What type of lesson plans can you use as a music teacher? How did you get started with this stuff if you’ve never planned your lessons before? I’ll help you with all that and more in this show.
- Assigning in Advance: Piano Homework and lesson plan all-in-one
- 3 Useful Stylesof Lesson Plans for Piano Teachers
- Simultaneous Learning by Paul Harris
- Curriculum Kickoff: 5 day lesson planning challenge
- 40 Wk But-the-pieces-plan: Piano Powerbooster Plan
- VMT031: What is a Music Teaching Curriculum
- VMT032: How to Find Your Musis Teaching Curriculum
Click on any word to jump to that point in the audio. 🙂
Vibrant vibrant vibrant music teaching proven and practical tips strategies than ideas for music teachers.
This is episode 33 of the vibrant music teaching podcast. I’m Nicola Cantan and in this show we’re talking about lesson planning for music teachers.
Welcome beautiful teachers for the last couple of weeks we’ve been talking about curriculum how to set your curriculum for your studio how to find what you want your students to know and to achieve and be able to play in a broad sense. Today we’re going to get down to the nitty gritty down into the lesson planning weeds. Before we do that I just want to make sure that you have set your curriculum because lesson planning really means nothing if there’s no purpose behind it. You can plan a lesson as you go but I believe you’ll always end up feeling a bit flustered a bit like you don’t know what you should do and what you shouldn’t do. If you haven’t stepped back and set your curriculum or your goals or your intentions whatever you want to call it if you haven’t looked at the big picture then working through lesson plan after lesson plan starts to feel disjointed and like you don’t know where you’re going. So I want to encourage you to go back to the episode from last week and the week before all about setting your music teaching curriculum. This is episode 33. So that would be 32 and 31. And you can always get to the show notes for these episodes by the way by going to vibrant music teaching dot com and the episode number. So for example vibrant music teaching dot com slash 3 3 would be today’s show Note 3 2 would be last week and last week we talked about two different methods of setting your curriculum the goals method and the fill in the gaps method.
If you listened last week and didn’t do one of those exercises I really recommend that you give it a go. Set aside an hour or so with a big cup of coffee and maybe even some sweet treats or maybe a glass of wine and just think about what you want to achieve for your students what you want to do in your studio those two different ways of working through it will give you a great starting point. And if you’re interested in more on lesson planning by the way today if you’re listening to this podcast as it goes live then today and tomorrow are the last two days of the curriculum. Kickoff is just two days left. You will be able to catch the replays of the first three days. If you sign up so you’ll need to sign up for that fairly sharpish at vibrant music teaching.com/kickoff. OK but let’s assume you have set your curriculum. You know where your students are going and how you want them to get there and at what pace. Well then you need to think about actually week to week. What are we going to do. What is the lesson going to involve. Some things are given and some things aren’t. If you’re working through a particular method book generally part of the lesson will be sort of planned out for you in a sense. But a really great teacher thinks about what’s coming up and what we’re doing at the moment thinks about the big picture and plans extra activities or reinforcement or just little ways to pre-empt things in micro little comments you make it can make a massive difference.
So let’s go through a few different ways that you might like to start lesson planning because I know I know but this can seem like something that’s not practical for music teachers and it can also just be something that’s hard to fit into our weeks right. So don’t make it some big detailed strategy that you would hand into a college professor if you were taking a course on pedagogy. If you make them that detail if you do too much it will be unsustainable. I want to give you four different ways that I like for lesson planning that maybe you can try out if there’s some of these ideas that you haven’t tried before try them. If you’ve tried them before and they kind of worked but weren’t quite right tweak them the first way is to do time based lesson plans. So what I mean by this is you actually lay out the in five minute increments is my favorite way to do it the actual time you’ll spend in the lesson. So 1:00 p.m. five past one ten past one etc. for the duration. So you have these five minute blocks. I like to do this in a Google Sheet or in excel so you naturally have those blocks laid out for you but you can do it on paper if you prefer. If you’re doing a time based lesson plan you’re going to want to fill in those blocks where the what’s going to happen and be realistic. It is impossible to learn three new pieces in five minutes.
It won’t happen. So there’s no point putting that in there. I prefer I have done time based lesson plans for one on one lessons. And I do think it’s a useful process to go through so definitely try it for a period. I don’t think it’s sustainable in the long run because I think it’s too detailed. What I do still like timeless based lesson plans for though is group lessons. This is still how I structure my group workshop because otherwise it’s very hard for me to get a sense of 90 minutes. That’s quite a long time. And I need to change activities pretty pretty often actually in a group setting because I need to keep everyone’s attention and quite quickly. I’m sorry. I will give a caveat here. This wouldn’t be as true if you are teaching leveled groups like if you have all late beginner students in a group who are all age 9. That’ll be different. I’m talking about my group lessons that I do where I allow multiple levels of students to come along and I find I need to change activities quite quickly and plan for that so that when an activity gets boring for one student because they’re too far ahead and one student because they’re too far behind it we’ve already changed too it doesn’t get to that stage where it’s boring but that can happen in and when you’ve a wide span of ages and levels anyway. So that’s why one of the reasons why I like Time based lesson plans for group lessons.
The other reason is they’re simple to glance at in a group lesson I have very little time in any lesson I’m very little time for reading but in a group lesson especially I need to be able to just glance at it and go oh yeah that was the plan and I really need to be on the ball when I’m running these workshops. So I like that it’s laid out and I actually lay it out with the times as I said. So 1:00 p.m. or whatever time it starts to I can click. granted it on my watch and know where I know whether I need to stretch something out or cut it down or move on and I would just have simple notes beside each of those about what we’re doing. So it might just say boom whackers when each. Something like that. It might be very vague if you were to look at it but that’s my at glance kind of lesson plan for a group workshop and then I would have more detailed plans or it would be in another it would be in the notes for another activity I have or whatever that I know what it is and I can’t go over that. But I have that at a glance plan for during the actual workshop.
So that’s one way to do it.
Like I say more useful for me for workshops still useful though as an exercise to do to figure out where you are spending your lesson time. And this reminds me of running a business in general right and planning your own time. It’s super useful to go through and see how you’re spending your time whether it’s in a lesson or in your day in general but you wouldn’t want to be doing it each and every week the next way to do it is using categories.
This is a way. Tim Tom actually advocates in his. He calls it the three keys to a comprehensive lesson plan. And I’ve done something similar in the past as well where I pick broad categories or topics that I want to cover each and every week. And then I decide what we’re doing under those headings. So for example I decide that for this student every week we want to do some improv every week we want to do some note reading work every week. We want to do whatever site reading doesn’t matter. You make your categories and then each week you decide under the so I know I’ve hit all of these sub topics right and working this way does help you to feel especially if you feel like things just get away from you and like you don’t know how to fit all of this stuff in. You need to set out these categories so that you can prioritize. I want to fit in these specific things and then you can cut it down by the way. So we’re talking about prioritizing doesn’t count as a priority. If you include everything so it really should like term uses three things I’d say three or four is a max you can have for these categories. And once you have something in each of those categories you feel like you’ve given them a more well-rounded education like you’re covering enough topics says one more way to do it. So far we’ve covered time based and category based. The next way to do it would be to do some kind of a mind map or you know like the bubbles. If you’re not heard of a minor I’m sure most people have. But where you draw like a circle in the middle and then you draw branches off from that.
Okay. And I think this has a lot to do with what Paul Harris talks about in his simultaneous learning approach. So Paul Harris is a wonderful teacher and writer from the UK. If you’re not familiar with him and he advocates simultaneous learning meaning that everything comes together it’s not about scales being in one box and pieces being another and theory being in another it should all be connected all of the time. This is not easy to plan. Not gonna lie and tell you that it is. And if you listen to Paul Harris talk about it. I don’t think he ever says that it’s easy but it is great teaching. If you can plan everything to link up together so that you think about what he says coming up for your student and you take out that scale and that rhythm element and you do things with those you work from the material and it all connects together. I think that’s a great way to go and a mind map is what makes this the most accessible to me. So you start with the thing you want to teach. It could be something from a piece. It could be just that you feel your student should be better with Sammy quavers whatever you put that in the center and then you look at different ways sort of related to the categories different ways you can hover that element in all the different parts of your lesson. So that’s one way the last way I’m going to share with you had three so far as a time based category based and mind maps or simultaneous learning the last way I suggest I really suggest everyone try this.
This is the way I work through my lessons week to week. Now I have longer term plans I have goals I have parent update reports that set out those kinds of goals and talk in a more general way plan in a more general way. But week to week what I do is I assign in advance and I have a blog post about this so I’ll link to it in the show notes. Again there are vibrant music teaching dot com slash 33. I have a blog post about this about how I do this assigning it advanced process so what I do is I write write out the assignment sheet in advance is exactly what it sounds like. I create all of my students assignment sheets at the start of the week for the next week. I write them on the computer right by hand. I like doing them the reader because I also have a copy then and I print them out and that’s ready to go into my students practice folder so I might write out the pieces they’re going to be doing the scales and whatever else whatever game I’m assigning to them or theory pages or improv activities or arrangement composition whatever is going to be assigned to them for that week goes on that sheet. So that’s step one is I write out what they’re gonna be doing and I write notes based on my experience with those pieces or with that student or both obviously. So you know pending on the student beside a certain piece I might write.
Remember the key signature is G Major so all after sharp remember this remember that work in this way I might give them practice tips stuff like that. Just a couple of sentences and there’s plenty of space there as well so that if I want to write more about that piece I can. I just scribble on it during the lesson but I have a starting point and it saves me a ton of time during the lesson when I can focus more thoroughly on my student in front of me rather than on taking notes which I found I was it would distract me a lot when I was working with just a notebook that doesn’t really distract me anymore and it’s easier for them to read the typed stuff than my writing and it was made to a lesson plan so I don’t consider that my lesson plan. There’s more to it than that but laying that out helps me think forward to the lesson. Think about what we’re gonna be doing and what I want to teach them and then I’ll simply write on a post it.
What other activities I want to do during that lesson to cover that if I feel I need help remembering it. But it helped me think it through helps me planet and all the body lessons stuff the stuff I do with two students together in their overlapping time that also comes from what they’re both both working on as well as from my overall curriculum and what I want them to have covered at that stage of their studies.
So that’s sort of for systems to get you started. I’ve been going through a lot more of this type of stuff in the curriculum kickoff as our five day lesson planning challenge. And as I say if you’re listening to us live you can get in right now active vibrant music teaching dot.com slash kickoff and get the replays and all of that stuff.
The main thing I want to leave you with in terms of lesson plans though is to do something I know I know we can rock up to lessons and wing it. And believe me I’ve done it. You can just arrive and say Where were you last week Okay up we go. Not even know where to head in the method book and you’ll be basically fine. But will it be good. Will it take your student where they want to go. Kind of ish right. It won’t be amazing and it won’t make you feel fulfilled as a teacher just a little bit of planning got a huge way. Really it does. It doesn’t have to be a massive undertaking. Me making my assignment sheets in advance that takes maybe an hour for all 35 of my students maybe two if I to do it so extra week research. And that’s totally worth it to me. So I want you to do something. That’s what I want you to take away. Try one of those ideas try your own idea try whatever you like but do something and it doesn’t matter if you throw it out the window during the lesson it still will have been valuable because it will have helped you think through your goals for that student what you want to do with them and how you want to teach them and the type of teacher you want to be as grandiose as that sounds.
So I hope this episode inspires you to give some kind of lesson planning a go. Next week I’m going to share a lesson plan sample from the piano power booster so I’m gonna share an actual lesson with you from the course which is inside the vibrant music teaching site so that you can take it with you. On the Go and get a taste of what it’s all about. If you want to jump right into the full course though you can do that as a member in the video library or if you’re not a member. You just sign up VMT dot ninja and you can jump into that chorus and get access to that fully laid out one year curriculum for piano students. That’s it for this week. I hope you enjoyed this episode of the vibrant music teaching podcast and I’ll catch you again in episode 34. If you want access to tons of fantastic thought out pedagogical games improvisation activities
And creative and inspiring courses you need to join vibrant music teaching you can become a member and get full access to the whole site for just nineteen ninety five per month. Today if you go to the empty dot ninja and sign up.
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