Whether a student has a formal IEP or 504 or not: there is not just one cookie cutter student. And as teachers we have varied ideas of how lead specific teaching points; just as our students will respond differently to various teaching strategies.

Here are some ideas of reaching students with mixed visual, auditory, logical/analytical, and kinesthetic strengths…


Visual

  • Pictures

Performers – Referencing Posture/Embouchure

Games – Aiming air at a specific target (great for younger students)

  • Diagrams

Inside of mouth or torso to help visualize tongue placement, lung expansion, and posture/support.

  • Videos

Encouraging the student to record themselves to be able to assess and compare what they are doing.

Videos of performers for students to visualize an end goal.

  • Mirror

Same as video recording themselves; the mirror is great for more nuanced assessment such as the apperture/ambouchure.

  • Using the space

Combined with kinesthetic: having pictures or even tangible spots in the room to aim the air (high v. low) is great for both visual and kinesthetic learners.

  • Colors

For early music readers, associating a note with a color can be a great way to reinforce and develop music literacy.

Combined with logical/analytical: colors can be a good tool for comparing similar and different – such as loud and soft.

  • Size:

Similar to colors, using size to contrast and comparing more nuanced musical ideas.

Also for learners that are part of the blind community, having the contrast and enlarged print makes music reading more accessible.

  • Shapes

Useful for both younger and older students; the shapes can be used to reinforce dynamics (such as hairpins). The shape and body of notes (ie. quiet entrance, loud sustain and release OR loud attack with a quick decay)/

Auditory

  • Modeling and Imitation

Review and repetition is great for all students; and the I Do then You Do concept is ideal for auditory learners because they will mimic what the hear.

  • Singing

Being able to connect their voice to their playing will allow the student to internalize the music and begin to audiate (or hear before they play).

This can also be paired with modeling or call and response on both the voice and the instrument to help the student bridge the connection between their voice and their instrument playing.

  • Recordings – Playlists

Having a reference recordings of professional flute players will help students internalize the music they are learning. The Suzuki method especially is based on this reinforcement of listening to tracks and playing from memory.

  • Memorization

Playing for memory can be a difficult thing to do if you already are ingrained in visual intaking music. However, every musician can benefit from taking a bite size piece of music and memorizing it (using the Listen and Response technique as well as having Recordings to listen to). Memorizing music takes away visual input and allows the player to focus on two things (1) the sound and (2) their body. Therefore, auditory and kinesthetic learners will have the most luck with memorizing, but for the rest of us it worthwhile to pursue.

  • Recordings – Listen back and assess

You don’t need to stop at just listening to professional recordings; encouraging the student to record themselves and listen back.

  • Duets/Chamber music

Chamber music (more so playing with other people) are engaging for auditory learners because they get to rely on their ears to match and respond to other musicians. Including duets in lessons are a fantastic way to engage students and have fun making music.

Logical/Analytical

  • Patterns

Both auditory and visual learners can engage in identifying patterns (whether that be by listening or looking at the music); giving the student a specific goal to listen for “the same” or “different” will help reinforce that there is structure in music.

  • Comparing (Same v. Similar)

In that same vein, comparing things that start the same and end differently is more nuanced. By using leading questions – where you are guiding students to a specific answer – the student is able to differentiate things that are slightly varied.

  • Connections

Review and repetition; students will have experience with scales and arpeggios. Referencing a single note (the tonic) and asking the student to make a game out of it:

  1. Finding all the (ie. A) notes in a piece OR
  2. Omitting one specific note from a piece to hear what that might sound like
  • Student-Led Discussion – Observation

Logical and analytic students tend to be adept at finding these patterns in music; therefore, giving them a safe space to led a discussion “what do you notice” or “what do you think” to gauge how they are internalizing the piece.

Kinesthetic

  • Movement for rhythm/time

Having designated time in the lesson for students to use their body is important for kinesthetic learners. Particularly for rhythm and timing based activities such as using scarves or balls to keep time and internalize the pulse.

  • Different spaces in room

Combined with logical and analytical, having the student move to a different spot in the room when they hear a different section (ie. same and different) or when they are playing different sections.

  • Move around chair (each repetition)

The chair circle – good for repetition – each time a student plays a different repetition correctly they can move to the next face of the chair. Repeat until they have come full circle.

  • Clapping – Body Percussion

Making use of the body to respond and create music through clapping the steady beat, syncopations. even combining auditory learning by singing and clapping at the same time.

  • Connect body to register

Singers often use hand sings or even high/low hand gestures to indicate pitch – this is great for kinesthetic learners. And either using the head to toes; or physical moving the arms up to the sky and ground helps reinforce music as having shape and contour.


These were just a few ideas to differentiate teaching points,

share your own ideas in the comments below!

This semester my university’s flute choir is splitting into separate quartets: one of which is the Quartet for Diverse Flutes. Which, as the name suggests, calls for alto (flute III) and bass flute (flute IV) in addition to the C flute.

On tricky/deceiving thing about this score is that flute IV is actually the 3rd staff and flute III is the 4th staff. Throughout the piece this is something to be conscious of especially because the alto flute (flute III) is the only transposing flute. Whereas bass flute the pitch drops an octave, but remains the same letter – alto flute sounds a Perfect 4th lower than written. Therefore, the initial G4 sounds as a D4.

One last thing: because of the strange times of remote learning, our quartet is working asynchronously which can be tricky with the fermatas – to work around this (to have a steady opening) I’ve notated some modifications our group has been given by our coach to better suit the remote classroom. The initial 4/4 becomes a 6/4 and stays through the 1st measure of 5/4; finally, on the second stave the 2/4 is prolonged to a 3/4.


Composer and Piece Background

Peter Bacchus (1985-2016) was an American flutist and composer born in New Jersey. His journey on flute started with inspiration from listening to Herbie Mann, a jazz flutist, play in a live concert. He worked in New York – studying and earning his BFA from SUNY Purchase and Masters from City University of New York. The Barcelona Metropolitan did an interview with him in 2009 that goes more in-depth on his life as a composer and his development.

Quartet for Diverse Flutes was composed in 1990 and is divided into 3 movements (1. Andante molto rubato con espressione, 2. Allegro Molto, and 3. Cadenza). I couldn’t find a list of composed works or much in general about Peter Bacchus while he was alive – most of the search results yielded in memoriam and tributes to his work.


1. Andate molto rubato con espressione

One of the most helping and responsible parts of participating in chamber music is being aware of the other parts. What role does your line play? Who are you playing with/Are you playing alone? Are there sections that dove-tail/connect parts?

Especially in this opening (very slow and tolling) it is paramount to be aware of who enters when. First, the alto flute has a measure alone on a low D4 (written G4). Then, flute II comes in to start the next measure – it is important that flute II takes the low D set by the alto flute (slightly louder since the dynamic is set mp), but intonation is foremost. The bass flute follows with an A4 – tuning this Perfect 5th so that it doesn’t not tend too low (towards a tritone) or high is very important especially because this is the first note that is not a D. Finally, flute I enters on beat 3 an octave above flute II on D5 (again, listening down to flute II is very important). And so the process continues – flute I starts to take the leading role in the opening section and flute II, III, and IV are varied in their entrances so being aware of who enters on which beat (and on what pitch) can help alleviate any potential ensemble issues.

In this movement, there are many parts where the flutes are in their own mini choirs. In the example above, flute I and II are their own choir and flute IV and III are a separate choir.

In m. 35-38 flute I and II are in rhythmic unison. They start of a Perfect 5th apart, and then split in m. 36 to contrasting movement (ascending and descending) 4ths that shift to 5th halfway through m. 37 (returning to 4ths in m. 38).

In m. 34-36 flute IV and III are setting up that contrasting movement that the flute I and II are about to do. Flute IV and III are playing contrasting 5ths (rather than 4ths) that always end by a 1/2 step movement (still in contrasting direction). In m. 37-38, the flutes expand the contrasting 5ths excerpt by making a shift to 4ths (when flute I and II change to 5ths).

Both choirs end with the contrasting 4ths in m. 38.

Here is another example to reinforce the separation of the choir into smaller choirs (still flute I and II; and flute IV and III).


What’s your favorite flute quartet? Have you played this quartet before? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!