Keeping Students Musically Active during Summer Break
By NAfME Member Jennifer Hibbard
We’ve reached that point in the year where students and teachers alike are counting down the days till summer break. However, before you put your toes in the sand gear up for another summer workshop, consider the following ideas for keeping your students musically active during those short, summer months.
Provide students with a list of free summer concerts in the area. You can also direct them to www.eventful.com, which is a website specializing in finding events in your area. They have a wide variety of search options, including “Family”, “Concerts”, and “Performing Arts.”
As you look for ways to boost your band, orchestra, or choir feeder program, consider bringing in local private instructors who will give a master class on the importance of maintaining a strong embouchure and/or vocal health. In addition, they can provide details on how your students can take advantage of private or group lessons in the area. Request funding from DonorsChoose.org for the students who need financial assistance for summer lessons, or ask your education organization if they would be willing to provide help.
Plan a make and take workshop, in which students craft a homemade instrument. It could be as simple as making a shaker out of a plastic egg and beads or creating a guitar with cardboard and rubber bands. Each session can be tailored to the age group and is a great opportunity for parents to partake in the musical action. Try teaming up with your art teacher to craft an item that combines music and art, such as crafting an origami piano. Approach local business owners to request donations for supplies and materials.
Encourage students to write and perform their own song, bucket-drumming piece, or stage musical for their family. Provide a checklist for them to complete to ensure that they experience all aspects of musical production, such as creating concert flyers, performing audio checks, and selecting appropriate repertoire. Older students or those seeking an extra challenge can apply to music writing contests, starting with the NAfME Electronic Music Composition Contest.
Write down a list of your performing group’s favorite pieces. Then, organize an informal concert (jam session) around their chosen repertoire. Choose the local park or other familiar community setting as your venue. Include a specific time during the session for students to showcase their budding talents with ukuleles, guitars, and other non-traditional concert instruments. Invite your colleagues, administration, school board and community members to join in the fun by dusting off their old instruments from high school and playing along. The students will jump at a chance to play their most-loved pieces, and the informal concert setting will allow them to revel in the music without any added pressure. Plus, it will give your graduating members a joyous and memorable send-off.
Some zoos and theme parks offer deals in which music groups can perform at the gate in exchange for a reduced ticket price or free entrance into the park. It’s a great opportunity to keep students playing in the summer and may be a rare opportunity for students whose families can’t afford regularly priced tickets. If your students are active on social media (and they probably are), encourage them to use a unique musical hashtag when tweeting or instagramming their experience in the park. For many students, this is as close to a scrapbook or photo album as they’ll ever get. Hopefully, you won’t have to remind them that the sharp sign in their music is most definitely not a hashtag!
About the author:
NAfME member Jennifer Hibbard is teacher-author and blogger at The Yellow Brick Road, where she designs and produces music education resources with an emphasis on music literacy. Mrs. Hibbard holds a Bachelor of music education degree, K-12 general, vocal, and instrumental music and a Master of education degree in curriculum and instruction. She has seven years of teaching experience with K-4th grade general and vocal music, 7-12th grade instrumental music, and private lessons. Her membership with professional organizations includes the National Association for Music Education, the National Education Association, and the Indiana Music Educators Association.
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