Monday Mailbag – More About Planning Piano Camps

I’ve received several other great questions that I will be addressing soon, but since Piano Camps seem to be an item of great interest and many teachers are probably gearing up for summer sessions right now, I decided to post a few more questions I’ve received about Piano Camps in response to last week’s Monday Mailbag post:

1. How do you plan before you know which students will be coming?
Short answer: I don’t. 🙂 Throughout the year, I collect ideas, bookmark resources in a Piano Camp Ideas folder, and think through possibilities, but I wait until after I know which students are planning to participate to do the detail work of planning specific goals and activities.

2. Have you done a parent survey?
Yes. I’ve uploaded a copy of the Summer Survey I e-mailed to my families this year so you can see how I formatted it. Usually I send these out in mid-April, but this year I waited until the beginning of May and sent them with the Year-End Questionnaires. I am conducting Year-End Evaluations this week, so parents will be attending the lesson with their children, and we’ll discuss summer plans and scheduling at that time.

3. How much time in advance do you think parents need to know about it?
Since I’ve been doing summer piano camps for so many years now, I figured it was enough advance notice to send the info the beginning of this month. However, if you decide to offer piano camps for the first time, I would recommend putting the word out much sooner. The first year I offered piano camps, I had them fill out summer surveys and return them by the 1st of March so that I would have an idea of who was interested and whether it was worth it to put in the time to start planning. Here is a sample of the wording I used that first year:

I am considering offering week-long piano camps in July. Students would be placed in groups according to level and would attend two hours each day for one week. We would focus intensely on developing practical skills while having fun and gaining valuable performance experience. If you could complete this short survey and return it to me by March 1, I would really appreciate it.

4. How do you determine what to charge?
I’ve personally found that the easiest approach is to just charge the same amount as my regular monthly lesson fee for 45-minute weekly lessons. The parents are already used to paying this amount, so it works well since most families opt to participate in a week-long piano camp instead of private lessons for one month.

5. Would you do it with only a few participants?
I’ve done variations of a piano camp in previous years that I called “Partner Lessons.” This was a great chance to work on duet literature and play fun two-person games. So, if you’re creative in the approach, I’d say it can work with as few as two students. I probably wouldn’t make it as extensive or elaborate as I do for a regular piano camp with 6-8 students, though. It’s definitely worth considering how much time you are willing and able to invest for the end result. Piano Camps do require a lot more planning up front, but they are so much fun for me and the students that I think it is well worth it!

Remember, if you have a question you’d like to contribute to next week’s Monday Mailbag, leave it in the comments below or send me an e-mail sometime this week with Monday Mailbag in the subject line!

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