to-do list

By Robin Steinweg

Blest be the binder that ties… together the details of my teaching. My Command Central Binder is one of three I’ll keep close this year. They’ll be colorful (because color makes me happy). They’ll be hardy (because I’m hard on them). They’ll be well organized (because I’m order-challenged).

The other two binders will be featured in future posts.

My Command Central binder is the one I need daily. It will help me run my studio smoothly. This information can be found in my computer lesson files. But I like hard copies printed out. I keep them in plastic sheet protectors. Then they don’t rip with continued use.

Command Central, Admin

Command Central Binder

Here are the administrative items I keep in this binder:

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By Robin Steinweg

How do you prepare for fall? A vacation from lessons or a lighter teaching load can offer opportunities to create a master list.

Prepare for Fall

Prepare for Fall

Here are some of my to-dos:

  • Determine available teaching times
    • Will I offer 30, 45 or 60-minute lessons?
    • How many weeks will I teach?
    • Will I give myself weeks off?
  • Send my policy, schedule, and registration forms to students
    • Let students sign up on MTH!
    • Will I get a raise?
    • Does my policy need tweaking or firming up (See other teachers’ policies for ideas)?
    • Will I require parents to initial sections and sign an agreement?
  • Weed my files
    • What haven’t I used in a year?
    • Are files titled for easiest retrieval?
    • Shall I divide by grade level or genre? What works best for me?
    • Might I use a retrieval system—such as Paper Tiger online?
    • Will I donate or sell what I don’t keep?
  • Clean/organize my studio
  • Attend workshops
    • Plan so I don’t purchase duplicates or binge
  • Check instruments for needed maintenance
  • Consider a theme for the year or season
    • Will group classes, recitals and special pieces reflect this theme?
    • Will I decorate according to the theme?
      • (a bulletin board labeled “Prepare for Fall” could contain notes/symbols to identify, or a picture with hidden music symbols. A football field with lesson “yard lines” might make for a prepare for fall practice push)
    • Choose new activities or games
      • A studio-wide motivation chart to record goals met
      • New game for group lessons
    • Contact waiting list if there are timeslots to fill
    • Look for décor, incentives and teaching aids at garage sales, thrift stores or a dollar store
      • Laser pointer
      • Stick with pointing hand
      • Shaped erasers
      • Stickers
      • Prizes for goals met or to add to the studio “store”
    • Waiting area materials
      for the waiting room

      for the waiting room

      • Puzzles
      • Books
      • Music magazines
      • Coloring books and crayons or colored pencils
      • Water bubbler or bottles
      • Swap out materials monthly or quarterly?
    • Add technology—for the techno-challenged, push yourself to try just one!

What would you add? Or do you prepare for fall in a totally different way?

In my August 28th post I’ll have ideas for creating teacher binders. See you then!

 

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As the time comes closer for teachers around the world to organize a Christmas or seasonal recital, it becomes imperative to have a strategy or plan in place.  In most cases, students look forward to their recitals, but the responsibility is on the teachers to make it the most enjoyable experience possible.  Over the next few weeks, I will be addressing several issues and giving suggestions.  I am open to comments, ideas, and requests for articles.

A few examples from my own studio…
We hold recitals 2x/year – one a few weeks before Christmas and another in the spring.  Both are required of all students and are a great way to inspire and motivate… everyone looks forward to it!
I make sure reminders are periodically sent by email or posted on my website for all families to see.

Communication is key.  About 2 weeks before the recital, I send a detailed explanation of what to expect, what to bring, and where to be.  ?

I started having students write a short autobiography to be printed in the program.  Some students draw, paint, or color themed pictures to be included on the cover or inside as original “clipart”.

Students are expected to arrive a minimum of 15 minutes early… to avoid the stress of “running late” and making it much easier on their teacher!  ?  They are required to bring their music – in my studio, students are not required to memorize their pieces (for various reasons to be covered later).  The families also bring a dish or dessert to share afterwards during the reception time.

After the performances, we have awards – I give each student a certificate for performing and another for participating in games online at www.musiclearningcommunity.com and another for student of the month awards (covering the months since our last recital).  Students also receive the certificates from the back of the method books they have passed or any exams passed.  The entire awards ceremony lasts from 5-15 minutes for 30 students.  They love the recognition of their hard work!

Employing volunteer parents to help with set-up and cleanup has lessened the load on my shoulders and is always greatly appreciated!  My family has been a wonderful help as well.

Prior to the recital, be sure to establish…

  • what the students should do upon arriving (check in with you, find a seat, do an activity)
  • where the students will be sitting (as a group or with parents)
  • who is invited to attend (family, friends, etc)… are invitations provided?
  • the cost & when it is due (students, attendees, etc) to cover the costs of rental, use of facilities, any other expenses related to the event
  • media (pictures, video, cell phones)… how do you wish to handle it? (when can pictures be taken?  Are families encouraged to take video and if so, where should they stand or sit as to be the least distracting?)
  • dress code (is this a casual or formal recital?)… what is acceptable and not?
  • volunteers for certain tasks

Suggested To-Do List…

  • Make Programs a day or two before the recital, but not too far in advance or changes will be inevitable and cause unnecessary frustration and stress
  • Make invitations for students – they love ones themed with pianos and music notes!  🙂
  • Verify venue and time – to avoid last minute surprises

These are all technical aspects of a recital, but more to come include…

  • how to deal with stage fright
  • ways to motivate and inspire through recitals… and when to give gifts to your students
  • ways to order students in a program… who goes first?  who finishes up?
  • recital themes
  • reasons for students sitting with parents vs. sitting as a group (I’ve tried both)
  • whether or not to hold any sort of rehearsal before-hand
  • recital etiquette
  • finding a booking a venue/location
  • establishing a day and time
  • refreshments
  • how to put together a program
  • copyright issues in media (making of DVDs or CDs)… recording and copying

Have a wonderful recital and remember to enjoy every moment.  Never forget the amazing memories you are creating in the lives of each of your students and the responsibility we all have to do everything in excellence.  Enjoy!

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