More on Workshops
Shelly E., Utah
Have any of you had any success extending the student workshops to 12 weeks? I may be able to teach a class or two but they expect me to teach the whole 12 weeks. I know some of you (Mark?) have talked about doing 8 weeks, but do you think it could be done with 12 weeks? Of course, I know I could throw in some comp/improv as well as some variations and arrangements with the 4 pieces. I could possibly extend it by including some more accompaniment using only C,F,G chords as would be taught in Amazing Grace. Also, the class would hopefully be around 8-12 students and would last an hour each week.
Terri P., Michigan
For 12 weeks, I would do an “Intro to Simply Music Piano” class and just use the Level 1 materials, with the variations, and a couple arrangements, depending on the group.
Mark M., New York
With adults, I find I’m able to keep focus/interest enough through the 8 hours, but it would not be considered an efficient SM lesson — it is definitely more time than is actually needed.
With kids, I only taught it without parental involvement — so I needed that extra time just to get the kids all to soak in whatever was possible — almost like a traditional lesson paradigm of having to squeeze as much info in as possible in the short time we had together. And even then most of them didn’t practice at home, so it’s not something I’m likely to try again, not without parental involvement.
Without parental involvement, all results seem very limited to me. With involvement, extra time is less and less needed. It’s hard for me to imagine dragging the curriculum out to 12 hours as is. As it is, my 8 hours curriculum expands beyond the Workshop SHM to include the Basics, variations and improvisation. For 12 hours, I’d be inclined to add more to the curriculum — more in-depth work on variations/arrangements and certainly improvisation/composition, certainly maybe some more accompaniments. In an adult Cont. Ed. workshop, there was definite interest in learning the simple public domain holiday accompaniments, for example.
Barbara M., New Jersey
Sounds like a wonderful opportunity to me. I would use the Level One SHM. Besides improve, you could do more accompaniment songs from the Get America Singing Book (can be order from simplymusic.com) that only use I IV, V chords.
Sandy L., Nebraska
I have actually used the workshop materials over 12 weeks after being encouraged by Neil not only that I could make it work, but that it might be best for me in some situations. I sometimes teach in a couple of environments where I have absolutely no control over who is grouped in a class. Using the workshop materials in this setting (in this case a homeschool co-op) actually was a lifesaver for me last semester when I had a group of students who varied so widely in ability, I wondered if I could really teach them by myself!
Mark had already posted his 8-week plan, which was a tremendous help to me, and which I followed with some variations. The slower students struggled to learn a song in two weeks, while the fast ones learned every arrangement, variation and accompaniment variation I gave them. This particular group contained some reluctant composers, but not one of them had any problem with improv, and most of them were very willing to change songs around to make their own arrangements.
I also had the twin blessings of Christmas coming at the end of the session and the Christmas song chord charts that have gone around on the ECL. All of the students were very successful with the C,F,G accompaniment songs. You could easily make several of your own chord charts for more seasonally appropriate songs, or songs of particular interest to the students to help fill out your 12 weeks.
The main difference between Mark’s and my experience was that this was an environment in which I was allowed to require parent attendance in order for a student to enroll. So both my slow and fast learners had full parental support and it made for really fun sing-alongs in our classes. It also enabled me to devote our first lesson to the foundation conversation and the basics, which I think is more necessary when you are stretching this over 12 weeks as opposed to doing it in 4.
Half the group continued; those who didn’t were one student with learning disabilities whose mom and I agreed he really needed a private lesson (I currently am very limited on time, so couldn’t take a private student), and a pair of siblings driving an hour one way to the class. In both cases, I provided them with information on other teachers in the area and the learn-at-home DVDs, so they all have some option to continue, even if not with me.
For me and for this particular group of students, 12 weeks turned out to be just perfect. Having done it once, I have more confidence that I could make it work again, maybe even with a more evenly matched group!
Original discussion started February 7, 2011