piano teaching Q&A: Early Explorers

Hi Jenny, I've recently been searching the internet for ideas for preschool music classes. While I've enjoyed getting familiar with all the different methods out there, I have often thought about putting in the time/ effort to just create my own curriculum. And then I came across Early Explorers.
Holy Moly. This is fantastic! The thing I love most? I wouldn't have to charge parents a materials fee (which I feel is a big factor!) I have a couple of questions for you about how you do your preschool classes.

1. Are they weekly? Bi-monthly? Monthly? Or do you just do preschool music camps as they fit into your schedule?

2. How many children have you found to be ideal in a group setting like this?

I feel like I have more questions, but don't even know what to ask. I look forward to spending more time checking out your lesson plans before my own little one wakes from his nap! Thanks!

Thanks for the great questions! Early Explorers has turned into such a fun and wonderful way to bring that preschool-aged group of kids into my teaching schedule. The kids always have a blast and so do the teachers!

There are several ways you could format this class.

We have done several weekly Early Explorers classes during regular fall or spring semesters. We have also taught week-long 5-day "camps" during the summer or during spring break.

Both formats work great and have their advantages - some parents like the weekly format as it gives their preschoolers something fun to do each week. As they come each week they know what to expect as each class has a similar routine and schedule. Many parents like to go over the take-home materials with their children during the week, and so the kiddos retain more and learn better in this format. Other parents LOVE our week-long camps, as it is sometimes easier for scheduling - they only have to come for one week and not be available on the same day each week for the length of the class. The week-long camps are an awesome opportunity for the kids to jump in and get a great introduction to the joy of music! They are a TON of fun.

As far as number of children per class, it all depends! My friend and colleague Nichole (who wrote this curriculum with me) and I co-teach our Early Explorers classes, but you could easily do it on your own if you don't have too many little ones to handle. We have had as few as 3 and up to 8 or 9 children in a class with both of us teaching and it has worked great in that range. We could probably handle at least a couple more with both of us teaching. If you do not have another teacher helping, I would probably recommend 5 or 6 at the most, but it entirely depends upon the kids in your class. Some at that age will be more mature and will sit and listen better, and some may be all over the place! Our lesson plans are designed to have a variety of short activities scheduled to keep little attention spans engaged.

Another idea is that you could have one of your more advanced teenage students help as a co-teacher for a larger class, or you could always invite parents to come and stay for the class. You should also consider the ages of the children signed up for your class. I would feel more confident in handling a larger group of 4-year-olds than a larger group of 3-year-olds! Use your judgement and think about the ages and maturity level of your students.

Each hour-long lesson focuses on a basic music concept (such as high/low, fast/slow, loud/soft, the musical alphabet, etc.). The lesson plans are not in any particular order, so you can "mix and match" them as you wish and put them in any order! Some of the concepts overlap from lesson to lesson to help reinforce what the children are learning.

One of the great things about this curriculum is that each plan comes with a printable take-home book to print out and staple together to send home with each child. These are also great for coloring if you have extra time! You will need a few materials for crafts, some studio supplies/equipment (like a piano of course, and some lesson plans use some rhythm instruments, etc.), and there will be a little prep work for some of the printable teaching aids and such, but once you teach the class once you will have all of those teaching aids ready for next time, and then it will just be a matter of printing out and assembling the books for each child!

We usually do charge a very minimal materials fee (which is also a deposit that secures the students' spot in the class - we have found this is important because it helps to ensure against "no-shows") at the beginning of the class to help cover the cost of the paper/printing, and sometimes we do make t-shirts for the kids to wear on the last day, so that is also included in that fee. But, you can set up the fees in any way you'd like! The great thing is that it's all printable - once you buy the lesson plan, you can print as many copies as needed for your own studio.

There are several more plans that will be available to purchase in the coming weeks, so stay tuned!

Come visit The Teaching Studio Store to learn more about and to purchase our fun preschool music class lesson plans! And don't forget to also check out our "Mighty Musicians" curriculum, which is similar to "Early Explorers" but geared toward 5- and 6-year-olds.

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