Now that you’re two months into the school year with your elementary strings program, there are three goals you can strive to address:
1. What are we doing this for?
- Having a sense of purpose is critical to your program’s survival. It’s more than the notes!
- At this point in the calendar, you should know where and when your performance will take place. Don’t have enough opportunities? Try nursing homes and retirement centers.
- Don’t forget to offer classroom concerts to teachers in your schools (keep them short and informative with you doing the bulk of the playing and your new students watching you demonstrate. Have your new students perform one simple tune while demonstrating “Rest Position” and good playing posture. Tell the non-performers and their teacher what goals your students are working toward, including the Holiday Concert.
- By now, you’ve had at least two parent meetings to inform your “partners” about where you’re going with your Strings program and how they can help their kids get there.
- Hand-out schedules of lessons each month to students, teachers, and parents
- Ask for parent volunteers for fundraising events
- Remind the parents to encourage their kids to practice. It is essential to the success of the orchestra
2. The Big Gig
- Your first Holiday Concert is coming up!
- Have your students create concert invitations for their parents. Take 10 minutes from your lesson time to provide paper and markers for invitations that the students create
- Jingle Bells is an excellent choice to perform during the holiday concert. “Chunk it “ by organizing it in four lines, with Line One and Line Three taught first. They’re the same! Then, Lines Two and Four have slight variations at the end of each line. Small “chunks” are easier to remember
- Teach your students to show appreciation for applause: teach them to bow.
3. Love Day
- Look beyond the Holiday Concert and tell your students that their excellent performance at the Holiday Concert qualifies them for the February 14th Love Day Induction Ceremony. Keep this Induction Ceremony a secret for the moment- don’t overwhelm them with too many challenges, but let them know Feb 14th is a Really Big deal!
Coming Next Month: Preparing for the February 14th Induction Ceremony called Arch of Bows!
About the Author
Ward Dilmore is a recently retired music teacher from Wilmington High School, MA where he grew his string orchestra from 12 students to over 450, in large part due to his incorporation of foreign travel into the program. Ward initially traveled with other companies, but once he found Encore, he never looked back. He has taken his ‘Strings Attached’ orchestra overseas with Encore 7 times, in total taking over 1,200 students abroad during his years at Wilmington.More Content by Ward Dilmore