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Essential resources for planning your piano workshop activities

By Marie Lee | Summer Camps

May 03

summer camps piano rx

I’m so glad that Inner Circle member Marie Lee (who you saw on TTTV Podcast Episode 37) has been able to write a blog article this week, continuing the theme of Summer Camps and planning your Piano Workshop Activities.

In this article Marie tell it how it is: if you’re not providing summer camp/workshop options, you may need a new prescription! 

She explains how any teacher can get started with small workshops, where they can find resources and games and how to use a “whirly whistle tube” (yes, that was a new term for me too!) to ensure maximum camp registrations. 

Grab a coffee, find your notepad and start planning. Over to you, Marie!

Doctor’s Orders: Your Studio Needs a Change this Summer

Pharmacist Holding Pill Bottles

Change is energizing. It’s good for our health. Students study piano for years and years. Why not shake things up a bit by offering your students a musical prescription of fun and variety this summer?

To some teachers, the words summer camp sounds overwhelming.

I actually prefer to call mine workshops.

I’ve gotten rid of the stress of finding a large location and planning activities for a multi-day, multi-hour camp by offering 3-4 consecutive day classes for 45-90 min per day for 6-8 students.

Workshops are easy to hold in my regular studio and even easier to plan! I just treat it as an extended group class worked around a theme. Like I said, easy!

Here’s my summer flyer and course offerings:

Summer workshop flyerSummer course offerings

Check out class descriptions on my Sign-Up Genius registration form by clicking here.

Because summer workshops have so many benefits, and I want to get the most bang for my buck, I always keep these five goals in mind when planning:

Checklist for Getting Started

Reinforce

What skills do your students need extra work on—rhythm, note reading, or technique?

Summer is the perfect time to really drill down on basics in a fun, off-the-bench setting.

Market

Summer is a time for fluctuation as parents decide about whether to sign their kids up for piano in the fall. There’s not a better time to market to your old students and reach out to potential students! I use my spring recitals to display books/supplies for upcoming summer camps. I also hype it up at the studio.

This year, I have a few ensembles in my recitals that directly advertise my summer workshop offerings. We’re surprising the audience by adding Bucket Drumming to a few pieces and performing body percussion from the Lap-Tap-Clap Revolution book.

For over 13 years, I’ve always offered Mayron Cole’s Blast Off with Piano for New Beginners to introduce new students to our studio and get them hooked for the fall. The complete lesson plans are available for purchase so all the work is done for you!

This summer I’m experimenting with a Blast Off w/Parents workshop where a parent joins their beginner child at the piano and they learn together. Excited to see how that goes! Maybe I’ll even pick up a few adult students in the process.

I’m currently offering a promotion with my current students that they’re really excited about: “Get a friend to sign up and you both get a whirly whistle tube.” It’s easy for my kids to invite their friends because I’m offering more general, non-piano options like Bucket Drumming, Rhythm Cups, Stomp-Boom-Blast and Lap Harp.

Diversify

What else can you offer that’s still music-related but would appeal to your students?

  • Jennifer Eklund’s composition book Write that Down is available in the file section on her Piano Pronto Facebook page.
  • Direct one of Mayron Cole Piano’s operettas and you’ve hooked students to meet several times over the summer. They involve piano playing, singing, acting, and dance, culminating in a performance for family and friends. Could be a great money-maker and team-building activity for your studio. Even better, offer this workshop or hold your performance at a local community center for instant marketing.
  • Do you sing? Why not offer a vocal workshop like Sara Campbell. I’ve heard of piano and dance teachers teaming together to offer dance/piano workshops—brilliant!
  • Ukulele classes? Lap Harp?
  • Are you good with technology? Midnight Music has lots of free lesson ideas for you and your techie students. You’ll be the piano teacher everyone’s talking about if you offer technology this summer!

Trend

Sorry traditionalists. I tend to steer away from “Music History” and “All about Music” camps as they don’t capture my kids’ interest.

Every summer I keep it relevant by building workshops around current pop and movie music. Star Wars, Phineas and Ferb, Harry Potter and Taylor Swift have been past favorites. Castle Escape and Land of the Middle Seas by Daniel McFarlane have also been big hits. There’s word on the street that Castle Escape 2 might be released soon–we’re holding our breath, Daniel!

It’s worth taking a look at Piano Pronto solo books for ideas, as well.

Daniel Patterson offers Book Blasts camps where his students complete an entire level in a method book in record time. For the right type of student, this could be a huge motivator for them and good income for you.

How about using looping apps or keyboard sounds to create mash-ups of pop songs; layering different “voices” in the style of Pentatonix or Mike Tompkins. Click here to see the video of how we did this in our studio with twenty students and Taylor Swift’s Shake it Off as our recital finale last year.

Each student learned a different layer of the piece then we added them in one by one until the entire group was playing. The audience couldn’t help but clap along!

shake_it_off

Prep

Finally, I use summer workshops to prepare for upcoming community events.

Our local MTNA organization offers a Jazz, Rags, and Blues festival in September and Ensemble Festival in October at a local university. Having had a successful Junior Festival experience this past spring, my students can’t wait to be on a Piano Team for Ensemble Festival this fall.

We’ll use the summer to meet as teams, learn two pieces, throw in a little choreography and plan our costumes. And now I’ve got them hooked to come back in the fall!

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A Prescription for Fun

You’ll be interested to know I’m currently collaborating with the ultra-creative minds of Leila Viss and Heather Nanney to compile a detailed group class/summer workshop resource like no other!

If you know anything about these two ladies then you’ll know you and your students are in for a real treat! Be sure to subscribe to their blogs so you don’t miss out.

Everyone benefits from something different — teachers, students, large music schools and small private studios. You’ll find new energy and more satisfaction in your career as you enjoy the laughter and smiles of your happy students.

Summer workshops – just what the doctor ordered!

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About the Author

Owner of Musicality Schools in the Las Vegas area with over 100 students. Marie uses group piano classes to motivate and inspire musicians so they can enjoy a lifetime of creative and beautiful music making. Her patient, but high-energy teaching style leverages encouraging motivation for students along with the strengthening positive peer pressure of the class. She encourages creative performance methods and effective musicianship goal setting and awards to develop life-long skills of confidence and self-discipline. Private piano teacher for 25 years. Group piano teacher for 13 years.

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