Facing the drop
It’s every teacher’s nightmare: students disappear in droves over the summer as people go on vacation, send their kids to camps, and seek a more flexible schedule. Practicing goes down, and kids forget all the progress that they made during the school year.
Declining summer attendance is also a major cause of drop in teachers’ income. What to do about this problem?
A number of years ago I realized that I had enough material from my group classes to run a summer camp. I set up a two-hour “half day” camp, from Monday to Thursday for one week in August. It was exactly what parents were looking for and in an affordable price range. Not only was it a fun and engaging way for students to continue summer learning, it provided the studio with an income boost when there is traditionally a decline.
Camp resembles group classes with games, repertoire, and special technique development. With the extra time, I can expand into more of each area and add music theory and improvisation work.
This year's theme was “invention.” Students worked on basic note writing and inventing patterns on their instrument. As a class we composed an ABA song form, which I performed for them at the final concert.
Each year the camp grows and evolves; the key is to start small and simple, trusting that your experience teaching group classes will translate to a memorable experience for the kids.
7 Reasons to Start a Camp
Here are seven reasons why you should consider starting your own camp:
Boost income - parents are looking for summer camps and activities for their kids; this is a valuable thing to offer and people will be happy to pay you for it if done well
Manage summer schedules - it takes pressure of the rest of the summer -- for you and for your students -- if some of your teaching hours are done in a large group setting
Diversify learning - Student feedback indicated strong positive feeling about learning other things besides their main instrument. These enrichment times are meaningful to kids and give them a sense of the wider world in music.
Collaboration with other professionals - guest teachers can add value to your camp. This year’s guest topics included conducting, composing, singing, and clarinet.
Challenge the advanced students - By offering an "Ensemble Class" extension hour to the main camp, you can give time for more advanced students to be in a trio or quartet, and use their experience at reading music to challenge themselves.
Small group attention - students can get personalized attention by keeping the camp numbers small, and as the camp grows continuing to provide a small teacher-to-student ratio.
Community building - many students don’t really know each other, even though they are in the same studio, attend group class, and play in recitals together. Camp is a great way to break down those barriers with small group games and partner activities.
If a camp is something you are thinking about adding to your studio, be sure to sign up for the newsletter so you can be a part of an upcoming teacher mastermind.