Setting up a routine is important for having a successful year. Not only does it ensure we make time for the concepts we want to teach, it makes time for when we need to step back & let our students lead. For our special needs students, a routine can be the thing that makes piano lessons a safe & enjoyable part of their week.
For learning, we need to continually changing things up so our brains stay engaged & make those multi-sensory memories. It keeps us from forgetting because we keep accessing the information.
As teachers, we need a certain amount of routine so we get everything done on the administrative side while keeping lessons engaging from beginning to end. Because let’s face it, there is a lot of information to keep track of.
For an introvert like myself, there needs to be enough routine for me to be comfortable, but enough change to keep it exciting. Years ago, I was in a situation where I never knew what was going to happen each day or what the expectations were going to be. I was told I needed to “just be flexible”. To which I replied, “I CAN be flexible … when I have something to be flexible from.” It’s something that stuck with me & is something I’ve tried to build into my studio.
Lesson routine … with flexibility
There is something to be said for routine in lessons. In my studio, my students know they are handing me their points card & practice page right at the start of lesson. They know I’ll be asking how practice went .. & if something didn’t go well, I’ll want to know why. They also know we always have a warm-up & that I’ll be checking in with them before the end of lesson that they feel confident for the upcoming week.
It’s a great routine. But, it could be easy for either of us (teacher or student) to space out if it was exactly the same every single week.
So, we change it up.
- Sometimes students start with lab time instead of being at the piano.
- For lab, we change focus every couple months … & change the apps being used.
- Our warm-ups change throughout the year … & the activities within each are different from each other.
And, sometimes what we have in mind for lesson just isn’t what is going to work for the student that day. They had a rough day or week & just aren’t in a head space to go through the set routine. No worries. Take that step back with the student & meet them where they are.
There are a few things that need to get done each week. And, planning is one of them.
You may be a teacher that jots down some notes at the end of lesson or the end of the day & that’s that.
You may be a teacher that types up practice pages each week before lesson so you know exactly where you would like your student to be by the end of lesson.
Regardless of which method you choose, having a routine in place is essential. Schedule time for:
- Checking lesson notes,
- Checking on overall progress towards the year’s goals (both yours & the students’),
- Gathering music, manipulatives, games, etc. for next lesson
And, while having a planned routine is great … life happens. Instead of writing this during the day with upbeat music to dance to, our day went completely awry so I’m writing in the evening with jazz music playing in the background. And, hopefully tomorrow will go more according to plan so I can take a little time to get my work done. I think one of the biggest advantages to having your own studio is setting your own hours, including buffer time for when life’s emergencies come up.
This is the one thing that I have to consciously make time for. While I’ve made my peace with numbers, it’s not my happy place. At least not like it is for my husband. He loves numbers. Sadly this does not transfer to bookkeeping … so, that’s still on me.
“Administrative” covers a LOT of tasks & I’m sure that there are some that, like me, you would rather avoid. But, we can’t, can we?
What tasks need to be made into a routine for you? It could be:
- Entering in expenses & income on a weekly or monthly basis
- Checking in with clients outside of lessons throughout the year
- Professional development, including practicing piano
- Tracking tuition payments (though hopefully you have this mostly automated)
- Social media & website updates (more on this next week)
The list above is by no means exhaustive, but hopefully it gives you an idea of what may need to be added to the calendar so you run your business instead of letting it take over.
Starting a new term
I’ll be back to work in a few weeks & I’m definitely thinking about what I need to get done before lessons start again. For new students, I’ll be getting their practice pouches & binders ready. For returning students, they get a new binder cover & some updated pages for their binders. For my clients, I know I need to have my social media ready welcoming everyone back & setting up the excitement for the new year.
What do you need to set up BEFORE lessons begin so students are eager & ready to learn?
If you would like a checklist to help you get organized, click the button below!