So, the school year is starting again, and it is a perfect time for we music teachers to remind students and parents of our goals for this upcoming year. To have another successful and artistic year with music lessons we need a bit of planning, forecasting and development to help guide us through.
Ask your student about their home practice area and supplies. What do they have at home as far as music stands, appropriate fun music to read, challenging exercises and etudes, pencils, pens, metronomes, blank staff paper, flash cards, tuners, footstools, rosin, valve oil and cleaning supplies? Additionally, ask about their musical devices (tablets, smart phones, etc.) so you can discuss apps that they might use to record and playback and teach themselves note reading, rhythm and theory concepts.
Take some lesson time to review and glance back at last year and bask in their progress! Review recital video and discuss accomplishments. Also investigate their lessons’ notebooks and see how much progress they’ve made. Praise them and see how many songs they accomplished and what books they played through last year. Look at how many weeks it took them to learn a more challenging piece and use that as a gauge to set some goals to do the same thing now. Help them understand how they can speed up that process with more effective use of time and better practice techniques.
Then peek towards the future and talk about what performances opportunities they might be able to take advantage of and what masterclasses they might be able to attend with you or as an extracurricular activity outside of your studio. Look into planning a “studio field trip” to catch a local performance, a national act or artist, or to check out a performance hall, musical, museum or university.
The beginning of a new season and school year is a perfect opportunity to reassign practice goals with the students and the parents. Refresh with them as to how many days a week you expect them to be practicing. Talk about how many times a day they practice and how many minutes they dedicate to their scales, technique, sight reading, piece for a future recital or competition, or college audition. Discuss with them a solid practice regimen where they first review the musical notation and the audio recordings at home, count the rhythms and look for patterns, then practice smaller segments of 4 bars or less: rinse, lather and repeat about 4-5 times! After you understand what you are practicing, then move on to the next section.
Setting the right tone off the bat to get the school year rolling will produce some wonderful musical results! I hope you have a super-awesome and inspiring upcoming new musical year!