Having a studio recital is a lot of work. And, it’s completely worth it. But, you may be thinking, “The recital is over … now what?”
Maybe you are feeling burnt out or “burnt out adjacent” (the feeling of don’t-add-anything-more-because-I-am-JUST-barely-able-to-get-everything-done). I was definitely feeling burnt out adjacent in the last few months. And, our studio recital was my last big project of the school year. On the way home from the recital I was proud of my students, happy, tired, … & strangely philosophical as I talked to my husband about the studio culture that I’ve worked at developing for years. A culture that was so evident at the recital.
And, then Monday came & I knew that I needed a plan for the last 2 months of lessons before summer break. Thankfully last summer I had made that plan!
A Fun Review Studio Project
When I asked my students at lesson this week how their practice went, almost every student looked a little sheepish & said they hadn’t practiced. Turns out they practiced a lot before the recital & then after the recital, “well it was Mother’s Day & forgot to get back into the other songs on Monday & …”
But, I was prepared for this lack of practice after the recital. I knew that both my students & I would need to start something new to get our energy up & interest going again. So, my studio started a new warm-up & new studio project this week!
This is a time of year when students & teacher alike start feeling the pull of vacation.
This is a time for a change of pace, a change of focus, & activities that draw together everything students have learnt over the course of the year.
For the last weeks of lessons, we will
- Warm up at each lesson with a short improvisation activity
- Go through a composing project with exploratory activities to be completed during the week.
And, the best part is that we have been preparing for this project all year!
I’ll admit that teaching composition has not been my strength. It isn’t that I haven’t tried in the past. I just haven’t always thought about what my students needed to have as base skills to complete the projects. Which led to limited success.
So when I did my year-long planning last summer, I thought about all the skills my students would need to complete an honest-to-goodness, this-could-be-notated-and-shared-with-others, song that had a clear form, rhythm, melody, & accompaniment. And, then those became our warm-ups this year.
In our first lesson, we covered:
- Rhythm: Put these measures in an order that you like … then, clap/tap/say the rhythm like we did in our rhythm warm-ups.
- Chords: Practice these chord progressions for each section. Remember how we explored different ways to sing the chords in our warm-up? Do the same for your practice.
As we go through the project, we will cover:
- Melody: Melody often has notes within the chord played. The singing chord warm-ups & technique challenge will be reviewed.
- Accompaniment: I have a list of over 10 accompaniment patterns with variations for students to try out. The rhythm & sight-reading warm-ups will come into play as students think about what they have liked over the course of the year.
- Notation: Depending on the level of the student, this will look different for each. The note-reading & theory blitz challenges will come in handy as we talk about how what they are playing will look on a page.
My students thought it was pretty cool that even things we did in September are coming back to help them as they create a song from scratch! And, everything is easily levelled to where they are & what they have covered.
For my beginning students, chances are those chords will just be 1 note in the LH & notation may just be letter names written on a sheet. For my more advanced students, they could very well have notation with dynamic, articulation & who knows what other markings added. This is a review of everything we’ve done, but I’m keeping my preconceived notions of what their songs should look like at the end out of it.
Ideas For Summer-Ready Teachers & Students
We may be ready for vacation, but the calendar is telling us it isn’t quite time yet. That’s okay!
As teachers, we can:
- Add a new warm-up that doesn’t take planning.For me, this is using the “Pattern Play” books by Akiko & Forrest Kinney as the basis of our improvisation warm-ups.
- Get together with other teachers in our area for a planning session … or, plan a date for the end of the school year.
- I did this last year & it was incredibly beneficial both in planning, but also having a day to talk ideas with other teachers. We were able to introduce new resources to each other that helped each person’s goals.
- Send a short client survey.Doing this after a successful recital might work out well for you since parents have just seen & heard how amazing their kids are!
- Engage in a little self-care.With the warmer weather, maybe a walk on a morning or evening that your don’t teach is just what the doctor ordered. And, who is to say you couldn’t listen to some podcasts, listen to some new music, or just enjoy walking?
- This week, our family walked to & from the library (about 4 kilometres walk total). Not only did our kids tell us all about what is going on in their lives, but we got new books as well!
For students, we can:
- Focus on songs THEY want to learn, not their method books
- Do activities where we show & remind them of how their past learning is helping them … great for re-enrolment.
- Hold a student-led conference so they can teach their parents something from this year.
- Group lesson week! Our studio does these the last week of lessons. These are the lessons most likely to be cancelled, the kids are done attention-wise with regular lessons, & we get a chance to be outside. It’s a win-win!
Recital Is Over …. What Are YOU Doing?
I would love to hear from you!
What is your studio doing in the last weeks or months of lessons?
Let us know in the comments below.
Have a great weekend!