Over the summer, I like to make a list of tasks that I want to accomplish before the rush of a new school year starts. While I like to relax as much as the next person,  there is something about extended periods (more than 1 week) of doing nothing that just doesn’t work for me.

While this year I will be making a bigger effort to take some extended time off for the first part of the holidays, my husband is right.  I WILL go crazy if I don’t have something to do after the first week or two.  There really is something relaxing about having a plan already in place for the fall.  And, from what I have read from other teachers, I am not alone in this warped sense of ‘relaxing’ over the holidays.

Rather than making a big list (like I usually do), this year I thought I would focus on big-picture goals or ideas that I could easily get into … once the euphoria of lazing on the deck wears off.

The big ideas or changes that I want to make in my studio for the fall are:

  • take a more systematic process in teaching concepts … especially in spiraling concepts
  • add more vocalization & body movement into learning.

Intro Activities

In the last few months, I have begun to include intro activities for the majority of my students.  Even though my students participate in the travel music lab, I like to check every once in awhile how they are doing in ear training, sight reading, rhythm, etc.  However, because this is a recent addition there really wasn’t a plan beyond “What will I do this week?”

Over the summer, I would like to brainstorm a list of activities that cover all the major components of their musical growth but take no more than 5 minutes to complete.  I already have a list of articles covering all these concepts going in Evernote.  The plan will be to get them into a spreadsheet that covers these ideas a bit more systematically in conjunction with my next goal …

What do I want my students to be able to do?

While I make growth plans for my students each year, I was inspired to go a bit further this upcoming year after reading several articles & attending an online workshop about creating curriculum.  The questions I will be asking myself are:

  • What do I want my students to be able to do after their first year with me?
  • What about after their second/third/fourth/etc. year?
  • What about when they leave my studio?

I think this will be my most challenging goal of the list.  It will require me to go through what my students typically accomplish in a year, the method books that I tend to use, & … here is the big one … figure out how I want to spiral concepts from year to year.  What are the big concepts (or learner outcomes) that I want each student to have mastered each year? … Regardless of the amount of practice a student puts in or whether they have a learning/behaviour difficulty.

Getting Vocal

This next year, I would like to incorporate more vocalization into lessons with my students.  While my students are used to me humming or quietly singing if they are struggling with a section, I would like to get them doing more of this on their own.  One of the articles that caught my eye was “The 5 Steps of Teaching Pitch” by Darlene Abbott.  When I looked at her list of activities, I was struck by how much overlapped with concepts we teach students already in piano lessons.  In addition, I will be using several Kod├íly, Dalcroze, & Orff resources that I already own to come up with an approach that works for both my students & me.

Getting jiggy with it

Kids have energy & need to move.  Rather than fight it, I decided a long time ago to just incorporate it into lessons.  However much like my intro activities, I haven’t really had a systematic approach.  It was really whatever my students needed at the time.  Over the summer, I will be brainstorming a list of activities that fit with the progression of what my students will be doing throughout the year.  Music Educator Resource’s “10 Body Beat Activities to Engage Students Today!” has already given me 10 fantastic ideas to get me going!

How do you relax … teacher style?

Reading up on new educational literature, planning for the new year, prepping activities.  Let’s face it.  Us teachers have a bit of a warped sense of relaxing.  My theory is that if it can be done at the beach, on a road trip, or hanging out on the deck it still counts as relaxing.  That’s my story & I’m sticking to it!

How will you be ‘relaxing’ this summer?  Leave your comments below!

If you are wanting to ‘get jiggy with it’ as we head into the weekend, watch the video below. And, if you choose to dance & sing at the top of your lungs … no one’s judging.  (You have no idea how much I was grooving to this song & the ensuing 90’s hip hop videos that YouTube thought I would like!)

Have a great weekend!

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