Designing Summer Workshops: The Daily Schedule

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Now that you’ve learned how to plan a workshop, schedule it on the calendar, announce it to your studio, and how to create an incentive for registration, it’s time to get into really fun stuff: creating the daily schedule. This will be my third year of workshops and camps, and I’ve learned quite a few tricks along the way. Here are a few tips that you might find handy when it comes to designing your camp day-by-day:

1) Get Messy. Yes, I mean this literally. Sometimes the creative process needs a bit of a mess for you to make progress. If you’re planning a workshop or camp from scratch, this step can help you see “the big picture.” Try this: Create a list of ALL the activities you’d like to include in the event, then cut them into strips and create “days” by grouping various activities together. As old school as this might sound, I like to create this “schedule mess” by spreading it over the floor or on a big desk. If that isn’t your style – try using color coded post-it notes on a pin board or… use a Pinterest board!

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Be Creative With Your Schedule

2) Mix it Up. Fill your schedule with different types of activities. Avoid doing too many similar activities back-to-back. It helps to categorize your activities. Here are a few category ideas: Ice Breakers, Quick Games, Composition Activities, Practice Time, Listening Exercises, and Free Time.

3) Time your Activities. If you’ve never used a game or activity before, you’ll need to have an estimate of how much time it takes to complete. Remember to include set-up and tear-down time in your trial runs. If you have a lot of activities that require set-up, you might try setting them up the night before, or you might consider getting a helper for your workshop. (Older students or significant others are good candidates!) Keep in mind that you will need time to explain the rules and perhaps try a “test run” if the game or activity is complex.

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Time Your Activities!

4) Create Flexibility in Your Schedule. You can spend all the time in the world creating the “perfect” schedule for your event, but just remember that sometimes things look better on paper than they do in real life. If you find that your day isn’t running smoothly, or if an activity has students stressed out, you’ll need to be able to think fast to regain composure and momentum. I like to keep a couple of “studio favorites” on hand just in case: the ice cream interval game was one of my favorites last year.

5) Don’t Always Reinvent the Wheel. If you’ve never run a workshop or camp before, don’t be afraid to use one that already has a schedule planned out. This was how I got started! It takes some of the planning stress away if you don’t have to reinvent the wheel. There are a lot of teachers out there that have books or PDFs for sale that detail every activity that they use in their events. (Look for those in this blog NEXT YEAR! Those will be part of my fall/winter projects.)

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Keep Organized!

Each time I run a workshop or camp, I like to create a physical schedule for me to glance out throughout the day. I keep it in a binder with all the activities and materials that I need for that specific camp. After running six different workshops and camps over the past two years, I’m starting to build a nice little library of folders! This should come in really handy in the future, especially since I’ve had several students request that I create similar workshops in the future.

I hope that you find this useful! I’ve had several requests to detail some of the camps that I’ve run in the past, but I’m afraid those posts will just have to wait. I’m knee-deep in studio activities with an upcoming spring recital, switching to a new summer schedule, and three brand-new workshops and camps to plan. If only we had 30+ hours in the day!

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