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Orchestra Expressions™ takes students' musical knowledge to new heights by bringing the immediacy and dynamics of the real world into the music classroom. Previously learned material is reinforced and given added depth, dimension, and meaning when it is viewed in the context of history, art and culture, and students' own everyday experiences.

All lessons include coordinated listening activities, reproducible worksheets, and overhead transparencies (included in the Teacher Curriculum Package). The Teacher Resource Guide for each level provides articles on classroom management, string pedagogy, assessment, and much more. This is provided with the Teacher Curriculum Package.


Book One
Unique Elements

  • Innovative string pedagogy combined with Comprehensive Musicianship
  • Experience before labeling
  • Warm-up exercises start every lesson, establishing good posture, and left and right hand positions
  • "Four-fingers-down" start for every instrument
  • Simultaneous, independent development of both hands (fingering and bowing)
  • Enlarged staves and notes for the first 17 pages of the student book
  • Bass begins in III position
  • Early shifting for cello and string bass
  • Nine pop and rock songs everyone will recognize that will motivate students to practice
  • Introduction and reinforcement of 4/4, 3/4, and 2/4 meters
  • Quarter, half, and whole notes and rests; dotted half note
  • Keys of D, G, and C
  • Pizzicato, arco, staccato, slurred staccato (hooked bowing), legato, bow speed, bow divisions, and double stop bowing and articulations
  • Memorization emphasized
  • Numerous opportunities for improvisation, including playing and movement
  • Reproducible worksheets for teaching composition, arranging, theory, and more
  • Overhead transparencies to enhancing the learning experience
  • Student conducting encouraged
  • Reproducible worksheets for composing, arranging, theory, critical listening, music games, and assessment
  • Materials for studying the Baroque, Classical, Romantic, and Modern/Contemporary periods
  • Composer Portraits, pictures and biographies, of Georges Bizet, Johann Sebastian Bach, Johann Strauss, Aaron Copland, Igor Stravinsky, Antonio Vivaldi, and Johannes Brahms
  • Time lines, listening maps, listening activities, and arrangements of eight Masterworks ("Les Toreadors," "Ode to Joy," "Hoedown," "Brandenburg Concerto," "On the Beautiful Blue Danube," "Spring" from The Four Seasons, and "Academic Festival Overture")
  • Seven pieces of fine art to teach concepts and about different cultures
  • A wide variety of music, including Hispanic, Oriental, and African-American cultures
  • Four orchestra arrangements by Sandra Dackow
  • Final full orchestra concert piece arranged by Sandra Dackow (Handel's "Music for the Royal Fireworks," playable by strings alone or with winds and percussion)
  • Preparation for Other Musical Ensembles and Experiences

Book Two
Unique Elements

  • Warm-ups for intermediate and advanced students
  • Vibrato development
  • Dynamics/tone variables
  • Systematic introduction and constant reinforcement of sight-reading skills
  • Carefully sequenced ear-training exercises, including rhythmic and melodic dictation
  • Keys of D, A, C, F, B-flat, G minor, D minor, A minor
  • Dotted quarter-eighth, four sixteenth, eighth-2 sixteenth, 2 sixteenth-eighth, dotted eighth-sixteenth, eighth note triplet, quarter-eighth triplet, and eighth-quarter-eighth rhythms
  • Introduction and reinforcement of 6/8 and cut time
  • Early introduction of orchestral bowings, including spiccato
  • Extended shifting for cello and string bass
  • In-depth studies in tuning and intonation
  • Reproducible worksheets for teaching composition, arranging, theory, and improvisation
  • Overhead transparencies to enhancing the learning experience
  • A variety of music, including Hispanic, Oriental, and African-American cultures
  • Eleven pieces of fine art for teaching musical concepts and about various cultures
  • Composer Portraits, pictures and biographies, of Gustav Holst, Antonín Dvorák, Johann Pachelbel, Pyotr Il'yich Tchaikovsky, George Frederic Handel, Gioachino Rossini, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Alberto Ginastera, and John Williams
  • Time lines, listening maps, listening activities, and arrangements of eight Masterworks ("Jupiter" from The Planets, "Largo" from Symphony No. 9 'From the New World', "Canon," "Hornpipe" from Water Music, "Overture" from William Tell, "Danza Final" from Estancia, and "Main Title" from Star Wars)
  • Five pop and rock songs to motivate students to practice and perform
  • Seven orchestra arrangements by Sandra Dackow
  • Final full orchestra concert piece arranged by Michael Story ("Main Title" from Star Wars, playable by strings alone or with winds and percussion)
Play Music and Video Samples

(A player is required to listen to audio or watch videos.  If you don't have a player,
download either Windows Media Player or RealOne Player.)

Les Toreadors (Listening activity)

Rockin' on D

Rockin' on A

Two String Salsa

Les Toreadors (Student Line w/accompaniment)


Orchestra Expressions Overview Video by Robert W. Smith
  • Windows Media - 56k
  • Windows Media - Broadband
  • Real Video

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