VMT051: Music teaching studio events that build community


Does your studio have a community feeling? Do the students and parents feel like they belong to something? Listen in to get tips on great events to build community and keep students in your studio longer.

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Vibrant vibrant vibrant music teaching proven and practical tips strategies than ideas for music teachers.

This is Episode 51 of the vibrant music teaching podcast. I’m Nicola Cantan and today we’re talking about how to build community in your studio through events.

Welcome beautiful teachers. I first started thinking about this idea of your studio being a community through a podcast episode of On Tim toppings podcast the creative piano teaching podcast. This was way back. I’d say a couple of years ago now and it was with Laura cards one of the earlier episodes. I’ll leave a link in the show notes and vibrantmusicteaching.com/51 if you want to check that one out. But you talked about using group lessons throughout the year as a way to build community and her studio and I just loved her perspective on it being about building community about bringing her students together and having them there for more than just piano lessons right. So I’d like to talk to you about some ideas for building this community beyond just group lessons. That’s one way to do it. But first let’s talk about why this idea of community would even be important to you if it doesn’t jump out to you straight away. Why would you want to consider having this perspective of always trying to build a community within your studio. Well the first reason is that it leads to your students and your parents in your studio thinking of your participation in your studio as more than just a weekly visit at an extra curricular activity right. So if your parents think about this as just one of many and it probably will be one of many I’m not saying they should think about this as their only thing. I’m saying if they just think oh well I go over there and I drop my kid off and I wait for half an hour and then I take them home and that’s one of the things we do each week.

That’s fine. But it doesn’t make them very sticky. It’s not going to have a high likelihood that they’re going to stay in your studio long term. They might but it’s kind of leaving it up to chance. If you have a studio that feels like a community it’s one way to make you not be interchangeable with other music teachers right. You never want to be competing on price or even on location right that you’re just the closest one you want to be special. And there’s many ways to do that but your studio feeling like a community can go a huge way to achieving that goal. It can mean that your students see this same music as part of their identity and maybe the parents see themselves as piano parents as music paid parents rather than just seeing this as somewhere they drop their kid off for half an hour. It gives them a sense of belonging to something being part of something and it can also help them to feel more supported which will make them more successful if they feel like they’re part of something they’re part of a group that cares about what their child does with music that other parents are going through the same things they are and that they have other people to talk to about the issues that come up and about the successes too.

It means that they feel supported they’re in in a supportive environment that cares about them achieving what they want to achieve the students achieving what they want to achieve and the parents getting their kids valuable music education. So I hope you agree with me that this sense of community and belonging in your studio is important. I want to run through a whole heap of ideas for you to create this. Some of these you’ll already be doing and some you can consider adding in your own way. And I hope that this will also give you Sparks and new ideas for you that you might be able to train your studio. So the first way to foster a sense of community in your studio is to do regular concerts. This is one of the ones you’re probably doing. But if you use those concerts as a way to forge connections between your students and their parents it can go a whole way to helping you achieve their sense of community right. So make the most out of your concerts whatever types you do by having receptions afterwards by connecting parents literally introducing them to one another if they don’t know each other. You know I know what a lot of my events. There’ll be certain parents that know each other already and so they’ll stick in a clump and then other bands won’t know each other and maybe they’ll meet someone new but they might just stick to their family. You’re kind of the host in that situation.

So go up and say you know such and such have you met this person your kids both are in the same books don’t you love such and such a song. Right. Give them something to chat about and start to make those connections and relationships within your studio during those receptions or maybe you find other ways at concerts to bring students together such as them having playing duets or ensembles or doing complement cards at your recital so that students are basically writing notes about each other’s performances and giving each other praise. Connecting students in that way and helping them see that they’re in it together. They’re all part of a team. You can also do this of course at group workshops. As I mentioned the episode of The Creative piano teaching podcast is what Laura talked about was she did a group workshops a year and so that brought her families together often and students in the same age group came together. You know that’s basically almost every month. Right. So I do four group workshops myself. If you want to listen to more about group workshops you can find that in a previous episode of this podcast which I’ll link to in the show notes at vibrantmusicteaching.com/51. Some other ideas for events that you might try in your studio are things like a bring your buddy to lessons week so it doesn’t have to be that your making relationships within your studio. You can also bring the outside world into your studio as well.

So when your students get to bring a friend from school or from elsewhere from their neighborhood to piano lessons it helps to bridge those gaps so their friend knows what they’re doing in their lessons and knows about the games you play. And maybe I’ll even gain a new student if you’re after that. But even if you don’t it can help your student to feel more like they belong in your studio. If they can bring their friend along one week you could also do a parents week where you invite all the parents to come and sit in on lessons that week. It won’t be possible for every parent to do that of course depending on the demographics in your area and how many parents are working full time. Maybe they can’t spare that time but for the ones that can make full use of that opportunity. Don’t just have them sit in and observe if you’re having a special parents week involve them have them learn something that their child is currently learning have their child teach them something. Teach the parent a very simple ask tomato pattern that their child can improvise on top of or teach them a duet. If they play piano themselves play an instrument themselves have them involved find some way to bring them actively into the lesson. During your special parents week you could also use your studio to do a fundraiser. Maybe you do a practice-a-thon. Maybe you do a challenge to learn as many pieces as possible and each piece is worth a certain amount.

Perhaps you pledge a certain amount per piece or per minute of practice or per hour of practice maybe and you have parents that match that or students go around and fund raiser. Or maybe you do a piano-a-thon in a local area where you take out a digital piano or you play a local piano that happens to be there for a certain duration and you try to fundraise that way. Or you could do a composing project in your studio. We do a composing project every year and while that could be a solitary activity it actually never is because we always bring together all of those pieces in some way. So I’ve done a book where all the students pieces went into the book and it was printed and they had a copy of everyone’s put together. I’ve done a C.D. with everyone’s put together. I’ve done no thanks page where we publish them all of their recordings. You could also put together a YouTube playlist or find another way to bring those compositions together maybe do an exchange and have each student play another student’s piece. They could even play it for a recital so make the most out of those composing projects if you’re doing them and bringing students together making connections between them. You can find tons of composing projects which are linked to in the show notes of course on the colourful keys blog and in the vibrant music teaching library that you can use to get started with composing with your students.

Another way to create a sense of community in your studio is to have some kind of display in your studio space. I have a challenge board which is basically like a wall of fame where we have challenges for scales practice memorization technique a sight reading transposing and chords so students names. Oh and note Note naming that would every challenge as well as a second challenge. And students who achieve one of those challenges their name goes up on a little magnet. Since my board is magnetic whiteboard a metal whiteboard there is name goes up on that little magnet in that spot and then other students get to see oh you know this person achieved that challenge that I’m working on or who else is working on this one as well as I am or will I get there first. That kind of thing. So fun little bits of competition but also just a way for them to see the students who are have ahead of them and the students who are where they came from who are a little bit further behind. You could also try having secret messages passed between your students and the type of secret messages could fit into whatever theme you have going on. But let’s say you can’t do anything like I do in my studio where I have buddy lessons right. So I have my students getting together with one other student every week for part of their lesson time.

But if you can’t do that maybe you could have each student pass a message to the next student in your timetable. A little slip of paper where they write down something of your choosing. Maybe it’s just a word of encouragement. Maybe it’s a practice tip. Maybe it’s a nugget of music history that they’ve learned it could be endless. It could be a challenge to learn a particular scale whatever you think would fit in with your week. You could do this every week based on different themes or just every so often during the year. Give each student the opportunity to write a little message. You write it for them obviously if they’re younger and pass it on to the next student so they have those little connections. They’re not just ships passing right as one leaves and the other comes in these completely isolated experiences. They do have some connection to each other. OK so that’s my full list. I hope that some of these ideas will inspire you to build some community in your studio. And if you have new ideas based on what you heard today or you want to try at one of these things and you want to get some feedback on it then tell us about it. In the vibrant music studio teachers group on Facebook that’s a free group. It’s a wonderful supportive place to hang out. It’s a wonderful community in actual fact. And I would love to see you in there. So look up via music studio teachers on Facebook. If you’re not already a member.

And apply to join as long as your music teacher will let you in straight away. Got it. For this we go forth and build your communities. I’ll catch you on the next episode. Bye for now. If you want to be part of a wonderful supportive and driving music teaching community you can sign up to vibrant music teaching membership. at VMT.ninja to get training and support.

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