How many streams per lesson?
Found in: Time Management
Cheri S., Utah
I’m sure there’s variety in this, and I’d like to hear lots of perspectives. We teach so many different programs, or streams. How many different streams do you present in each lesson? (Side note, do you call them “streams” with your students?)
I’m the sort of person who has a hard time setting anything aside. I’m great at follow-through. So it’s hard for me NOT to give an assignment of some kind in every stream.
I’ve only had one parent complain about “too much homework,” and her son is involved with two different sports nearly all the time. But it often happens that students forget to do whatever’s listed last in their notes–it seems like they’re ready to be done by the time they get there. I also wonder if feeling overwhelmed with practice tasks is a factor when students quit. I only lose a couple students a year, but when they do quit, the parents often say they’re looking for ways to simplify their lives.
Opinions? Is it too much to have an assignment in every category? How many streams do you teach every week?
Darla B., Kansas
I can really relate to where you’re coming from. I too have a very hard time setting things aside, but also felt that starting around level 4 I was just giving too many assignments for kids. It was overwhelming for them—and for me trying to cover so much territory in a short amount of time.
So a couple of years ago I started trying to pare down the number of projects assigned each week. One thing I did was to group all composing, improvising, blues improv, making arrangements, etc into one category I labeled “creative” for myself. [I didn’t label or talk about this with students, just the way I organized it in my own mind.] I decided to do one foundation assignment, one “creative” assignment, one reading project, and then either accompaniment or arrangement each lesson. [Often the accompaniment or arrangement is continued for the next week, but no new material added. So, they are usually working on both, but not something new.]
Once they get a little further down the track and are adding in their own pieces of music to read & learn, doing jazz, scale, etc, I have more projects going at once and students seem to be able to handle that once we’re there.
I still definitely have room to improve yet on time management, pacing, etc., but this approach has helped me a lot.
Mark M., New York
I call them streams or, sometimes, areas.
I try to fit in as many streams each lesson as seems possible, and where that number shakes out for each lesson each week depends entirely on the nature of the exact projects / sub projects we happens to have in the air at the moment — and how the students are doing with each around that time. Sometimes I’ll end up doing just two things, and that may not even include Foundation. Sometimes it could be up to 4, 5 or even 6 separate things. The larger the number of streams, the more likely some of those projects are really simple and straightforward.
An important thing to note here is that, except in situations when students are having challenges with things and you specifically slow things down a bit in response, there is really no difference in homework load. 6 very simple projects may be the same amount of homework as 2 really challenging ones.
I’ve never personally gotten any impression that a larger number of assignments makes students feel more overwhelmed, or makes families feel more likely to quit.
So I just keep in mind my general goal to be working on as many streams as possible at all times, and I do what feels right in each lesson each week, without worrying about any particular target number of streams.