Piano Summer Camp
Claude D., Canada
I’m a Simply Music teacher for 1 1/2 years, and last summer I did not teach. I noticed how in September my students had forgotten their piano pieces. I was pleasantly surprised at how fast they could remember their play list (short one for sure, they were F1 and F2, so not too many to call from their memory to their fingers).
But, I’m right now doing a kind of brainstorming to find appealing ideas to do with them during the summer. I know that some are interested in continuing during the holidays. I want something fun and relaxing. I think of doing group lessons with them.(They are all in private lessons) I also thought of a camp (piano, painting, pool, history or biography, yoga) well…I’m starting reading rhythm soon, I love those “cup rhythm”…I think it could be a lot of fun.
Please can you share what you are doing in the summer with your students? I want something that sounds and feel different than what’s on the program during the year (even if I want to keep working with the SM pieces) and at the same time I want to feel that I have holidays also. I want to free my mind!
I teach every other week in the summer- it’s a group lesson and I turn the focus on extra accompaniment pieces that they request and on Composition in the summer. I do accompaniment, composition, and improvisation during the school year too but I don’t have time to put as much emphasis on them as I’d like, so summer is the perfect time to do it. It is not, however set up as a Summer Camp structure- they are very much just lessons. I like it also, because if one student misses a lesson the next lesson doesn’t build upon the previous as much as it does in Foundation streams so it works well for vacationing families.
In addition to regular lessons I am thinking of doing a week-long summer piano camp to focus on accomp, improv, and comp. just for beginners who have never had the foundations programs yet, the idea is to get them hooked and then in Sept. they will want to start up the complete lessons. So, I’d also like to hear more about summer camp ideas…. how do you condense a ton of new learning into one week and is it okay to teach accomp before you teach foundations?
I have been thinking about doing Summer Camp this year too, for exposure purposes and to get new students in the fall. I was thinking of mixing a few games, crafts into this relating to music appreciation, expression…and maybe a composer or two on history relating to composition.
Claude D., Canada
Thanks for sharing. I love the idea of doing mostly accompaniment, improv and compo in the summer and then…back to foundation in September.
I did concentrate a bit in the 4 last weeks on accompaniment. Next week, I’m doing an accompaniment party! Looking forward to see how it goes!! It is a lot of fun because children ask me for specific popular songs and they love it. The only thing I find that we became a lot slower in moving forward in the Foundation pieces. Doing the accompaniment in the summer and the accompaniment party in September when they’re back to the regular classes could be a nice motivation.
Joan H., Canada
Last summer was my first after starting teaching. I decided to suggest that all students come for 3 lessons over the 9 week break of summer. I gave them a slight break on the cost (ie. $10 less than the cost of 3 lessons), and also offered a free 4th lesson if they wanted to choose to come for an extra. All families without exception were happy to come (about 18 students at the time). The main reason I cited was that the accountability would prevent the need to play catch up in September and spend a month getting back to where we left off in June. I plan to suggest the same thing this year to my 34 students – I don’t feel I can mandate this but by providing solid rationale, focused on THEIR ROI (return on investment) vs MY teaching revenue, families seemed to understand and happily bought in.
I like the summer camp idea, but am away for half the summer myself, so this is the right option for me, and may be helpful for some of you as well, as you consider your options.
Laurie Richards, Nebraska
Here are a few ideas to mix things up a bit in the summer, regardless of what you do with class schedules:
- Focus on one of the supplemental programs throughout the summer (while keeping the playlist alive, of course):
- Songs for Children
- Songs for Everyone
- Duets program
- I usually offer a Summer Playlist Challenge, which the kids love. I provide a list of things to choose from each week to complete; if they complete a certain number of items, they get a prize (dollar store items). Some examples:
- regular playlist items which are just more challenging in summer, like practicing at the same time every day, or practicing immediately after the lesson
- performing in a public place
- composing a new song
- fun ones like decorating the playlist, writing goofy lyrics or putting an unusual spin on a playlist song
- teaching a song to someone
- Another teacher posted about having her students polish pieces to perform at retirement centers during the summer and performing several times. She had a clever name for it, but alas I do not remember it, or who the teacher is…
- Depending on your studio setup, summer can be a great time to do extra fun projects involving Garage Band, or even a digital keyboard using different sounds and/or percussion. I would use playlist songs – fun way to keep them alive with a twist.
- If you want to increase your student numbers, summer is the perfect time to offer a 4-week (or 5- or 6-week) workshop using the workshop materials. I have retained several new students in this way.
I keep the same teaching schedule over the summer with a full week off and a few other days, but I think these ideas can work in some way with most scheduling scenarios.