Giving Bach with Your Group

Side-by-Side Instruction

In this part of a “Giving Bach” concert, student musicians are paired up with audience members and teach them about their instrument.  This activity will surely be the most memorable part of the concert for your own students.  It will instill empathy and confidence into each of them as they see, firsthand, how their music can affect others.

By the end of this activity, all of your audience members will have met one (or more) of your students and learned how to hold, pluck and bow a string instrument!  Encourage everyone in your audience to participate—students, teachers, parents, aids, and principals.

As your students meet and start helping the audience members you will feel a positive energy throughout the room unlike anything else you’ve experienced!

Training Your Students

The “D String Blues”

Use this piece to give your audience the opportunity to perform a “real piece” with your orchestra.  You can download the score and parts on this website.  Download the D String Blues, print, and photocopy as many parts as you need!

Audience members will ultimately be playing the “Open D” part by rote while selected members of your orchestra play the other parts (the “ensemble part”).  Make sure your students are able to perform both their ensemble part and the “Open D” part.  Practice the piece in several different combinations.

Setting Up the Audience and Performers

There are three possible “Side-by-Side” scenarios.  Follow the instructions after each scenario below to help you set up for the activity.

In this case, the “Side-by-Side” activity will need to be done more than once to give all audience members a chance to participate.

As in scenario 2, the activity should be done more than once to make sure all performers get a chance to teach an audience member.  Creativity on the director’s part is necessary to accommodate everyone!  One possibility would be teaching all audience members the violin first.  Then teach all audience members a combination of viola, cello, and bass that best fit your group.  Performers not teaching can play the ensemble part.

Note: Performers leaving their seats and going into the audience should take their instrument, rosin, and a Play-Along Certificate.

Teaching the Instruments

When your students meet their partner from the audience, chances are they will dive right in, introduce themselves and start teaching.   Stay at your spot in front of the orchestra and guide the activities by calling out what should be done next.  Remember, in this set-up you will be surrounded by students– in front of you, behind you, and to the sides!

Preface all instruction with a reminder to everyone of how fragile the instruments are and how gently they must be handled.  The “teachers” (your students) should always follow three steps when introducing a new concept to their partner:

Below is the suggested order of events (remember to give sufficient time before announcing next event):

Play-Along Certificates

After this “performance” portion of the Side-by-Side activity, have your students present the Play-Along Certificate to their partner with a high-five or handshake and a heartfelt “Congratulations!

Sample Certificate

Closing Piece

Remain in this set-up for your closing selection.  If some of your performers end up away from their music stand, have them memorize this piece, OR have their audience member hold the music for them.  Fun!  For best results, this closing piece should last no more than 1:30 (things get a little awkward if it goes too long). Consider making cuts in the music if necessary.