(yet!)

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