Whenever possible, have students working in pairs and trios as they learn best from each other. Ensure that there is a focused task for what they are doing. If they are learning a new melody, e.g., Ode To Joy which is found in every book, have them alternate measures – this encourages them to read rather than memorize.
All of the method books provide opportunities for students to play melodies and chords at a very early point. Obviously one person can play melodies and the other chords, but ensure they both do each part so they are developing all of the skills. Have them play the piece twice without stopping and switch parts in the process.
Give them a set focused time and an opportunity to demonstrate their progress. For example, “You and your partner have 4 minutes to learn the first line of the melody. You must alternate measures. Re-group, ask for a couple of partners to demo what they have accomplished. “You now have 8 minutes to learn the piece with one of you playing chords and the other melody.” Students come back together and share what they have accomplished in a non-threatening (i.e., no marks) situation. If some duos are not quite ready, have the whole class play is a duet. Listen to all the “chord people” first, then all the “melody” people. Put it together…repeat and switch parts.
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