A couple week ago, we kicked off our fall semester! For many years the very first lesson of the semester is what I have called, fall kickoff. In normal circumstances, fall kickoff has been an in person group lesson. But it’s 2020 which means our fall kickoff was held online.
The weekend before our fall kickoff, I held a porch pickup. Parents picked up the materials we would be going through during fall kickoff.
During fall kickoff I always make sure I cover 4 main things…
- Introduce our new themed practice incentive program
- Introduce anything else new they will need to know
- We play a getting to know you game
- We share what we learned over the summer.
This year our new theme was Jukebox Journey, Time Traveling through the Decades. While I was narrowing down what I wanted to do this year for our theme, it came down to 2020. I thought it was the perfect time to go back the last 100 years and have students experience their musical past.
I wanted the main focus to be on practice progression and music history in the last 100 years. As students progressed in their practice they would be learning about each decade of music. (aka “time traveling”) I created interactive rooms for them to explore as they time traveled during their journey and earned their collector items.
NEW PRACTICE POUCHES / KITS
I started creating practice pouches or kits back in the early 2000’s after I read The Practice Revolution by Philip Johnston. (You can read an old post from 2011 here) I was so inspired by his ideas, that I wanted to create something that my students could take home and use on a regular basis. I knew many of my students old practice pouches were not like they used to be, and it was a good time to replace them all. I wanted these particular pouches to serve 3 purposes. I wanted them to be able to: 1) Use it at home during practice 2) Use it when we had lessons (whether online or in person) 3) Use it during music lab.
I made it clear that everything in the pouch needs to be returned to the pouch after use. I was not responsible for anything that might get lost or misplaced. If anything did, they would need to replace.
Inside the pouches, they received- a pencil, a highlighter, a box of crayons, stickers, earphones (for music lab), some practice games including dice and smarties. In the past I have also included a clothespin for finger strenghtening and/or a music page holder and a 1-minute sand timer (for a quick focused practice session) but this time I left those out. Some students still have their clothspin they decorated last year so I’ll let them know they can add it to their pouch.
After we went through everything inside their practice pouch, I introduced a couple practice games they could play that week.
GETTING TO KNOW YOU GAME
Each year I always like to do some kind of getting to know you game. They have varied in the past, but this year I decided since we were online I would simply just ask some fun questions. I unmuted students one at a time or if they preferred, they typed their answer in the chat. It’s always fun getting to know my students better!
Because I’ve done fall kickoffs for quite a long time, I have varied what I have had my students do over the summer. In the past we have had Summer Practice Projects, Surprise the Teacher or simply share a song or two they have learned over the summer. This year was a simply share year.
While I would love to hold group lessons in person this year, I have decided that groups will be staying online for awhile. Crossing fingers that by summer 2021 we can go back to in person groups in time for our summer camp workshop season. Time time will tell! Regardless, it was fun getting together and kicking off the new semester!
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