The New “String Things” Method – Level 2 “Differentiation & Motivation”

This week, I’d like to announce that the Level 2 of String Things is complete and published. There are boxes and boxes of the violin, viola, cello and double bass books at the Catholic Education Office in Parramatta. Many parents and students in our schools have been asking for these new books.

 The String Things method is exclusive to Catholic Schools in the Diocese of Parramatta and underpins the highly motivational teaching and learning we are seeing across 10 of our Catholic primary Schools. Quite a few of the exciting performances we saw at the Captivate Strings Showcase were from the new Level 2 Ensemble arrangements.

A few things set this method apart from similar methods found in music stores:

  • This level 2 book follows on from the very successful level one books already in use in our schools. The level one books underpin our highly successful classroom strings program as the violin, viola, cello and double bass books work together so the whole class sounds like an orchestra very quickly.
  • Differentiation – essentially this term means that we provide for different levels of experience/ability within the class and create meaningful learning experiences for ALL students. It might occur that we have a student that has previously learned violin for a few years with a private teacher, so we need to extend that student; a simple open strings part would soon become boring for them. We also need to be aware that students that have never played an instrument and don’t even read music might believe that they can’t play an instrument. The simple open string parts with the backing tracks give these students a “can do” attitude.
  • The high quality media – in level 2, as well as high quality backing tracks with FULL orchestra recordings (click here to see how I arranged and produced the full orchestral recording of Jesu Joy Of Man’s Desiring) there are also instructional videos for each instrument. Click here to see the tutorial video: Violin Hooked Bow Dotted Quavers. The videos are on a DVD with each book as well as online.
  • As in level 1, these books work across a number of learning areas with the Teachers Handbook which contains a full suggested Scope & Sequence, (This is on a CD ROM as a word document so can be adapted for you own teaching program) Conductors Scores and Piano Accompaniments. The students books and media can be used with the Teachers Handbook as a full classroom music program for stage 4 or even stage 5 or to supplement an existing classroom program. Students having group lessons with specialist string teachers are connecting with and learning the same repertoire as in class music lessons and also repertoire for school ensembles and orchestras. Students can also extend and reinforce practice at home with use of the high quality backing tracks and instructional videos – not to replace good teaching but to reinforce concepts and skills learned in the lesson. Lastly, the student books along with the conductors scores in the Teachers Handbook, forms a complete ensemble/orchestra package with clever use of melody and ensemble parts.
  • Each song or piece is preceded by relevant technical work and exercises to teach the student necessary skills and knowledge.
  • Repertoire includes Classical, Baroque, Music of other cultures, with Celtic, African and Russian folk tunes and even Music for Film & TV. Click here to see a performance by the Captivate String Orchestra in 2011 at the Captivate Strings Showcase of the St Anthony Chorale (when this video was shot about a year ago, many of these children had only been learning in the class for about 12 months and there are only a couple of children with prior learning)

This term promises to be a very exciting one with the introduction of the new Level 2 String Things Program. If you are a parent of the String Things Classroom program in Catholic Schools – Western Sydney, ask your school music teacher or school office about ordering your copy from the CEO.

The String Things Level 1 will continue to be the main resource for both the classroom music program across 10 of our primary schools and also for our beginner level students.

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About captivatestrings

Phil Rooke is a Teacher Educator, specializing in Music Education for the Catholic Education Office - Diocese of Parramatta, authoring & implementing teaching programs and leading music learning across a system of 78 schools in Western Sydney. "I am on a learning journey to find and invent better ways to motivate students and teachers in music making."
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