School’s out and after a tumultuous year, it’s time for the kids to have a well earned rest. Their school books get shoved into the cupboard at home and instruments are packed away and forgotten about – that is, until two days before term starts when they remember that piece they were supposed to play, accompanied by ‘I did practice!’ during the first lesson back in September.
You might find your students’ stagnation frustrating, especially when re-teaching a lot of what was covered in the previous term due to the summer break. Well, it’s tough to take – but this is on you, teachers! It’s your problem to sort out. It’s easy to berate pupils and their parents for the lack of practice over the summer holidays, but often they haven’t been given clear expectations or a structure for support. It’s not the responsibility of parents and learners to come up with a practice schedule.
A Fresh Approach
At the end of the year, children really do need a break. A week or two gives them a chance to reset and refresh. But how can you hit the ground running in September? Here are some easy steps to get your students practising and stop your music teaching from completely shutting down over the summer:
- Encourage students and parents to think about when they want to have a break and when they want to progress. It’s much easier to adhere to practice when you have it scheduled in advance.
- Summer lessons and work can look different – it’s a chance to make sure any pressure is removed. A chance to set challenges which don’t have to lead to technical progress in the same way, but keep the child physically playing their instrument so that they don’t lose the facility and ability to play.
- Offer 15-minute online check-ins. An opportunity to make a little money over the summer!
- Explain to the parents that you understand the need to rest, but that they will have wasted their money on lessons if their development stagnates. They may as well not have forked out for the past half term! This may well be the understanding they need to help their children with summertime playing.
A cultural reset is needed. It’s time to take a more holistic view of our students’ progress and not leave them to fend for themselves over the summer. Here is a chance to really invest in your pupils and take pride in what they – and you – achieve. By making this extra effort with your music teaching business during the summer, you will reap the rewards during the rest of the year. So what are the benefits?
- Ensure that you don’t lose clients – kids are more likely to keep up their instrument if they’ve enjoyed playing it over the summer.
- It’s easier than ever to keep in touch with students – even if it’s just an online check-in twice over the summer break, you’ll be able to see the difference.
- Reminding the pupil that their instrument exists during the summer (and that they actually enjoy playing it) will be a self fulfilling positive investment. The outcome of any practice will be much greater if they have a summer goal to work towards.
- If the student records a clip to send to you once a week or fortnight, you could charge to give feedback as they progress! Don’t be afraid to offer products and services – just make sure those that you do offer are of real value to the student and parent.
Whilst we all need a well-earned break over the summer holiday, making small adjustments during this time can pay dividends – for you and your student – throughout the rest of the year. How do you plan on keeping in touch with your students over the summer?
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