Monday, August 8, 2016

Musical Monday: Back to School


Today it's back to the books for the children in my local school district and back to full time piano teaching for me.

I've always loved this time of year. When I was a kid, it meant going shopping for new clothes and new shoes and school supplies. Of course, now I don't need a new box of crayons but I usually buy one anyway, along with a stack of composition notebooks (on sale, of course) and paper, printer ink, folder, and everything else I need to get ready for a new year of teaching.

Last year, I invested in a comb binding machine and made assignment notebooks for my students. In the notebooks, we kept track of weekly assignments and daily practice along with music terms we encountered throughout the year and a list of pieces memorized. This past weekend, I revamped last year's cover and updated the inside pages and put together this year's notebooks. I am very pleased with the results.


The first page of the notebook is a lesson and practice contract. This week, after I greet each student and hand over the assignment book, I will review the terms of the contract, which includes my expectations about conduct at lessons and practice at home. Then I ask each student to make a realistic commitment to practice a minimum number of minutes each day a specific number of days per week. These numbers vary from student to student but once the page is signed there is little room for excuses for not meeting the established goal. It takes the responsibility for practice off me and places it right where it belongs: on the student.

I also put together music theory folders, a vehicle for transporting weekly music theory assignments to and from lessons, and made thirty sets of music note flash cards for those students who haven't yet made it into the "minute club" - being able to name and play all 24 treble and bass clef line and space notes in one minute or less.

Yes, all this printing, binding, and cutting takes time. But it is time well spent. It gets the academic year off to an organized, intentional start, with goal setting a team effort. Students are empowered for success one practice session at a time.

I will be happy to share my assignment notebook pages (Word documents) and music note flash cards  (PDF file) with any of my readers who might be interested in adapting them for use in their own music studios. Just leave a comment at the end of this post and include your email address. Questions? Leave a comment and I will do my best to answer. Ideas? Please share them here as well. There is so much we can learn from each other!

10 comments:

Chris Morrow said...

This is a great way to start the year, Pam! I would love to see your PDF file. My email is twomorrows93@gmail.com. Thanks for sharing!
Chris Morrow

Pam Asberry said...

Hi Chris! I just sent you the PDF. Thanks for reading!

Stephanie Freeman said...

Wow Pam, very impressive. I would love for you to share your PDF with me. You ARE SO organized. Email address is sfreeman88s@gmail.com . Thanks so much for sharing!

Pam Asberry said...

Hey Stephanie! The PDF is on its way. My pleasure!

ARTZY BEADS said...

Hi Pam would you please send me your assignment book,contract,flash cards,will have to adapt to violin :) artzybeads@gmail.com
Thanks in advance.

Pam Asberry said...

Hi Venus. Done! Hope you have a great teaching year.

Eva Bone said...

Hi Pam! I would love to see your pdf! masterpiecemusicstudio@earthlink.net

Pam Asberry said...

Hey Eva! Check your inbox. And thanks for stopping by!

annette day said...

Hi Pam! I would love to see your notebook assignment pages and the PDF files for notecards. I really need to revamp my assignment books. Thanks so much for your willingness to share. My email is daystudio@BellSouth.net. Hope to see you at conference this year!

Pam Asberry said...

Hi Annette! The files are on their way! I will definitely be at the conference this year and performing with the Redeemer Piano Ensemble following the concerto winners on Thursday night. I am super excited!