Things to consider when planning a piano camp:
- What age group/level will your camp be available to? - the camps I have planned have been for preschoolers age 3-5 :)
- Who is your target audience in advertising for your camp? Is it current students who are already in your studio? Or are you using this as a tool to find new students in the community? Are you advertising to the community at large? To friends and neighbors? To people who attend your church?
- How many days/how long will your camp run? We decided on five 50-minute sessions during one week's time. The last day is a Parents' Day where the parents come and join in, see what their children have been learning and hear a little "recital," then we give out certificates and present the children with their binders of camp activities to take home.
- What do you want the focus of your camp to be? Music theory? Performance? Music appreciation? Duets/ensemble playing? Piano fundamentals? - the purpose of my camp is to introduce preschoolers to music and to the piano, and we teach piano fundamentals, music & movement, basic music theory, etc.
- Are you going to use an already-prepared curriculum, or write your own? I wrote my own curriculum, and started out by jotting down all sorts of game/activity ideas and brainstorming with the other instructor. We decided on a few main concepts that we wanted to teach, and went from there.
- Scheduling activities/planning the curriculum: we found it helpful to have a similar schedule/routine each day of the camp - this helped in planning and is nice to have a predictable routine for the kids to count on. We broke the activities into different categories, such as instruction/story time (we taught a lot of keyboard concepts in the form of a story of some sort - it really captured their attention!), music & movement activities (which usually got them up and moving around while learning different concepts), table time (where we would either do some kind of craft or review/learning activity while sitting at a table), time at the piano, etc. We found that it was important to have a variety of activities, and to break up the high-energy games with some lower-energy, sit-down activities.
- What materials will you need? How much will the materials cost? What preparations need to be done beforehand? - this was a big consideration for us because we wanted to send each student home with a binder of camp games and activities so they could review what we learned at home; this turned into a BIG job of making binders, but we loved the end result! We have learned to look for good deals on the materials we need, and to think of ways to streamline the preparation of the materials to save time. We also sent each student home with a camp t-shirt!
- How much will you charge? Will you charge a materials fee and then a tuition fee, or just have it all in one? How much do you need to charge to cover all material costs and have enough left over to cover your time? How much can you charge and still make it affordable to your target audience? This is the topic that we probably debated on the most - we wanted to make our camp affordable (many of the people we advertised to are families with young children who live in our area with a parent attending medical or some other school), but of course we still wanted to make some money. This is a topic that can be discussed a lot, but I think in general if you make it comparable to a month's worth of piano lessons, that is a pretty good guide to go by.
What ideas and suggestions do you have for planning piano camps? What kind of piano camps do YOU have planned for this summer?