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Cello group classes: how beneficial?

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My 11 year old daughter has had private cello lessons (with no group classes) for the past 2 school years, but I've always had in mind that we would move her to the strings academy with private lessons + group classes at some point.  The academy has a great reputation and is run by two music professors at our local university.  The problem is that she is our first child to study an orchestra instrument, and we don't know much about the process.  


How important or beneficial are the group classes?  


Her current teacher put together a cello choir day with 6 students and hopes to put on 4 of these days each year.  (10:00 to 2:00, wth a short concert at 2:00 for parents.)  How would these 4 cello choir days each year compare to having the group classes each week?  


Both her current teacher and the strings academy use the Suzuki method, and my daughter is in the middle of book 2.  We are leaning toward moving her now, but I'd love to hear some thoughts on the benefits or importance of group classes -- and any other cello advice is welcome too!

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My DS11's former cello teacher does an optional weekly string ensemble for all the strings players in her music school. The parents with kids in the ensemble said their kids like the social aspect of playing together as cello playing can be quite solitary. So the ensemble was the incentive for their kids to practice. My DS11 is not interested in ensemble so he did not participate.


My DS10 plays flute and likes ensemble. He is my social kid. He is not at the level yet to be in a woodwind emsemble but he did enjoyed his flute group lessons. Now his flute lessons are one to one so that he can learn faster in a shorter lesson time. So for him, one to one with a weekly ensemble would be a good combo.


Do you add sight reading to her suzuki lessons?

My DS11 went from about 8 months of suzuki cello to the ABRSM method. He has little problem as I taught him rudimentary music theory and sight reading on my piano but many kids from suzuki method couldn't sight read.

A friend's children who did two years of suzuki violin and suzuki piano are doing badly at sight reading when switching to non-suzuki teachers.


We have not tried the masterclass style which would be similar to your cello choir day. It would work for my DS11 but he has a hyper long attention span. He can seat for hours and pay attention. My DS10 would flop after an hour, so it would be torture for him.

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My dc all play string instruments (violin and classical guitar), and have gone through Suzuki private and group classes as well as ensembles. The group classes and ensembles are very, very beneficial and I'd recommend jumping into them now, especially if this is the beginning of the year.


I've seen a few variations of how group classes/ensembles run in our Suzuki academy:


1. All the students play the Suzuki book songs in unison. The classes are grouped by book level, so the students know roughly the same songs. Songs are most often played by memory, but some students (usually older ones) are allowed to use music if needed. No sight reading is necessary.


2. Students play Suzuki and/or non-Suzuki book songs dividing the group into different parts where they play slightly different arrangements of the songs. Here the children learn to play not simply the melody, but harmonies that fit together with the other parts to make the full sound together. They also learn how to count measures carefully, as they may have a rest while the other part plays. Usually reading music is encouraged, at least at the start. Then the pieces may be memorized or not, depending on the situation and group.


3. Students play non-Suzuki book songs with 2 or more parts. Reading music is encouraged, at least at the start. Then the pieces may be memorized or not, depending on the situation and group.


Some string ensembles also combine violins, viola, cellos and double bass together.

Edited by wintermom
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