November is a funny month and yet a crucial one. I love November because it is the month of our annual musical production and I love nothing more than putting on a show. It is therefore quite a tiring month and one that I have to prepare for mentally and physically.
What I do in November
- Put on a school musical. It is a great time of year to do it as you avoid exams and you get the dark nights which make it better for lighting etc. This year I am doing Les Miserables and I can’t wait.
- I like to focus on coursework a great deal done in November. Lots of students are in the show and therefore lessons need to be a little lighter in terms of heavy going new topics and new information.
- November is very much a month to prepare for Christmas and by now all rehearsals are focussing on Christmas music.
- November is a month for getting in touch with local organisations, charities and companies to see you can provide any Christmas music for them. And you can use some events to raise money for your department!
Preparing for Christmas
If you haven’t already starting preparing for Christmas then November might be a good time. I start thinking about Christmas earlier, but November is when the real details & rehearsals start.
- Make sure you buy the music you need & think about repertoire. I like to use www.studio-music.co.uk as they have a great range and a good service.
- Ensure that venues are booked & confirmed to avoid disappointment.
- Now is a good time to give out dates to students – if not already. You want to make sure that your concerts have good student turnout.
- Work out when you are going to take breaks and block out your diary so that you don’t take on too much!
- Buy your Christmas presents in November as you won’t have time in December!
You might think it is mad to start thinking about Christmas in November, but I would also imagine you get what I mean. As music teachers we have so much to juggle, and it is better that we are prepared in advance. All we want is to give students opportunities and support the major school events. Christmas is a great chance for the department to shine.
I have a few things that I like to make sure I do every Christmas and you might like to plan for them as well.
- Provide music for at least one local charity.
- Provide music for local businesses who are more than happy to donate money to the music department.
- Get the whole school singing by holding Assembly Carol rehearsals.
- Bring together local schools in a big Christmas concert that showcases talent and inspires younger students.
Teaching in November
By November you are very much into the new academic year. September and October tend to fly by and then you land in this odd month. It is a full month for me, but for lots of you it may well be a slightly strange month with not much going on – expect all the Christmas rehearsals!
It might therefore be a good time to try out some new ideas with your classes. Maybe you want to start using some new technology or you try something innovative with Key Stage 3. I am always keen to push myself and try something new and I look for that times of year when I might have the time to do it.
I remember one year trying out using a Loop Pedal in lessons to see how it might work. I planned the lesson but in-fact it became a really organic lesson which went off in new and exciting directions. I wonder if this November you shouldn’t try something new to keep things exciting in your classroom. And if you are looking for ideas then I am happy to share them with you, just get in touch.
I hope you have a great November and find the time to plan for December!