Lesson plans. Sometimes they are great and sometimes they just go flying out the window, especially if you are being a creative harp teacher. But having some idea in place as to what you would like to achieve at each lesson can give valuable structure to what is often a very short space of time, while leaving the student with a clear sense of purpose and direction.
When you are first starting out as a teacher, you may find that your plans are quite detailed. For instance:
Greeting and settling in- 3 mins
Warm up and scales (Grossi exercises 13-16)- 7 mins
Etude of the week (Pozzoli Study No. 3)- 10 mins
Introduce a new piece (Fiona Clifton-Welker- Charlotte in Spring)- 10 mins
I remember carefully noting all major repertoire to be covered, plus companion studies and exercises, and the order in which they were to be completed for all my students. And then never actually sticking to the plan.
In reality, a student might walk in the door and announce that they have had a string break and they can’t remember how to do the knot. Or that they didn’t spend any time on their exercises, but did loads of work on another piece they pulled out of the book themselves. Or why is it that there are 5 lines in a stave and can they learn the theme song for Game of Thrones?
And the plan goes out the window.
Over time, I’ve found that my plans are far broader, with a much more time allowed for completion of any given project. So nowadays, my lesson plan is never written down, and can vary widely from student to student. Here’s 2 samples:
Greet student and plunge straight into arranging A Thousand Years for harp duet. Use the opportunity to talk about 12/8 time and how many quavers fit into a dotted crotchet. Note the number of triplets in the left hand part- 20 mins
Assign a study focusing on triplets in both hands- 5 mins
Work out which key A Thousand Years is in and then play a scale in that key, using groups of 4 and groups of 3- 5 mins
Or with another student:
Greeting and chat about their dog- 5 mins
Revision piece from last month- 7 mins
Technical work and study- 13 mins
Exam List A piece 2nd section- 5 mins
Both plans are completely fine if they are meeting the needs of the student and keeping them engaged and motivated. The important thing is that the plan is not the same for everyone- not every student has the same goals.
It is a very rare lesson indeed that we actually cover everything that needs doing, so I tend to apply the advice that was given to me when I was dealing with a fussy toddler- sometimes you just have to accept that that is their carrot for the month. Would it be better if they ate more carrots more often? Possibly so. But the truth is they will continue to grow and develop with a monthly carrot. And do so with a lot less stress. Sometimes, it’s better to get that bit of nutrition in when you can (musical or otherwise), while always aiming for balance and growth.
At the end of the day, if your lesson plan is helping your student take even one small step further towards their goal by specifically addressing their strengths and weaknesses, then it is a good lesson plan.