Planning for the New Year: Welcome Night

RP Photo   As a child, I remember feeling so much excitement about the new school year.  I loved going shopping for my new school supplies and organizing my back pack for the first day of school.  But, one of the things I was most excited about was meeting my new teacher.  Meeting a new teacher will fill a stomach with butterflies, no matter one’s age and experience.  We wonder:  “What will they be like,” “Will they be nice,” and, most important, “Will they like me?”   Here at the New School, Welcome Night provides our students with an opportunity to meet their teacher prior to the first lessons.  Welcome Night is an open house at the school, traditionally held the Thursday before classes begin.  We usually limit Welcome Night to students who are changing teachers, and students who are new to the school.  This is an event, however, that could be held for all students, even if they know their teacher already, providing an opportunity to become reacquainted before the school year begins.   As we proceed with meeting each family, our teachers have found that having a general procedure in place can be useful.  We begin by spending a few minutes getting to know the student’s interests and personality.  A question might follow about summer vacations or hobbies.  The conversation then turns to the piano.   The teacher might have the student play a favorite piece or ask them about their favorite style of music.  Next, the teacher speaks about the lessons and their plans for the year.  This is a good time to discuss practice expectations and reiterate any important policies.  We take an opportunity to give families our school handbook for the year, their repertoire class calendar, a list of materials and books to bring to the first lesson, and perhaps a syllabus from the repertoire class.   At one point in the evening we have a special meeting just for families of beginning students.  We take the opportunity at this meeting to discuss good practice habits, good hand position and posture, proper seat height, and also to answer any questions these families may have.  This year we have an exciting added component!  We will have a mini-recital that is especially for beginning students called, “Meet the Piano.”  This recital will explore the variety of sounds and moods that we can achieve through piano music.  Our goal through this recital is to expose the children to the SOUND they can expect from the instrument.  We are hoping to pique their interest and generate excitement about lessons, as well as begin the process of developing their ears.   Just talking about Welcome Night makes me excited for the new school year.  I think I need to start packing a back pack! ___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ Editor’s note:  We used a special program this year to invite the students to welcome night, called “Sign Up Genius.”  This program is free.  We have just begun to explore the applications, butI I report that once parents have signed up, a reminder email is automatically generated, and parents have the option of instantly uploading the event onto their personal Google Calendar, if applicable.  http://www.signupgenius.com

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