Janita P., Nebraska
Last night we held our second night of the SM Workshop through our local Community Ed program. The class of 15 (an enrollment glitch!) knew NS BHT and learned JBLUES BHT in 30 minutes or less. Large group instruction warrants the use of 90% practice pads, which is a great testimonial to the power of learning off the keyboard!
To help with the logistics of all 15 around the piano, I brought my son along who is in Level 9 and we split the group using a piano and a keyboard, so it was manageable. We even had time for comp and improv using NS.
If you haven’t thought about teaching a SM Workshop, think about it seriously! IT is a great (cheap!) marketing tool as I plan on starting two new groups (10-12 students) in November mainly from my Workshop students
I only had four weeks with this class but will have five weeks with the Kearney class, so I had a limited amount of time to talk as I had an agenda to teach a song each week.
I did require them to fill out the Practice Schedule and show it weekly in class as I talked about practicing being important.
I didn’t hit the LTR as it is not applicable for four weeks. They were flying high the whole time. Yippee!
I did a mini FIS (15 min.?) as an intro the first night. I did play the four songs for them, but did not show the testimonial video.
I did ask how many are from the traditional background and told them this would be a paradigm shift for them and to trust me as their teacher. But, I could also make light of it, such as, “You only have to do it this way for four weeks and then you can go back to your old ways, etc.” Ha ha ha.
I didn’t bother with Studio policies as they weren’t applicable.
We did go over their Workshop Materials and talked about each component.
We did take notes at the end of each session, but I did not train them how to do it.
I did tell them to watch the DVD that night but did not require it.
I did not require each student to play the song the next week; I only asked for volunteers.
My idea was to give them the “sell” the last week of class of their three options:
1) These four and no more.
2) Future Comm. Ed piano classes in the spring
3) And I just happen to have new classes starting in November… Tell them about new studio classes forming soon.
Well, they beat me to the punch tonight as they asked the question, “Where can we go from here?”
I did send out my October Newsletter last week as I gathered all their email addresses.
This week I will send them the Christmas ACC songs in C as we did A Grace tonight.
Next week I will send them a thank you letter for taking the class and a personal note on their progress.
I will keep them on my newsletter email list until they tell me differently.
Basically, I threw in tidbits as they were applicable. For instance, we did NS ACC Improv and I told them, “Normally you would learn the NS ACC, but since you have the “microwave version” of SM…”
There seems to be no one right way to teach the SM Workshops as you can focus mainly on the songs and having fun with the class.
When they start lessons on November 3rd, I will start with the usual Foundation Session.
You’ll thoroughly enjoy the Workshops!
Mark M., New York
I wonder if depending on the size of the group and the length of each session if maybe the schedule could be something other than just strictly 1 song per week. That might open the door to some additional content in one or more sessions.
Tangentially, since I myself only just recently have gotten to actually start the workshop as I’d always intended, I finally had to flesh out just what parts of those other conversations I would do and when. So I thought I’d share that with you.
First session — Setup and The Basics — Now begins like an FIS, with abridged versions of the Welcome, Traditional Programs, Simply Music Premise, and Simply Music Program sections. Amount of abridgment depending on time/circumstances (e.g., more abridged for an afterschool kids-only audience). Demo of the 4 main genres, but using the workshop songs instead of the standard FIS demo selections. Then into The Basics, taught the same way as in ongoing lessons (I’ve created a handout to remind them of details, in the absence of The Basics from the workshop SHM DVD), and then a brief description of practice routine.
Final session — “Recital” and Wrap-Up — I don’t want to turn the last session into a hard sell, since I want people to leave with a mostly celebratory sense of completion, having had the chance to perform a number of their songs in a repertoire review / “recital.” I’ve made a “Moving Forward” handout that summarizes the Outline section of the FIS, giving a vision of what lies ahead in the program if they were continue lessons. Toward the end after performance, I plan to give out the handout, describe its contents briefly, and play for everyone more developed versions of the songs — e.g., a Night Storm arrangement, Alma Mater Blues with Blues Scale Ending, Ode to Joy extended combining regular version with triads and zigzag, Amazing Grace variation with alternate chords — and tell them that along with dozens of other songs they’d build these more developed versions of their songs within a year or so. With that little conversation, the door is open if anyone is really motivated there and then to convert to ongoing lessons. For anyone who doesn’t right away, they may not want it or they might feel pressure in that moment, and so they take the handout home and I also have their contact info from the enrollment form, so opportunity remains.
So, though, abridged, a fair amount of the FIS content actually finds its way into the workshop this way, helping bridge that gap between education and recruitment.
Bethanie M., Montana
I did the 4 week workshop in Sept. and I didn’t do the foundation conversation at all during the workshop. I decided that I would wait to do that if they continued on with lessons for the next month. It worked out pretty well. I kind of have mixed feelings on it. My thoughts on it were if they were only going to do the workshop and realize that the program wasn’t for them, then I didn’t think the foundation session would be necessary. For those that continued, I kind of wished that I would have did it before the workshop. Not sure yet what I will do with my next workshops. Still working that through in my head:)
Mark M., New York
I just recently had some students continue past the workshop curriculum. I chose to split the Foundation Session over the subsequent two lessons, allowing us to continue to progress a bit with new music projects as well. The last workshop session was a repertoire review where no new material was introduced, and also they were obviously already weeks in and used to getting new material on a regular basis. For both these reasons I felt justified in splitting the talk so as not to have a second week in a row with no new material. Seemed to work okay.
Shelly E., Utah
Janita, what do you mean by the NS ACC Improv? I’m guessing you mean that you played ARRangment 1 of Night Storm (which is an accomp) and you let them improvize a melody using NS as their guide? Is that right or no? Did they just improvize using their right hand only?
Thanks for all your detail about how you handled the workshop! It’s very inspiring.
Janita P., Nebraska
Correct. The student would place five RH fingers over five notes in NS position in the upper octaves and play any notes in any order, except not NS pattern for the improv.
It’s a very impressive improv for the class to do after they have learned NS. They will think you are a musical wizard!
Original discussion started December 30, 2009