What do you do in your studio for summer? Do you teach? Do you take the summer off? How do you support yourself during the lean summer months?
Perhaps a summer camp is an option to fill the void. If so, now is the time to start thinking about summer. In the past, I have not required that students take lessons during the summer. Typically, I teach six weeks during the summer and students who do take must have at least four lessons during that time. I do this primarily because I like my summer free time! However, I see how it negatively effects those who do not take lessons (not to mention how it negatively effects my pocketbook!) and I may decide to take the plunge this year and require that students either a) Sign up for at least four lessons, b) Sign up for a studio music camp or special class offering, c) Attend a summer music institute or camp of some kind outside my studio, or d) All of the above! Realizing the importance of continuing music study during the summer months, those students taking summer lessons, camps or classes would be guaranteed a reserved lesson time in the fall.
I researched several piano pedagogy textbooks on summer camps and found a plethora of ideas in Beth Gigante’s book, The Independent PIano Teacher’s Textbook. She gives the best advice I could find on researching, developing and organizing a summer a summer music camp. Here is a series of steps I developed for myself in creating a summer program for my studio:
Step 1: Brainstorm – what to do? The ideas are endless. You may want to consider a theme for the camp such as a musical style period, jazz and popular styles, or a specific genre, sight-reading, or other creative activities. Another option is to focus on ensemble music. Hire outside musicians to work with your student on chamber music or even popular music. Activities could include guest performances, a field trip, games, supervised practice, music appreciation, music history, theory, listening, sharing, projects, movie time, topic discussions, all culminating in a a final concert.
Step 2: Survey. One of the best ideas I found in setting the initial plans for a summer music camp were on the Music Matters Blog by Natalie Wickham. She first surveys parents and students on availability for and interest in a music camp. What a great way to get on your studetnts’ busy summer calendar!
Step 2: Develop Ideas. Once the surveys are returned, start making a plan. Consider your resources and make a list of all the things you will need. Decide on location, length and times. Develop a budget. Remember to consider collaborating with another teacher if practical.
Step 4: Publicize and Organize. Send out fliers and registration forms and insist on a deadline in order to determine what you will need for the camp. Gather all materials. Hire extra help, if needed.
Step 5: Implement. Be organized, professional, prepared, and above all, have fun! Know that your hard work will pay off by providing your students with a special experience that will enhance their musical education as well as giving you extra income during the summer.
Being rather new at developing a summer camp, I am very interested in what you have done in the past, what has worked well, and how you and your students have profited.