Beginning the New School Year
It is August and we piano teachers are planning the upcoming academic year. We may have new students in addition to those who are continuing. Here is a good checklist I use in the months leading up to September and for the initial lessons.
1. In late July or early August, send out an information packet to all parents. This packet includes your studio policy, lesson rates and a calendar indicating studio closure dates plus workshops and recitals. One of the pages is the sign-up form with an empty chart in which parents indicate the days and times their child is free for the weekly lesson. This will allow you to review and juggle the information to create the best schedule accommodating each student’s needs.
2. Take time to review the progress of each student and create immediate and long range goals in the areas of new repertoire, theory, technique, sight-reading, and improvisation/composition. Designing a plan for each student in advance is extremely helpful in navigating the direction of his/her lessons.
3. Organize your studio! Make sure you review your library of books and materials. Order books early enough to have them available for the first lesson. Have learning aids and supplementary books on hand so that you don’t need to waste time when the student arrives.
4. The first lesson should be a joyous reunion. Make sure to take time to inquire about the student’s summer and the activities of the upcoming year. This information is valuable in assessing available practice time. For example, one high school student of mine is on a diving team. She is in training most days of the week so we needed to strategize about when she’d be able to practice. We agreed on a short period before school and longer sessions on the weekend.
5. To get the year off with a bang, I always have the student pick a new piece that is particularly exciting to him/her. When students are motivated initially, this sets the tone for the whole year!
6. A few words of encouragement and optimism regarding a student’s potential achievements in the coming year can result in that student making piano studies a priority!
I’m sure you have additional ideas and would love to read what you do at the beginning of the school year!