December in the studio can be a stressful time for your students. They are likely busy at home, and some may have end of the semester commitments such as choir/drama performances or school finals. With so much going on, this can be a nice time to take it a bit easier on your students and boost their morale by having some holiday fun. Here are a few suggestions for planning holiday parties/activities at the studio:
- Incorporate it into your students regular schedule. Their December calendars are likely full — and yours probably is, too — so don’t add an additional commitment to it. If you teach private lessons to music students, have all your Tuesday students come during the same block of time. Or turn a dance class or group music class into a party/lesson.
- Balance learning and fun at the party. Parents may not appreciate “paying” for a lesson and having their child come home loaded on sugar and having learned nothing. Pick holiday activities that are conducive to learning, or do a shorter lesson and leave time for games at the end.
- Make the party special without going overboard. You don’t want this to be something that gets out of hand for your pocketbook, but you also want it to be something special for your students. Provide holiday goodies, stickers or simple prizes.
So now that I’ve given you some suggestions, let me you with some examples of things I’ve done at my studio or seen done at other studios.
Since I teach group piano classes, we do Nutcracker-themed activities at our last piano class prior to the 2-week holiday break. For my younger students, I read them the story of The Nutcracker while they color a picture of Tchaikovsky. We listen to some orchestral selections and discuss different dynamics and instruments used. I also write rhythm ensembles to accompany pieces from the Nutcracker, and let them play along on the bells and wooden blocks to some of the music.
For my older students, we do similar activities but get into deeper details about Tchaikovsky’s life and the instrumentation of his music, and play more complicated rhythm ensembles. Since we spend November and December working on holiday music, students also prepare a piece to play for their peers.
I provide each student with some type of Nutcracker-themed sticker or prize, and Christmas cookies while we listen to one another perform. We usually end class by playing a theory game — such as piano bingo.
My 4-year-old daughter’s ballet class also provides structured activities for holiday fun during the two weeks prior to their Christmas break. They bring in Nutcracker props, dance along to the music and learn certain (very simple!) choreography from the ballet. They even let them wear crowns like the Sugar Plum Fairy when dancing to her number. She LOVES it.
A little bit of extra planning and some simple activities can boost your students confidence and excitement about music while still teaching them important lessons.