Usually, June is filled with outdoor sports, end of year concerts, enjoying the patio & emerging from our cocoons. With the COVID pandemic, things look a little different this year. Or, do they? Students still want to be outside visiting with friends & take a more relaxed approach to their learning. How do we motivate students when the lure of summer calls?
Feeling the pull of summer?
Students & teachers alike tend to feel the pull of vacation weeks before it actually occurs. It isn’t that we don’t like what we are doing. We’re just ready for a change of pace.
Back when I was in university, I realized early on that each semester I would be “done”. It was difficult to get my required work done. Not because it wasn’t interesting. I just needed a change of pace. The year I decided it was a good idea to take 4 senior-level English literature classes made it clear I needed to plan out my semester carefully. Even with careful planning, I was still reading 1+ plays, 1-2 novels, multiple short stories & various other course readings per WEEK.
In my studio, I’ve noticed the same thing with my students year after year.
The kids are ready to say goodby to school assignments, the parents want the image in their mind of relaxing in the evening to actually match reality, & everyone is just a bit more tired & frustrated than usual.
4 Tips to motivate students
While it could be easy to coast along for the last weeks of the school year, there are ways to make piano lessons more enjoyable for EVERYONE.
Keep relationships strong
Rather than trying to push forward full speed until the very last lesson, focus on the relationships you have with your students & clients.
Start lessons with a smile & conversation. Aim to end each lesson with smiles all around as well.
Students want a change from the regular academic schedule.
Rather than wasting energy fighting this natural phenomenon, embrace it!
This can include more games & off-the-bench activities that get students laughing & moving around.
One of my studio’s all-time favourites is rhythm warm-ups. Not only do we get to move around, but we also can do silly actions as well! Once we are on the bench, students improvise which gives them even more flexibility in what they do during the lesson.
Keep standards high, but reduce the expectations
When I was in university slogging through all the course readings & assignments, I discovered something. If I could finish everything, outside of studying for my final exam, at least 2 weeks before the end of the semester I felt so much better.
Sure it meant that I had a big push to get everything done early. But, it also meant that I could keep my standards high while reducing my expectations at a time when I was ready for a break.
In your studio, the same idea is possible.
- Reduce the time you spend on each song/activity.
- Hold student-led conferences
- Improvise using concepts covered during the year
- Encourage students to do a creative project on a musical topic of their choice
- Review songs, but have students play these in new ways
- Have a games-based group lesson either in-person or online
It may feel that when we motivate students it has to be serious activities. This could not be further from the truth.
Laugh often during their lesson!
It could be:
- A sibling deciding to photobomb an online lesson
- Playing a piece starting on a wrong note
- Saying “SQUIRREL!” when someone loses their train of thought
Or, one of your students may play a little trick like one of my little ones did. He yelled “Grandma!” when we were looking at a page in his book. I looked all over my copy wondering where on earth this grandma was. Suddenly he burst into laughter & said “Just kidding! I played a joke on you!” We both had a great laugh & he was ready to look even further at the page to see what else we could discover there.
Keeping students motivated until the very last lesson
Perhaps your dream of relaxing during summer vacation might not quite be here yet.
Let go of the parts that can’t be controlled & be the positive influence on your students (& their families) they need right now.
This is the perfect time to do a new activity with your students. They want a change. The parents want to hear good news about lessons.
For a ready-for-you activity that will get your students & your off-the-bench, click below to purchase “Rhythm Warm-Ups That Get Students Off-the-Bench”.