The idea of summer practice packets came last year after I read an idea from a teacher going on maternity leave and what she was doing with her students. (You can read about the details in the original post here). So last year I offered summer practice packets as an “extra” for families that they can do on top of their summer camp if they wanted to.
This year I had some other ideas and wanted to share because it turned out SO good! Okay, I know you are wondering…
What are summer practice packets?
In my studio, summer practice packets are digital packets that include so many pieces for students to learn (in this case I included 4), an individual video lesson to go along with the piece and some supplemental practice resources such as practice games, worksheets, practice charts, etc…
What were the summer options for families?
During the summer my students are required to take either a summer camp session or 2 summer workshops if they want to hold their spot for the fall. Some years it is a complete 8 hour camp, while other years I opt for workshops. The workshops are 4 hours each. 2 are required. This summer I decided to add in another option, which was a summer practice packet.
Here is what their options looked like…
As you can see, I wanted all my students to participate in the Practice Makes Perfect or Does It? workshop (you can read more about that here), but for those who were busy or maybe just not interested in the Feel the Beat workshop, I gave an option to choose a summer practice packet instead. In addition, I also gave the option to take advantage of all 3 (2 workshops and a packet) and gave a discount if they chose all 3.
What were the results?
I had two families that chose all 3 options. Everyone signed up for the practice makes perfect workshop since it was mandatory and then half chose the Feel the Beat workshop and the other half chose the summer practice packet. But then things got interesting…
I had 5 students who ended up getting sick when it was time for their session, or not being able to make their session due to being out of town or completely spacing their session day. These were all students who did not choose the summer practice packet. So what ended up happening is the summer practice packet became the win-win solution! Sick? No worries, I can just send them a practice packet instead. Still out of town? No worries, I’ll send a practice packet! It was GREAT to have this option and it was no extra work on my part to give it. Why? Read what’s next…
How were the packets organized?
In the end, I had 19 students (including my adult students) that received summer practice packets. Now, if I were to create 19 individual/customized packets along with the video lessons that would have taken me forever! Instead, I divided my students into what level they were in and then chose music (using unlimited reproduction licenses) based on those levels. I ended up with 5 different levels: Early Elementary, Elementary, Late Elementary, Early Intermediate-Intermediate and Advanced.
I then video taped 20 different lessons. (4 pieces per level) Lessons were on average about 6-10 min. each. So a few hours of total recording time. (For 19 students that isn’t bad at all) Of course there was the upload time where I uploaded all the videos to YouTube using an unlisted link after recording. I just worked on other things while the videos uploaded.
Then for each level I separated everything into folders. I put the video links in the READ FIRST file that you see in the picture below.
Because they would be getting several different folders from me, I compressed the folder into a zip file and then uploaded it to google drive. Then I emailed the link for the appropriate level to the parents. (Remember the 5 students who originally didn’t sign up for this option? I just sent them the link to the appropriate level- no extra time/work on my end)
In the end, I would definitely do this again next summer regardless if I do a camp or workshops. Summer practice packets were a definite win-win in so many different ways including keeping students playing during their break. The great thing about the packets is they can continue learning new pieces with my guidance but around their summer schedule. Like video lessons, summer practice packets have become a win-win in my studio!
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I love the video component of your practice packets, Jennifer! I did a Ice Cream Summer Challenge Packet for each student this summer where at our group lesson days after the recital, students got to go through all my music books and select up to 10 pieces that they wanted to learn for the summer, I added a composing book and manuscript paper. I purchased a ton of books to loan them for the summer (so, I am increasing my library), but it is certainly not conducive to making video lessons. I think I will try your summer packet idea next year – with the videos it is truly a value added, and I love that it is digital and the parents can print it out! That will save a HUGE TON of money and time with printing! Genius, Jennifer!
Thanks Mae! The summer ice cream challenge sounds like a lot of fun! Yes- go digital next year for sure! Glad you can use the idea! 🙂
Love this idea! I do not yet have equipment for video other than my phone. Would that do? And all the technology you mentioned, uploading videos, creating zip files,.. is a bit scary to me having never done it, but I want to learn. So many of my private students take off for the summer, this would be perfect for my studio! Thanks for the detailed process!
Hi Kim, yes you can definitely just record from your phone. I just recorded from my iPad. Uploading is as easy as just telling your phone to send the recording to YouTube. You will need a YouTube account first if you don’t already have one already. Zip files are also super easy. I’m on a Mac, so it’s just a matter of putting everything in the folder, and then right clicking compress file and it’s done. Then I just upload it to Google Drive, dropbox or whatever you want to use. If the file isn’t too big you can just email it to them directly. Hope that helps!
Nice idea, Jennifer! Thanks for sharing and congratulations on the wedding, too. I meant to comment on that earlier. Looks like it was a fabulous time for all!
Thanks Leila, it was a magical day! 🙂
These are great ideas, Jennifer! You are so clever. If you don’t mind me asking, what were your price points on these packages? Did this carry you for the summer in terms of income? Thanks for sharing!
Thanks, Kathleen! Because I hold music camps or workshops in the summer, I have the summer practice packet as an option they can choose. So one packet was the same value as one 4-hour workshop. In addition, if they wanted both (summer camp/workshop and packet) then I gave a discounted deal for all 3. The packets actually help me earn more than what I normally would have earned when families choose both options. 🙂 I hope that helps!