Music Teacher's Helper Blog

Gratitude and the Simple Group Class

 

well played... and next a bow!

well played… and next a bow!

Life-after-music for teachers might be full of family, work, caregiving, education, etc. For stressful times I recommend a bare-to-the-bones group (master) class rather than anything prep-intensive. I couldn’t have been more pleased with my latest. I use these classes partly to prepare students for a recital, partly to take advantage of teaching in a different setting, and partly to allow them to spend time with others in private instruction (let them know they’re not alone J).

Ahead of Time:

I searched for possible games and found or invented four.

Printed out or gathered materials for games.

Purchased ingredients for snacks and put them together (cookie frosted snowmen and crackers & cream cheese snowmen).

Wrote a list of my goals for the class.

Entered the group/master class into the MTH calendar.

Tasty snowmen

Tasty snowmen

What I Brought:

Four games contained in Ziplock bags (we had time for only two of them, but it’s best to be prepared).

Snack bags for each student (again, I made four extra just in case).

What We Did:

1. Brief discussion of recital etiquette.

I asked for an example of bad etiquette, and my cell phone rang.

Unplanned. Sure, it was funny. But as it turns out, my mother had fallen and

broken a vertebra. My husband was calling from ER.  A neighbor had shown up

as my students were arriving, to tell me about her fall. That’s when I turned on

the phone. It turned out to be a great teaching moment—when is it acceptable to

have a cell phone on?

2. How to bow.

A couple of students demonstrated a simple bow. Then we had a few examples of outrageously bad bows.

3. Mini-recital.

Each student played a piece for the others, and they made positive, specific comments about each performance. One student faltered pretty badly, and someone highlighted what a great bow he’d done!

**Did you notice that up to this time there were no props? Only the piano, which was already in the room.

Around the Clock in 4/4 Time

Around the Clock in 4/4 Time

4. Two group games.

One game to practice reading rhythms, the other to practice naming keys (Most

of those who came were young beginners). They had a blast!

Say 'em, then play 'em

Say ’em, then play ’em

How it Ended:

I handed out the snack bags. The students not only thanked me for them and for the class, but most told me they’d pray for my mom. How sweet.

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How Long the Class Took:

1 hour, 5 minutes.

 

Afterward:

This is when I became really grateful for the simplicity of the event…

I put game materials back in baggies, grabbed my purse and coat.

Closed the piano lid, turned off the piano light.

Turned down the thermostat.

Turned off lights and locked up.

Drove to the hospital.

Ten minutes!

Follow-up:

Mom had an MRI. We’ll see the surgeon later, so all I can report now is that we are thankful for the care she’s receiving at the hospital.

I’m grateful that I didn’t serve snacks and beverages in the fellowship hall afterward. No vacuuming, no washing floor, dishes and tables, no dozen trips back and forth to load up the car.

Keep It Simple, Sweetie! Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours.

About the Author

Robin Steinweg
I'm Robin Steinweg, happy to join the team of bloggers at Music Teachers Helper. I teach students of every age piano, guitar and voice (sometimes clarinet & recorder); perform; direct choirs; compose for students, choirs and worship; love to learn and improve. I'm wife of one and mother of two recently-launched musicians. Presently I am caregiver for my mother, a vocalist, drummer and pianist ... [Read more]

7 Comments

  1. Lori Lipsky

    Group classes are such a wonderful encouragement for students to practice, and then another opportunity for performance. Thanks for the great supplement ideas. I will pray for your mom, too. Sounds like you have some wonderful students.

  2. Kyle Cullen

    It’s a great Idea to do recitals. I’m a drum teacher and have spoke to local guitar and bass teachers about trying to do a joint show. We would get the students to all form bands and perform together.

    Unfortunately it seems hard to get the other teachers to commit. I might just book a hall and get my students to play with a house band.

  3. Kyle Cullen

    Also forgot to say. I wish your mother a speedy recovery

  4. Robin Steinweg

    Thanks, Lori. You’re right, these classes are encouraging for students. And yes, I think they’re pretty special. 🙂 Thanks for prayers!

  5. Robin Steinweg

    Kyle, thanks for reading. It sounds like a terrific idea to get students playing together. I imagine logistics might cause a problem–schedules, ack! But I hope you find a way. How motivating it could be.
    (thanks for well-wishes–my mom is home from the hospital, sore, but home)

  6. Edna Bloom

    These ideas make a group lesson seem far less daunting and therefore far more likely to happen. Thanks for posting!

  7. Robin Steinweg

    Edna, I appreciate your words. I agree, I’m more likely to hold group classes regularly when they are simpler. Whenever I come across ideas I place them in a Word document for later, so I don’t forget.

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