Updated: Jul 5
By Christy | The Practicing Pro
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I called my daughter yesterday. It was her moving day and she and her husband had rented a van and were moving by themselves.
Now you need to know that my daughter is pregnant with her second child, due in just over a month. She works as a middle school science teacher and she has another few weeks before her maternity leave starts. So moving is not that easy for her right now. When I spoke with her, it was early afternoon. Her son was having his afternoon nap and she excitedly gave us a tour of her new place. She wasn’t stressed at all, even though she was in the middle of moving. During the tour, I saw boxes placed in every room. You see, when they moved, family, friends and people from her church all showed up to help with the lifting and carrying. They also had meals for them. Simply put - community and support from family and friends makes everything easier. When it comes to hard work, having this kind of support can even make it into a fun “event”.
Practicing an instrument every day with big goals is also a lot of work.
When a child or family feels like they are part of a musical community and everyone in the community has the same musical values and goals to improve and progress, then it makes it a lot easier. The work doesn’t seem hard knowing that everyone else is doing it too.
Like my daughter's moving day. It's still a lot of hard work BUT it doesn't seem like it when there is a supportive community lending a hand.
I took a course over a year ago now on “how to build a digital course”. It was incredible and as much work as a Master's program. I am still working on it for another year and my goal to complete it is January 2023. In this course, the instructor has all of the students make what are called “pods” and we are encouraged to meet regularly to share our goals and progress. It's up to us to decide who is in our group, how often we meet and how we run our meetings. But we are given some guidelines. I now have 3 groups of like-minded friends from all around the world, including North America, England, Africa and Brazil. It's pretty amazing how we learn from each other and support each other. When things are hard - and it's meant to be hard - so we let it be hard together. And together, it's a little easier. We still have to move an entire house. But, if I help and encourage my friend on her move and then she helps me with mine, the same amount of work is done but it's better, easier and even a little more fun.
As a music teacher or parent, you can create this for your child or students.
Today I am sharing a simple Valentine's idea with you.
All you need is some fun foam in white, pink, red - cut some hearts out the size of your hand. Usually, around Valentine's day time, you can buy it already in heart shapes.
I love these little diamond jewel stickers. You can also use regular stickers, but these diamond jewels are amazing and the kids love them. Teens love this activity too and I’ll show you how to adapt it to their age group later. Please note - it's ALL in the presentation and in your language. I have teachers at my school who have kids chomping at the bit to work hard and get their Valentine's up. Sometimes the teens are the most enthusiastic. I also have a few teachers who have students that reluctantly participate and a few that say they don't want to. BUT IT'S ALWAYS THE SAME TEACHERS. The students aren't the same, it's the teachers and their attitude and presentation about the activity.
What you can say at a school:
Make this lesson into a really “hard-working lesson” - what does this child find the hardest? Let's say harmonic minor scales.
OK, then we say to them:
“Today I have a hard-working Valentine's activity. All of the students in our whole studio/school are doing this activity this week for Valentine's - isn’t that cool? That's [50 / 80 / 220/ 403] students all working together, amazing! And you can be involved too. Here is how it works: for every 3 harmonic minor scales we play, and a review song in between, you will get one jewel to decorate your heart however you would like. Afterward, you can hang it on the hard-working wall for everyone to see! You will inspire the other musicians in the studio/school by seeing yours on the wall of hard work!'"
....and I also add
“And, I have a small candy treat to celebrate all of our hard work at the end of the lesson.”
This is usually what motivates the teens to be enthusiastic about the activity and do it. They might act like they are too old to do it, BUT if there is candy involved they will likely change their mind if the candy goes with the activity.
So first, you are being clear that EVERYONE is doing it and you are saying it's a HARDWORKING activity so no secrets there. You are also saying right up front EXACTLY WHAT they will be doing. They know EVERYONE is doing it so they are not alone when it feels long or tough. Lastly, they know they are posting it in a COMMUNITY SPACE, where everyone will be able to see it and they will INSPIRE someone else. They will also be inspired by the ones already there. If your wall can be right at the entrance of your school or home studio, even better. It will make them excited that everyone will see it and FEEL INSPIRED BY THEIR HARD WORK.
What you can say as a parent:
(You can do this on your own BUT if you can do it with a friend all the better. If you are doing it on your own, then do it with a sibling or as a whole family. For you, it can be each diamond stud sticker is 10 push-ups, 10 minutes walking or 5 pages in your book, etc… There is something you can also work hard on that your child knows you are now “working together”.)
“Today I have a hard-working Valentine's activity. Brian, who plays violin with Ms. Sara too, is also doing the same activity this week for Valentine's - isn’t that cool? He's at his house every morning working on his hard-working Valentine's just like you. I am also going to practice the piano while you are at school and make some as well each day! Here is how it works: for every 3 harmonic minor scales we play, and a review song in between, you will get one jewel to decorate your heart however you would like. At the end of the week, Brian is coming over to decorate Valentine's cookies with us and we are going to bring them to the Smith family! They just moved onto our street. We will also give them your hard-working Valentine's in a box with the cookies. They will feel so loved!”
I have done this wall of Valentines for many years. (photo below)
Never let the children put the stickers on. It takes too much time.
For younger ones, put the heart on the music stand. Have it facing away from them, then after each bit of hard work, swing the stand around and have them point to where they want you to place the next one.
For older ones, make a tally on the whiteboard or a piece of paper. Tell them that at the end of the lesson they get that number of jewels to place on their Valentine after their lesson is over. They like to be creative and do it themselves when they are older.
2. Do this for two weeks, or give out a few jewels or get really fast at putting them on because the kids like to get into it and will do things like spell their names or want a design around the whole heart, etc... this might take two weeks. A few times, I have let them do it during a second lesson after Valentine's if they have a design that is special and they feel they HAVE TO complete it.
3. Sometimes children want to take them home. This is an opportunity to teach them to share and be kind. They can have them in two weeks. But they can SHARE first and help other people to feel happy and encouraged to work hard when they come in the door. You can also ask them how they felt when they walked in the door and saw all of the hard-working Valentines - where they happy and excited to get started at their lesson? Now they can help other people feel excited about doing their work too. As a teacher, remember to send an email to your families complimenting their Valentines or say something like “I walked by the hard-working Valentines wall last night and yours JUMPED out at me and gave me the energy I needed to finish cleaning the school before I turned off the lights and locked up for the night”.
4. Find a project to use your Valentines. One year, a dancer had injured himself that had done a show with us recently. I packed a few hundred Valentines in a box for him and said “get better soon” from all of the children at the Scotia Suzuki School of Music. He LOVED it! Another time, we had a fellow work at the school on a few projects with us. He went on a wonderful adventure to a huge music competition in Toronto. We sent him the box of Valentines that year and wished him luck as hard work inspiration from our school. Again, it meant so much to him.
Good luck with this - holidays make everything easier. You can always give someone a Valentine - it's always a kind gesture no matter who they are to you. On a regular day, it could take more courage, but on Valentine's Day its easier to say “I care” or “I want to share” or in this case “let's make hard work easier TOGETHER”.
Happy Valentine's Day and have fun working together. I am doing this activity right now so if you are too, then let’s do some hard work together. Let me know what you are doing for an activity. You can also send me a photo or a story about doing this activity to show someone love or make work easier and that will make ME SO HAPPY!!!
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