Summer Break-Summer is a marvelous time for students and teachers alike. The sun is warm, fun is in the air, and a much-needed break to recharge comes to fruition. Some of us make huge plans to make sure every moment counts whereas others take it one day at a time. And why not? You deserve it!
Before Going on Summer Break
Before you mentally and physically check-out be sure to set yourself up for a successful beginning of the year for you and your students by completing these “10 Tasks Music Directors Should Do Before Going on Summer Break.
- Get Your Students Excited About Summer Camp
- Promote Summer Lessons
- Get Students Connected
- Share Ideas on How to Stay Musically Active Over the Summer
- Provide Internet Resources
- Prepare Your Calendar for Next Year
- Recognize Your Support Staff and Volunteers
- Update Inventory
- Communicate with Your Administration
- Reflect on Your Previous Year
1. Get Your Students Excited About Summer Camp
No matter what sort of music program you run, every child can benefit from being part of a summer music program. Around the world band, choir, guitar and chorus programs are bringing positive enrichment activities to the youth. It is important to communicate:
- Launch Days
- Dress Code
- Special activities
2. Promote Summer Lessons
Students now have additional time to master their craft on their own time. Students can gain valuable skills from professionals in the field, music stores, or even school personnel. Music programs can also ease the burden of financial strain by paying for student lessons or by supplementing them.
3. Get Students Connected
Who knows what is going to happen over the course of the summer. So, get your kids connected on social media with your program’s webpage, Facebook, Twitter or some other social platform. Be sure to get emails, phone numbers and any bit of information that would help enhance your student’s mobility. Not only does this help keep your program connected and well-informed but it provides an outlet to communicate unexpected and exciting opportunities that may arise over the summer. Thus helping strengthen the retention and activity of your music program.
4. Share Ideas on How to Stay Musically Active Over the Summer
Generally, our students are well-intentioned individuals that enjoy being in music programs. M0st want to return to school, in the fall, as stronger musicians. Unfortunately, they don’t have the experience or know-how to make this materialize. As a teacher, you have the experience and guiding power to suggest ways in which your students can be practicing performers. Possibilities include:
- Setting regular/ timed practice sessions
- Start their own music ensemble
- Participate in a summer symposium
- Join a community band, choir or orchestra
- Volunteer to perform in a church
- Gig in your community
- Record yourself and broadcast it on SoundCloud or some other social media (who knows you might get “discovered”)
5. Provide Internet Resources
Our students have all grown-up in an age where there has always been the internet. Why not use this resource to your benefit. Suggested sites that students can use include:
- Print off free sheet music (http://imslp.org/) or blank sheet music (www.blanksheetmusic.net)
- Free Online Metronome (https://www.metronomeonline.com)
- Music Games (Various Options)
6. Prepare Your Calendar for Next Year
It’s time to get big picture activities set. This would include concerts, fundraisers, trips, and rehearsals. This would also include any type of professional development, staff training or student-centered activities. I try to use scheduling software that I can collaborate with when deciding dates for my events such as Google calendar or Outlook.
7. Recognize Your Support Staff and Volunteers
Running an active program requires a large sum of man (woman) hours. It would be unwise to tackle all of these necessary tasks on your own so I would recommend delegating certain tasks to trusted individuals. These can be paid staff members, colleagues, parents, or students. Take a moment to recognize these individuals because a simple “Thank You” goes a long way.
8. Update Inventory
This can be a tedious job but someone has to do it! Checking in instruments, uniforms and sending out anything that needs to be repaired or cleaned is a time-consuming task at the end of the year. My recommendation is to spread out this task so it doesn’t drain your life-force. If you have trusted helpers, don’t be afraid to ask for help. For those comfortable with tech, try using software like Charms Office Assistant.
9. Communicate with Your Administration
Summer break- Most directors strive for a well organized and optimized plan when entering a new school year. Your administration “needs” to be on the same page with you if you are to avoid bumps in the road throughout the upcoming year. Your principal wants you to be successful however, he also wants that from every program in the school. That means that we, as music directors, need to play nice with others and be somewhat flexible. I always try to make it a point to get to know the other coaches, directors, and club advisors so that there is a clear and easy line of communication. Remember administrators want you to be the problem solver, not the problem creator.
10. Reflect on Your Previous Year
Self-reflection is a powerful tool for program improvement if you do it in a timely manner. I have yet to have the “ULTIMATE” perfect year where every expectation was met in every facet of my job. Since our job is always changing in one way or another, we need to change with it.
I make it a point to keep a simple “what went well” and “what could be better” list. I then ask myself is there anything I should remove from my list of activities or curriculum. Secondly, I evaluate the direction my music program is going in. I make sure I brainstorm what I can do to enhance what is already taking place.
Finally, I try to do something new each year to keep things fresh. I consider this aspect of my work carefully because sometimes if you start something you may not be able to go back to how it was before. This is especially true because by the nature of our job we give 110% of ourselves to our programs and if an administrator likes the direction your program is going in, he or she will insist it continues.
I hope everyone has a relaxing summer break and recharges for an exciting upcoming year of music making!