A summer checklist for music teachers
The last few weeks of the academic year can be strange for music teachers. It often feels like the rest of the school is winding down while the music department is gearing up. Concerts, musicals, leaving events and supporting other departments with their ‘fun’ musical activities can make huge demands on your time. As a result, it can be easy to miss some of the housekeeping activities that make your life easier in September and will allow you to relax in the first few days of the holiday.
Below is a non-exhaustive list of things that you will probably want to tick off during the next couple of weeks.
Have you ordered everything for September?
As you rush around moving pianos and drum kits to the main hall for an end of year celebration, filling in a purchase request is unlikely to be high on your priority list. Then again, just think about how much easier September will be if you have enough plectrums, keyboard power supplies and whiteboard pens to get you through the autumn term. This doesn’t have to be a huge order but it’s worth topping up your usual supplies.
Have instruments been prepared for storage?
You’ve been coping with the heat for a few weeks now but your instruments will be exposed to warm temperatures all summer long. Loosen strings/skins, disassemble woodwind instruments and generally put things into a ‘rest state’.
Do instrumental teachers know the start date and holidays for the autumn term?
There’s nothing more frustrating for a peripatetic teacher than turning up to a school that’s closed for the day. Send out copies of the school calendar, the timetables (see below), start dates, etc. Armed with all the information, your instrumental and vocal teaching team will be confident that they’re not going to have a wasted journey.
Have displays and timetables been updated?
It doesn’t seem important in July but out of date ensemble and lesson timetables can cause huge confusion in the first week of September. At the very least, take down the existing timetables. Ideally, get the new ones up and ready so that there’s one less thing for you to think about in September. If the new timetables are up now, then you can even send copies home so that you don’t have to deal with a flurry of ‘when do lessons/clubs start in September’ phone calls.
Have you done the photocopying for September?
Do you have all the handouts that you need for the first few weeks back? If not, this is a quick and easy job. If you’re lucky enough to still have a reprographics department, then get your orders in now. Otherwise, take the opportunity to have a little quiet time while the photocopier does its work.
Have you asked the head teacher if (s)he wants music on the last day of term?
Music teachers will be well-accustomed to the frustration that comes from last minute requests for music. Get ahead of the game by sending your head teacher an email to check if (s)he has any expectations for live music on the last day of term. Admittedly, you may be putting an idea in his/her head but at least you won’t be surprised!
Have you asked the head teacher if (s)he wants music on the first day of term?
It’s difficult to throw together a last-minute performance on the last day of term but trying to do so at the start of the academic year, when pupils have spent six weeks forgetting every piece of music they’ve ever learned to play, is nightmarish. As with above, forewarned is forearmed!