Another wonderful #MusEdChat! The topic this week was: How should teachers spend summer regarding preparation for next year?

Though I’m not a teacher yet, I find that my summers as a student usually resemble each other in that they were/are musically focused, while still having an unusual amount of free time. However, each summer was different regarding income just because of the varying jobs. Here are some things I’ve done in the past to occupy my summers in the most musical ways possible!

One of the best summers I had was after my freshman year of college. I had gotten three pit orchestra gigs for community theatre musicals in the area, as a guitarist and double bassist. It was great, and a lot of fun! (Mostly because the shows were some of my favorites!) I will say, if you are a bassist, these jobs are the best. Most bass parts for musicals are relatively the same, with a little 1 – 5 – 1- 5 over and over (with something exciting every now and then) and several measures rest. But really, you can’t go wrong with a pit orchestra job. It’s low stress, rehearsals and shows are usually at night so your days are free for other obligations, and it can be a lot of fun! The only negative is that with the current economy a lot of theaters aren’t hiring full pits and covering parts on keyboards instead. (So if you play the piano, you are set for life!)

I’ve been teaching private lessons for several years during the summer as well. I’ve always found the summer lesson students to be a lot of fun because they are usually trying the instrument out for the first time, so they WANT to learn which makes it fun for them AND for you! I mentioned in the chat tonight that teaching younger students was a new experience for me during the summers. I’m so used to teaching/directing students around my age…it’s such a different approach with little kids! They also say the funniest things…I think teaching little kids may be more fun for the teacher sometimes. But teaching private lessons is a great way to keep you on your feet! I always found myself trying out new methods with different students, because everyone is different! It’s always a great challenge!

During the summer I have a lot more time for coffee shop gigs and the like. I try to book as many as I can, both paid and unpaid, just for the exposure and honestly…just to play! I tend to have more time to write new songs and work out new covers, so I welcome any opportunity to share them. If you have musical friends, summer is a great time to jam too! A lot of my nights were spent hanging out with friends playing our instruments and singing…really, any opportunity to play music, either formal, informal, paid, unpaid, social, solitary…it’s worth your time!

Lastly, I am always thinking about the next semester during the school year, regarding new repertoire for my chamber choir, and writing and arrangements or compositions for them as well. Summer is a great time to plan and practice for a senior recital as well! I have found that summer is a much more creative time for me in my composing, songwriting, and project work. There is so much time to think and create.

I would have loved to participate in summer ensembles though. A summer choir would have been a dream come true, really. For teachers, I think it would be great to put together an ensemble of other music educators not only to keep their chops up but to continue having musical conversation. The more we surround ourselves with music and musical people we are bound to learn new things or ignite new interests and ideas.

Some favorite quotes of the night:

  • jimfrankel: All music ed programs should REQUIRE students to compose at least 1 piece to graduate.
  • thomasjwest: Summer teacher prep should be just like teacher’s professional development: individualized and progressive!
  • girlfromPBO: it seems like quite a few people spend the summer playing or performing for joy instead of work. I love that.

There was also a great books-to-read discussion, some of which I have posted in the Reviews section. Be sure to check for a Summer Reading List we compiled last night! I know I’m excited!!

Here’s the link from Andy Zweibel: Summer Reading

#MusEdChat is definitely a great way to start the week…inspired, motivated, and thankful for music and musicians!

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