Each season of the year has its own magical moments and its own musical distractions. In the spring, many students are ready to be outside after months of being cooped up. Extra-Curricular activities also pick up during this time. Want to take action against distraction and dump the slump? Check out the tips below to help you “breeze” through spring music lessons and keep students excited and invested in learning their instrument.
Tip #1: Play Games!
Games are not just a fun change of pace – they are an educational tool and a great motivator. Games can transform the mundane into the amazing. (Just ask the guy who thought to put a basketball net on a laundry hamper.) As a teacher, bringing games to lessons doesn’t mean extra work – there are countless amazing music games and activities available to you (including our very own Note Quest Note Reading games). One of the simplest ways to game-ify a lesson is to take a few minutes to create a game with your student that they can then use on their own throughout the week. Having trouble staying consistent with practicing? Make a practicing game! Having trouble remembering dynamics? Make a Dynamics game! Any trouble spot is fair “game” for creating an activity (see what we did there?). Click here for a free “Create Your Own Game” template to get you started!
Tip #2: Use March Madness to Your Advantage
The March Madness bracket system is an iconic sports concept, and can be an exciting tool for your sports-minded students! One of the biggest reasons kids end up quitting music lessons is because instrument lessons are such a solo (a.k.a. lonely) activity. The lure of social sports activities is strongest in the spring! Sometimes all a student needs is some competition to spice things up and keep things interesting. Use this free "March Madness" printable to help your student compete against themselves using their greatest hits over a series of weeks, or if they need outside motivation, set up a friendly competition between students. At the end of the month, the best song wins a prize! Students will not only have another reason for consistent practice, they will feel a sense of accomplishment as they review their songs. Both things will help to keep them “in the game” until the end of the school year. (Yup, we did it again).
Tip #3: Find the Pot of Gold at the End of the Rainbow!
St. Patrick’s Day provides great inspiration for games, improvisation and songwriting! Using droning left hand fifths in dorian or mixolydian modes, music can be improvised or written about elves, shamrocks, leprechauns and so much more. As a bonus, add hand drums for flair (and rhythm practice)!
…And the tricky part: Have a talk about quitting lessons BEFORE it comes up.
Even the best students have slumps, and having moments of doubt or wanting to quit are totally normal. Acknowledging this fact is a huge RELIEF to students and parents. Often, they don’t want to say anything and instead let frustrations build up. By this time it is often too late to remedy the situation.
In all our years of teaching, we have never had a parent tell us they are glad they were allowed to quit lessons. Being unable to play an instrument themselves is one of the leading reasons parents sign their kids up in the first place. We are big advocates of having proactive conversations and consistent check-ins with parents and students to see what is working and what could improve. We have found that simply taking 5 minutes every couple of months to ask how things are going can reap huge rewards in the long term. Ultimately, it is up to the parents to decide if quitting is or isn’t an option, but good communication and engaging lessons can keep that option solidly in the “now why would I do that?” category.
Spring fever, spring slumps, sunshiny distractions – these are all completely normal parts of the learning process. With a little creativity on your part you can navigate through this season and help enhance your students’ love of music and learning along the way!
Now, for the more pressing question: who did you put your money on for March Madness? The perennial champion Fur Elise, or that spritely newcomer, “How Far I’ll Go?”
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