Monday Mailbag – Scheduling Breaks

I’d love to hear how you “schedule” your year. I’m teaching through the Christmas holidays. Always have. But now that I’m in it I sure would love a break to spend more time with my own children.  In the summer (June, July, August) I teach every week as well unless I am out of town, and then I have a substitute teacher here in my place. But I’d sure like a break myself…

I personally think it is really important for both the students and myself to have periodic breaks. This gives all of us the opportunity to get refreshed, just play for fun, and re-evaluate goals for ongoing study. What I do is publish a studio calendar at the beginning of the school year indicating any weeks that I will not be teaching. This includes a week off at Thanksgiving, two weeks off at Christmas, two weeks off for spring break, and often an additional week off in the fall and/or spring for a family vacation.

In the summer, I give families the option of taking off, continuing lessons in June and/or July, and participating in piano camps in July. Then I take off the month of August for traveling, planning, and putting together the next year’s practice incentive theme.

This scheduling system has worked really well for me for several years. And honestly, the time off doesn’t seem to negatively affect any of us to a great extent. Playing an instrument is something that should integrate into everyday life, with learning going on constantly as we learn new pieces, prepare for special occasions, etc. I try to encourage my students to learn new things and enjoy playing on their own. Obviously, the further along students get in their piano studies, the more they feel confident doing this, but even young ones who are equipped with the right techniques and given the right materials can make progress on their own.

I know there are lots of other scheduling approaches, so feel free to share! What has worked best for you and your students?

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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