Reflecting upon what worked and what didn't work so well during this week's music group classes at Musespeak and To the Wind Studios.
Although summer has just begun, my mind is already focusing on the upcoming teaching year. I've made a few changes to my studio, which are both exciting and scary. Some of the ideas are inspired by music teacher, author and savvy entrepreneur Kristin Yost.
- Moving to a year-round curriculum: My colleagues in the US have taught year-round for many years and have found that it really works. I know I'm not the only Canadian music teacher to hear, "I didn't practice at all this summer," from a student. It takes them months before they get back to where they were the previous June. Truly, what a waste.Summer-flex lessons make it easier for families to work around their summer activities but still provide the students with that needed consistency at their instrument.
- Teaming up with another studio to provide more: It pays to have another music teacher in the family. I shall be teaming up with my brother's studio, To the Wind, to offer our students a wider range in their music studies. He has sound engineering and multimedia design under his belt.
- More group classes and more varied ones: Group classes have been extremely popular at my studio. Up to this year, they've had between three and four a year. However, starting next year, they will get six. These are just some of the ideas To the Wind Studio and Musespeak Studio have up their sleeves: Introduction to Conducting, Video Games Live - mini version, So You Want to Play and Sing at the Same Time, improvisation, piano combos, composing, Design and Produce Your Own Radio Show, essential grooves, etc.
- Cafe Performance: Most of our students are studying piano for cultural enrichment and recreation. Many of them loath the traditional recital format. So, shy not make it more IRL (in real life) and head to a cafe? The students will prepare a set of music, script a little patter; and their family and friends cheer them on while enjoying a delicious latte and dessert. The cafe performance, combined with adding the Video Games Live and Radio show projects to the year-end recital promise to make for exciting performances.
- More Optional Activities: Depending on how our students respond, we will be offering a variety of optional activities to our students, as well as opening these up to our colleagues' studios. Some examples: tour of the Cantos Keyboard Museum, tour of a piano refurbisher's workshop, How to Make a Multi-Track Project, Live Interactive or workshop with some of our colleagues from other places in the world, like David Story in Ontario, Bren Wrona Norris in California and Liam Walsh in the UK. My involvement with Eric Whitacre's Virtual Choir has opened the door to unlimited partnership possibilities with my Virtual Choir friends and colleagues.
Some of these ideas are merely an expansion of things I've already been doing at the studio. However, this is taking things to a much higher level. That's what makes it so exciting. However, to make it work, a lot of planning is needed right now. On the plus side, this planning can take place outside where we can enjoy the sun.