Study Guides to Pass the Torch

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For several years I have been writing study guides for my students in an effort to help them maximize their practice time. I started doing this in 2006 when I was out of the country for the month preceding solo contest. Because I knew I would be gone during that time, I designed step by step instructions for each of those students so they would know what and how to practice while I was gone.

When I returned, I realized I had created a system of communicating practice strategy to the students and I began using the study guides regularly for any long term projects they were working on. Most typically these were competition pieces but not always.

The study guides have worked well for these few years but I’m concerned that the students have become complacent in taking part of the planning that should be invested before working on a major piece. As with most of what I do as a teacher, the study guides were originally intended as an example for them. I didn’t mean to actually do all of the planning work for them. But that’s how it worked out in the end.

I am happy to have used the study guides and I will continue to use them with the students who have never done anything like that before. But now is time to pass the torch. It’s time to give the students who have been using these guides an opportunity to begin planning and writing those plans on their own. My job is to teach them, not to always do the work for them.

One study guide I have done every year for the past five or six years is for the All-State band trumpet audition music. This year I have no new high school students and it’s time for the high school students I do have to begin making these plans themselves.

I will blog again later about how well this goes. I’m actually quite excited about the change of procedure.

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