Every year the process looks slightly different, but in a nutshell there are some tried-and-true steps that seem to work for developing a practice incentive theme that will captivate students!
- In the spring, use year-end questionnaires to collect input on what they liked best and least about the theme, what things they’d like to focus on the next year, and specific theme ideas.
- Spend a couple months thinking and praying about what to do. Periodically pull out the student questionnaires and review them.
- When August rolls around, make arrangements to go to the home of a friend with a swimming pool. Make sure it’s someone who is stocked with a comfortable raft. Lay out on said raft for a couple of hours and contemplate all sorts of wild and crazy ideas that might inspire and motivate students.
- If you hit on an idea that seems like a keeper, quickly exit the pool, dry off, grab a pen and paper, and start scribbling furiously before the idea disappears. A home that also supplies lounge chairs is of primary consideration for this portion of the planning. 🙂
- Spend the next week letting the idea develop and ferment, jotting down additional thoughts as they come. Be prepared to do lots of scratching out, too!
- When formulating ideas, there are two sides – the objective side and the execution side. The objective side is the consideration of what you want the students to accomplish. This is primarily musical. The execution side is the imaginative, creative approach that will captivate the students and give them an exciting reason to work toward the established objectives. This is often non-musical.
- Once the objectives, execution, and title have been decided, start scouring iStockPhoto.com (get 10 free credits when you sign up through this link!) for the perfect image(s) to capture the theme!
- Start designing the cover. I always begin with the cover because it helps me set the mood and look for the whole theme. Once the cover is ready to go, I start working on the interior pages and all the other supporting documents and studio decorations.
It’s always so much fun to see the theme come together and to build the suspense until it is revealed at our September Surprise! I’ve had students (and parents!) asking me for months what the theme is, so I know they are “chomping at the bit” to find out. Which is also why I can’t post anything else here yet about the theme – I know there are sleuths in my studio who patrol this blog just waiting for me to slip up and give away the surprise… 🙂 Not happening! But I can hardly wait to tell you all about it and will do so as soon as I can!