A teacher at a summer festival once asked me, "What are you going to do with violin?" I had no idea what I could do because I had been taking lessons for only 2 years at that point. (story for another day). I sheepishly said I didn't know.... She excitedly explained what the Suzuki method was and I was immediately drawn to this teaching method. After that, I started teaching the Suzuki while I was in undergrad. I taught in homes, taught free classes in the inner city for a music ed experiment, and slowly began my early experiences as a teacher.
What are you going to do with violin?
I soon realized that my teaching bag was WAY TOO full as I kept anything and everything I needed to teach and engage students: practice sheets from the practice shop (an entire binder of them in fact), stickers, books on teaching plus the notes I took on students, file folders, blue jello cards, maybe even an extra box violin!
Each week, I like to 'shake things up a bit' and give parents engaging articles in the parent class, hand out fun seasonal practice guides, etc. But, I soon found my teaching bag overflowing. Each family was very busy and I found it difficult to educate families on the Suzuki method and the various techniques we were trying to learn in the lessons. I frequently had questions that needed more time to answer that I could with back-to-back lessons, so I decided to put everything into one book: The Handbook.
I have condensed it & will continue to try and condense it as much as possible!
(below is my current teaching back that I would LOVE to condense...) It contains the entire music mind games classroom pack! But its so helpful to have to teach theory each lesson, give a student an entire theory lesson if they forget their instrument, or start with some fun theory games if a child is just 'not feeling' like violin that day!
Printing the handbooks in advance is nice to do! If a new student contacts you, then you don't have to run to make copies that day. Staples paper discount is the best one I know of! They give a hefty bulk discount to small businesses. I made 20 copies of my handbook (60 pages front and back).. roughly 1,200 pages and cost $120.00! Not bad. Punching and binding these handbooks probably took 3 hours in total.. more than one would think!
I purchased a binding machine a few months ago for $50 to make supplementary materials for my students, and it has been well worth the investment! Clear protector sheets and also black card stock for the back of the binding was also worth purchasing.
In here one will find:
-all of my contact info, fb page, Instagram, etc.
-all the lyrics to the songs we initially sing (I kept feeling bad for parents writing paragraphs of these words down or having to dig through pictures and videos on their phone to find a lesson video)
-the angles of the bow arm with pictures, all the bow games we will do so they can turn to them at home
-practice guides for all the pieces in book 1, part of book 2 plus review sheets for books 1-4 (these guides have pictures underneath that relate to the words so that they can have fun practicing.. I also feel like the bunny ballad students needed these after coloring an entire book of rabbits and carrots for months prior)
-Lesson expectations, vacation policy, etc
-Break down of prices, plus discounts for: family members, referrals, first time discount, and also for yelp!
-Commitment to Music (an old student told me a teacher that did this and I liked the idea of a student signing a practice commitment- also great because the parent can go back and say: look, you committed!)
-The Million Dollar Lesson
-Listening: 50 classical pieces (a student in Tampa recommended I do this and it has been one of the best ways to encourage a love for music) + questions to ask when doing ear training exercises at home
-Tonalization: what is it? Tone animal classes + excerpt from Suzuki's book Tonalizations
-Practicing: How to do basic holds at home, how to care for your violin, how to start practicing today, notes on pracicing
-Suzuki's Philosophy: excerpts taken from Book 1 & Suzuki quotes
-Resources for parents
-Memorization: Italian markings and musical symbols in book 1
-Left Hand: Barbara Barber's Fingerboard Geography & Woody Waddy for Book 2 students
-Duets to play together at home
-Copy of the stand up symphony (great group class project)
-a few pages copied from 'I Can Read Music' so we have it right away!