Summer Slump? Teach From The Beach!
One of the hardest things about being a private music teacher is the dreaded summer slump.
It happens to the best of us… we survive the cold/flu season (also known as “Winter”), school starts back up, things pick up in the spring, and we even survive the staggered every-school-zone-is-different Spring Break fiasco.
The spring recitals and concerts make new memories for everyone, students overcome their fears and challenges and level up, and suddenly it begins to dawn on teachers….
Summer is coming….
The Summer Slump doesn’t have to ruin your life, though. There’s a few ways to keep things steady, and it all comes down to planning. And now, with advances in educational technology, it’s even possible to teach… from the beach!
Here’s a simple 3-step process you can implement now, so that when your students go on vacation, you can go on vacation too… and they can still be learning and practicing.
Capture Your Lessons
All year long, every lesson has moments that are worth capturing. It might be a small detail on fingering worth writing down, an ear training concept worth recording, or an emphasis placed on a specific articulation or measure.
It’s possible to build up a very basic, but very comprehensive, library of off-the-shelf lesson plans. They can be ideas taken from all your lessons, all year round, captured on the fly, put on the shelf, bottled up and ready for use in a different season.
2. Get It All Organized
If you regularly capture audio along with any notes you have, PDF’s or printouts for them to take home, and instructions for how to practice, chances are you’ve got a lot of files bouncing around on your phone, tablet, and computer.
Organizing everything is key. Having a single platform to drop everything into, and assign specific lessons to specific students, changes the game. Now, they can just log in from anywhere and practice, play along, listen, review, read your notes, and get creative where appropriate.
3. Set Expectations
Now that you’ve got a system for capturing and organizing lesson materials that students can practice from anywhere, it’s important to let them know that even if they can’t show up in person, they will still get more lessons. From the parent’s perspective (read: “customer’s perspective”), this creates a lot of value that justifies continuing to pay you even when they go on vacation, miss the lesson, or call out sick.
The Principle of Reciprocity.
The truth is, they’re paying for more than a lesson time each week. They‘re paying for skills that you can help them gain in a lot of different ways. Coming up with new, creative ways of keeping them engaged between lessons opens up a whole new world of possibilities.
No piano on vacation? No problem. Do ear training and harmony and theory exercises.
Broken right arm? Sorry to hear that, Piper, but there’s good news! You don’t have to “take a break”… we can do left hand exercises for 6 weeks!
The Bottom Line
This reality has already hit office culture: it’s called “flextime”. People work from home, they work remotely, and they work in offices too.
What matters more than where they are working? The outcome, and the quality, of the work.
By giving students new lessons to work on whether or not they show up, you’re not just eliminating the need for makeup lessons. You’re doing more than removing the headache of credits from your life.
You’re setting the pace and establishing yourself as the trusted advisor and leader for their music education.
And by standing up for the value of your time, and backing it up with new lesson plans every week, it’s a no brainer for them to continue to pay you, and continue to practice, even when they go on vacation.
And with enough planning, you can go on vacation too…