October is one of those months that seems like it could be quiet in a music department, the calm before the storm of November & December. October for me is a month where I like to pull together the things that I started in September. It is also a month with a half term break which is something to look forward to.
What I do in October?
- In the final week of this half term I hold a big concert to round off the first few weeks. I see this as an “Autumn concert” and it is good because it gives us something to work towards. I see it is a way of showcasing all that has gone on since September.
- If you are holding a concert, make sure you start to get the set list together early on in October.
- In October I like to start looking at Christmas repertoire. Nothing major, but just a few bits here and there as I am aware that time flies by after half term.
- October is a good time for assessments and I find it is a good opportunity to hear all GCSE & A-Levels students perform (if not already of course).
- It is a good time of year to touch base with local charities & businesses regarding potential Christmas events and gigs.
- October presents a chance for a visit to the Music Expo in Manchester – great if the London expo is a little too far away from you. Book your free place and head to the expo for some great FREE CPD!
Our school open evening is always in October, and I am assuming that most schools will have theirs at a similar time. If yours is in September, then just take the ideas onboard a few weeks earlier.
Open Evening is a really important event for us as music teachers, and of course, for the school in general. It is a chance to sell our subject and our school. I love the October open evening and I wanted to share with you some tips for a good evening:
- Make sure music features in the main presentation part of the evening. Don’t wait to be asked, just tell SLT what you are performing and where you would like to be. You can use open evening as the first major gig of the year and work towards it in your rehearsals.
- Take the time to tidy your music room and make it look amazing and exciting. This can be a burden amidst all the other things we have to do, but it is important that future students and parents find the music room an exciting place to be.
- Fill every available space with music making. If you have practise rooms then use them! Students can lead small ensembles in any smaller rooms that you have.
- Make sure that you have students in the music room helping you out and advocating for the department. Pick a range of students, but not too many.
- Have work open on computers – I often find parents are impressed with technology.
- Have an instrument on hand for future students to try out. I always turn to the P-Bone plastic trombone as I find that is an instant hit and something that most kids can get a note out of.
- Invite them to the Autumn concert that I mentioned above.
- Make sure that you advertise your social network details so that they can start following you. Twitter for me – @twbsmusic.
- Don’t bombard them with textbooks and written work but with sound and excitement. When they walk into the music room, make sure it is vibrant and exciting, with music and sounds coming from all angles. Anything you do want to show, put on a music stand as it takes up less space than a table.
- Come in early the next morning to clear everything up and make sure you give the students who helped some sweets or treats to say thanks.
Open evening would be nothing without some music and I hope that you are able to suitably infiltrate yours! I would go and see your SLT before October if possible.
When you are planning for October, make sure you plan how you are going to keep going. By this I mean, make sure you don’t over-load yourself, but also make sure that you are always looking ahead. When I consider October I am also thinking ahead to December. This might seem odd, but I consider what I do in October to be laying the foundations for December. Rehearsals in October are helping to prepare for the full-on festive season. I like to keep this in mind.
But also October is a good time to reflect as you reach the end of the first half term. You might like to encourage your students to do the same. Taking time to reflect is hugely valuable for everyone and October Half Term will soon be here. It will help students to plan ahead and review how well they are working so far in the year.
Keep in touch
I hope that you are enjoying this blog series. Please do subscribe to my blog by email so that you receive the latest updates. And please do share with me any ideas you have for any month of the year. I love hearing what others are doing – we can all learn from each other! Send me an email or get in touch on Twitter, I would love to hear from you.