Monday Mailbag – How to Help Students Progress During Teacher Leaves

I am due with my 3rd child in about a month and currently have 8 piano students. They are all in the Primer Bastien book, except 2, who are in level 1. As important as my piano students and their success is to me, my family comes first, so I have been thinking of taking a break for about a month to adjust to the new baby. I would love to get your input and advice on how to make this break time not hinder the progress of my students and what kinds of things to give my students to work on while I’m out. I welcome any suggestions and thank you in advance for your help.

Although I’ve never needed to take a maternity leave, I’ve taken breaks over the years ranging anywhere from a couple of weeks to three months (when I worked at a camp in another state for the whole summer). It is helpful to give students and their parents an idea of what they can do during the “off” time to keep learning. Here are a couple of suggestions:

  1. Purchase or recommend a specific book or two for each student with pieces easily accessible at their level.
  2. Give each student a handful of OWP Guides: http://musicmattersblog.com/2006/07/27/owp-guide/. Have them fill this out for each piece they learn on their own and bring them back.
  3. Give each student a list of Familiar Tunes: http://musicmattersblog.com/wp-files/familiar_tunes.pdf. Encourage them to figure out as many as they can by ear and check them off on the list as they go.
  4. Give each student a handful of YouTube Performance Evaluations: http://musicmattersblog.com/2010/09/23/youtube-performance-evaluation-free-worksheet/. They can fill these out as they listen to piano performances on YouTube.
  5. Encourage students to record themselves playing their own pieces and the listen and fill out a Personal Performance Evaluation for each one: http://musicmattersblog.com/2010/11/09/encouraging-students-to-listen-to-their-playing/.

I would love to hear suggestions from other teachers on this one! What sorts of things do you recommend to students and their parents that they can work on during time off?

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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