I have met so many wonderful teachers during Music Mind Games Teacher Training workshops and during institute teaching. I love how eager teachers are to get started using Music Mind Games with their students! With that motivation comes many questions on the best way to get started. In this blog post I’m going to respond to some of the most common questions that may be helpful to anyone looking to get their students in the Music Mind Games groove. The most common questions I get are:
- How do I set up Music Mind Games classes?
- How often should they meet?
- How long is each class?
- How many classes should be in a semester?
- How many students should be in each class?
- How should I group them? By age? ability? instrument?
- What kind of space works best?
- How can I promote my classes?
- What materials do I need?
- Do students all need to have their own materials?
Responses to these questions are unique to the teacher, student needs, and class environment, since Music Mind Games can be incorporated into an endless variety of teaching situations with a wide range in class size, age, ability and environment. My suggestions below are out of my own personal teaching experiences, and feedback I’ve heard from Michiko, other trainers and experienced teachers.
For the purposes of this blog let’s define “classes” as a series of meetings dedicated to Music Mind Games, separate from any group class or other music activities.
How often can your classes meet?
Weekly classes will yield the best results. Twice a month is of value but progress will happen at a slower pace. Less than twice a month will end of being more exploratory, and not conducive for mastery of material or building skills, however it can be fun and low-maintenance way to get students and families curious about literacy and about Music Mind Games.
How many classes in a semester? Anywhere from six to twelve sessions is my recommendation. I have found that less than six classes only allows for a taste of Music Mind Games. If you divide the school year in half, and meet each week, you should have ten to twelve classes. In each class, you will want to review, and practice concepts before presenting something totally new. So if you only have 6 sessions, I would recommend focusing on one or two subject areas only in order to make progress with that material. I do my classes by semesters even if we meet year round. This allows me to evaluate students and re-group if needed based on age, instrument, or ability.
How do I fit Music Mind Games classes into my teaching schedule?
Consider sandwiching group classes with Music Mind Games classes with a younger class before group and an older class after group.
Schedule a Music Mind Games class between lessons of students you would group together. Parents appreciate when lessons and classes are on the same day.
Alternate Music Mind Games classes with group classes and teach them on your off weeks. This will allow you to group students appropriately and hold as many classes as needed to fit their learning needs.
How long should classes be?
I’ve found that 45 minutes is the most common length for classes. I recommend 45 minutes as the minimum. It is enough to comfortably teach, review and present new material. Less than 45 feels rushed and makes it challenging to fit everything in and properly assess students. Younger students ages 3-5 may not always be able to last the entirety of the class, but you can fill the time with parents, playing and coaching them, which can be beneficial for home practice. You could also take turns with students individually or a few at a time. Older students (10 and up) can usually work 50-60 minutes without losing focus.
How should I group students?
The best way to group students who are new to Music Mind Games is by age, within 2 years apart. (4-6, 6-8, 9-11, 12 and up). At first it is not necessary to group by like instruments, and age is more important.
After a year or so, and when you are ready to focus on staff notation in relation to the instruments I do recommend you place them again by age and also with like instrument families. The sequence I teach for strings is different than I teach for piano. There are also string games I would not use when teaching piano students.
In order to help with flexible grouping, include all possible class times on your registration form. Ask families to check any or all times they are available for class. When finalizing classes, you will have the flexibility to place students in the classes best suited for them.
What students do I teach?
Of course you will teach your own students and even make it a required class in your studio. You may also want to consider reaching out to other studio teachers in your area. You may be surprised how many will promote your classes and encourage students to register! Reaching out to local schools is also a good idea.
Where do I teach?
I recommend the following for a nicer environment: carpet, ample parking, handicap accessibility, natural light, restroom, piano and/or enough space for student instruments
How many students should be in each class?
Six to 8 students per class is great! However, don’t cancel a class just because it only has two students! Those classes can be amazing teaching and learning time for you and your students! So aim for six, be flexible for up to eight or more depending on your space, comfort level, parent support, and materials.
How do I promote my classes?
If you are teaching your own students you can advertise in lessons, group classes, recitals, on your website, and via email. If you have time in your schedule for more classes and room for more students, I encourage you to reach out to other studio teachers in the area or your local music organizations. It’s a great opportunity for community building and many teachers will be happy their students are receiving theory training outside of lessons. Having a flier to share with a registration link or form is best. You can share this with teachers and drop off at local music stores. You may want to consider placing an add in a local school, church or community newsflier. This can reach to a broader audience. Homeschool associations are also a good idea.
What materials do I need for my classes?
- At first, a Panda Combined Pack, and a few sets of the following:
- Alphabet cards, blue jello cards, rhythm playing cards, do re mi cards, 1 symbols cards set 1, 1 notes and rests,
- Later on, add blue jello set 2, grand staff cards, tone blocks, symbols set 2, tempos
- See my blog post on Teacher Toys for fun extras!
Do students need to purchase materials?
It is best if students have their own materials at home for practice but it can be a large investment for families on top of everything else.
- For new beginners I recommend: Blue Jello cards, Music Alphabet Cards, Do Re Mi Cards, a Staff slate with magic notes.
- Later on: rhythm playing cards, grand staff cards, notes and rests cards.
- Consider purchasing a staff slate pack of 12 and then selling individually to families with a tube of magic notes.
- Consider adding one or two items a year as part of your studio or materials fee.
- Some of these smaller items make great stocking stuffers!
Here is link to a sample Class Information Page. Student Class Information
Here is a link to a Registration form I’ve used: Student Registration
In summary, once I know when I can teach, where I can teach, and how long the classes will be, I include all times and information on a registration form and send it out to prospective families. Once you have registered students, you are ready to set class goals, select the best games to achieve them and get groovin!
How do you schedule or set up your classes?
Please share any great advice you may have for your fellow Music Mind Games teachers ????
Good Luck and Happy Teaching!
P.S. check out my Cornerstones (for Parents?) blog post you may want to include with your welcome materials for your classes.