No matter how crazy things are, this is an important time for us music teachers to get feedback from our studio families on what worked well and what areas could be improved upon next year. It will help when it comes time to plan for the upcoming year.
Last weekend, some of my studio families, friends and I took a beginner taiko drumming workshop. It might sound like an unusual activity for a piano studio, but music is music, regardless of instrument. Besides, nothing challenges your sense of rhythm and coordination like playing percussion in a group.
This year, I made two big changes to Maestro's Challenges. The first is that I separated the Musician Survival Skills Challenges and the Music Moxie Challenges. The biggest change, however, is how my students and I are approaching technique. It's been a bit of a gamble, especially with the ones preparing for an exam, but it's paying off.
Last week, I ran group classes with my students to explore rhythm and timing through music and movement. It required a bit more planning than usual (and a lot of energy), but based on student feedback, it was well worth it to run these music and movement classes.
This week, one of my beginners, a sweet introspective lad, was struggling with the timing on “Starry, Starry Night” from the Faber & Faber Piano Adventures series. His family is doing some travelling this summer and, he’s a bit of a history and geography buff, so we used country names to “count” the beats.
When introducing a new work to a student, I try to give him or her an idea of the form, era and genre using visual aids. It's a little easier to get music teaching ideas when the composition has a descriptive title.