In a recent post, The Masterclass: Then and Now, I discussed the purpose and importance of a Masterclass. Masterclasses are an integral part of my studio and I usually hold two or three per studio year. I enjoy the benefits of having my teaching validated by another colleague and it is so helpful for students to hear the some of the same ideas reinforced in perhaps a slightly different manner.
Here are the steps I use to organize masterclasses in my studio:
1. Decide on clinician – I have asked fellow colleagues, former teachers and local college music faculty to teach at my studio masterclasses. I teach a lot of younger students, so I am always on the look-out for a clinician that will be able to work well with younger children. Find someone that you respect and will be a good role model for your students.
2. Decide on a date range – It is best to select a date range at least one year in advance.
3. Develop a budget for the masterclass – Figure out what you are willing to pay the clinician and decide on a student fee. Consider are how many students will be in each class (I usually run hourly classes with 3 – 5 students per class). I have found that it is best to propose an hourly fee to the clinician, rather than ask them what they charge.
4. Contact your prospective clinician at least six to nine months before the event to inquire about their willingness and availability – Be sure to give them a few available dates from which to choose.
5. Sell it! Include the masterclass notice in your studio calendar. Explain to parents all of the many benefits of both playing in and attending a masterclass offer; e.g., learning from a master teacher, hearing their peers perform as well as seeing a master teacher work with other students. Create excitement about your event! In addition, set a registration deadline one month before the event.
6. Prepare your students – I like to hold masterclasses right before festivals or contests so that students can get extra performance practice and input from another teacher. Regardless of when you hold it, be sure that the students are performance ready so that they will have a positive experience. Be sure to educate them as to how the class will be conducted. Practice “mock masterclasses” so they know what to expect. In my studio, students need to have their pieces memorized and polished. I also ask that the parents be prepared to take notes during the class.
7. Create a schedule and program – Based on how many students have registered, determine how much time you will need. You can schedule based on time preferences of students and families or sometimes it is nice to group students based on age and ability.
8. Contact the clinician with the program which should include student names, ages and pieces they will perform – Do this at least two weeks before the event. At this time, give the clinician the location and directions for the event.
9. Enjoy the day! Take lots of notes for yourself.
10. Gratitude and reflection – I always give the clinician a Thank You note and their payment check at the end of the masterclass day. Later I will go through all of my notes and reflect on what I learned. During the next week at lessons, I debrief with each student by asking what they learned. It is so much fun when students get excited about what they learned and have new motivation and inspiration for their music learning!