Today I begin my first session of Piano Olympic Training Camp. Every summer I do either a camp or a choice of workshops students can participate in. I thought I would blog about how I go about music camps and workshops each year and give some ideas that might help teachers that have thought about holding one but not quite sure how to go about it.
First to explain the difference between a camp and a workshop… Camp- typically has several topics that you are teaching in one setting. Workshop- is more focused. For example the subject is only on composing.
Today’s post will concentrate on Why, When and Who.
1) Why music camps and workshops?
– Schedule conflicts. Avoiding schedule conflicts with vacations or other events that might happening in certain times of the year. I live in AZ where it can get pretty hot during the summer. Many families want to leave the heat and go somewhere cooler but I can’t afford not to teach in the summer. So camps and workshops are the next best thing. Matter of fact, my families appreciate and me and my students prefer it because it is so fun!
– Review/Learn something new. This is a great time not only to review what students are learning through the year, but to learn something new that can’t be fit in the regular weekly lessons. When I say learn something new. This isn’t necessarily just for students. When I decide a topic that I would like to do a workshop on, I consider topics that maybe I’m not as strong in but would like to improve in. For example, one year at my spring recital I had a student draw four note out of a hat where I was to start an improvised piece from and create a theme per se based off of those four notes. If you were to ask me even 5 years ago to do this, I would have told you, you were crazy! But because I have gone to workshops like Forrest Kinney (Pattern Play), I was motivated to implement improvisation in my studio and would hold workshops, and group lessons on improvising. This allowed not only my students to grow but for me to grow as well. Another workshop that I have done during the summer was on reading lead sheets which is something I was never comfortable in doing but had the desire to get better at it. Bu picking a topic that I’m not comfortable doing, gives me the drive to learn all I can about the topic so I can teach it to my students.
–Retain income. Music camps allow me to retain income that could drop dramatically during those summer months but at the same time give me and my students a much needed break.
2) When should I hold a music camp or workshop?
I hold my camps and workshops starting the end of May right after my recital party and into June. Then I hold a Christmas camp in December.
Summer is a great time to hold camps or workshops. I have students that are gone all summer, they leave the country, they go visit their other parent that lives out of state, they go on vacation, participate in other summer activities, etc… By doing summer workshops, I am able to retain my income but allow them the freedom of having summer plans.
I started Christmas camps in December well over 10 years ago after being very frustrated at all the no shows that would happen that month. Music camps and workshops have solved many frustrations for me over the years and has become a win-win for both me and my piano families over the years.
3) Who should participate in the music camp or workshop?
Target audience– Are the camps going to be for your current students only or are you going to open them to others that aren’t in lessons? One of the workshops that I hold each summer is an intro to piano class. So my target audience is those on my waiting list and those who are inquiring for lessons.
Pre-requisites– While you are considering your camp topic and activities keep in mind if there is is certain pre-requisites for students in order for them to take that class. For example my lead sheet class that I did has a level 2 pre-requisite. I want them to already be familiar with basic chord structure and so on before they take this class. But my rhythm class does not have a pre-requisite so anyone can sign up, including siblings, friends of students, etc…
Mixed/ages– My camps/workshops typically have mixed ages/levels in a group. Pre-requisites determine a lot of what ages end up in the classes, but when there are not pre-requisites I can have a variety of ages in one group. It has never been a problem to do this. Matter of fact, it’s been helpful to have the older students assist the younger students if needed.
For some camps it may be helpful to have an assistant depending on the size and dynamic of your group. For example one of my intro to piano classes had 3 brothers all a year a part in age. At the time, I hadn’t yet worked with them yet, but after meeting them realized that I will need my daughter to help assist me in this particular session so we can keep the class controlled because I predict that if I’m not on top of it at all times, they might lose focus. It ended up being a good decision. So always be prepared or have a back up plan. And always plan for more activities then you think you will need.