Duets in a music classroom must not be left out.
These days, more and more students are opting for solo lessons for their music lessons. The concepts of ‘value for money’ and ‘optimization of time’ come to mind.
But is it really that?
If you set out to make music your career or play it, even unprofessionally, it would almost always result in a partnership! Music is a social activity, a language, a means of expression and communication. While playing alone is crucial to your learning as a musician, only playing it alone makes no sense whatsoever!
We, as music teachers, must find ways to incorporate this in our lesson plans. A simple task in a group classroom but how do you do this when it’s just you an the student?
Here are the top 5 ways to promote duet playing in a solo classroom!
A lot of the times students run towards the beats instead of walk alongside them. It is important to make them understand and feel the pulse, almost like a heartbeat. The mantra you need to keep in mind is “if you can play without the metronome, then you should be able to play with it!”
The most important thing though the tick of the metronome needs to run in the back of their head, not be the center of their attention. The latter can make the playing rather mechanical.
You can simply have your students download a metronome app. One of my all time favorite apps is Metronome Beats. It is straightforward and super easy to work with.
Needless to say, begin with playing together with the student. Just have both of you playing the exact same thing. You could try playing an octave apart for variety. If you share the instrument with the student, you can tap the rhythm of the music as the student plays the music on the instrument.
Playing together is not only a fun way for the students to enjoy duet playing as well as a simple way to understand where they need improvement!
This is a great way to go! Find some teacher student duets and get the ball rolling. As a piano teacher, I often use the below books with my students. They are easy, fun and effective.
Improvise a Duet Part
Of course it isn’t always possible to find duet books. A violin teacher would be most comfortable playing a duet with two violins and such resources are not always readily available! You also cannot always plan your classes around such duets.
Improvisation is a good skill to have in your pocket. You absolutely don’t need to be a pro at it. Something simple would also work. Just play a little melody line that goes in harmony with what the students are playing.
It’s so simple and so much fun!
If this is too difficult, there is a simple hack. Just play the tonic note of the harmony alongside the student!
Chord based Accompaniment
If you are teaching the guitar or a keyboard instrument, one of the best ways to accompany your students is to just recognize the chord progression used in the music. Once you have that, you can try different rhythms and variations to accompany. Here’s an example.