Theory Group Drop In

Ultimate Music Theory - Theory Group Drop In

Have you ever needed to cancel a teaching day (or week) but you don't want to deal with rescheduling every single private lesson? 

Have you ever wanted to motivate your Students to complete more Theory? 

Why not try a Theory Group Drop In Class!

A Theory Group Drop In Class is simply that.  Students "drop in" for 1 to 2 hours (depending upon their levels) and work on theory.  A Theory Group Drop In Class can replace any private lesson.  It is especially great to "reschedule" lessons on days when regularly scheduled lessons are hard to schedule (like Halloween or Thanksgiving).

Organizing a Theory Group Drop In Class is as easy as 1-2-3!

Theory Group Drop In:  What is it?

At a Theory Group, the Students work at their speed through their own Ultimate Music Theory Workbooks and the Teacher marks all pages as they are completed.

Supplies required are:

A Theory Drop In Group is for ALL Students.  It is not a specific "Group Lesson" for a specific Workbook.

In my last Theory Drop In Group, I had Students from the Ultimate Music Theory Beginner A, B, C Series right through to the Advanced Workbook and Supplemental Level 8 Workbook (and just about every Workbook in between!).

Theory Group Drop In Class - Step #1:  Pick Your Date

As a Teacher for over 40 years, I still struggle with "what to do" when I need to take some time off, but rescheduling individual lessons is not a viable option.  As a member of the Ontario Registered Music Teachers Association, two of the "Generic Studio Policy" points state that:

  • No allowance will be made for lessons missed by students, except by special arrangement in cases of prolonged illness.
  • In the event of the teacher’s absence, adjustment will be made.

So, when I need to take some time off, I have to either reschedule all the lessons, refund (credit) my students for the lesson that I was unable to teach OR extend my teaching year to make up that lesson.  With a full teaching schedule, this can be a nightmare.

With a Theory Group Drop In Class, "making up" the private lesson is easy.  Step #1 is to pick the date.

My only "free" night is Friday Night.  So, my Theory Group Drop In Classes are (during the Teaching Year) on a Friday Night from 5:00 - 7:00 pm.  This is not negotiable.  This is the only time that works for me.

You do NOT need to accommodate the wishes of every single parent and child.  You DO need to accommodate YOUR needs according to your schedule - your Teaching Schedule and your "Family Time" Schedule.

Theory Group Drop In - Registration

In my Studio, I offer the Theory Group Drop In as either:

  1. a "Swap" or "Make-Ahead" Lesson:  When a Student is unable to attend their regularly scheduled lesson AND they have provided me with sufficient notice (as per my Studio Policy), they may attend a Theory Group Drop In "in lieu" of attending their regularly scheduled lesson.
  2. a "Teacher's Rescheduled Lesson":  When I need to cancel their regularly scheduled lesson, I will "reschedule" so that the students who miss their lesson due to MY absence can attend a Rescheduled Group Lesson (which is longer than a Private Lesson) at no additional  cost.
  3. an "Extra" Lesson:  Students may also pay a fee to attend the Theory Group Drop In.

In my last Theory Group Drop In (which was held on a Friday from 5:00 - 7:00 pm), I had:

  • 1 student use the Theory Group Drop In as a "make up" lesson (they are away on a family trip in the Spring and have given me 5 months notice);
  • 1 student use the Theory Group Drop In as a "Teacher's Rescheduled Lesson" (I had to reschedule their lesson in order to attend a Doctor's Appointment.  Instead of rescheduling their private 60 minute piano lesson, the student attended the 2 hour Theory Drop In Group.);
  • 6 students who paid the Theory Group Drop In Fee to attend.

To Register, I simply send parents an email stating that "The Theory Group Drop In Class will be held on _____.  The attendance fee is $_____.  The RSVP Date is ______.  Students are asked to bring a shareable snack; Your Teacher will be providing Pizza and Juices."

Theory Group Drop In - Step #2:  Students Complete the Pages; Teachers Mark the Pages!

During the Theory Group Drop In, Students read through the Instructions in their Workbooks and they complete the exercises.  If Students have a question, they ask it!  The Teacher's explanation is then "heard" by all students.  This either "pre-teaches" concepts or "reviews" concepts for the other students.  Therefore, Students can be at different levels!

If the Teacher is busy marking a Student's completed pages, then the Student simply continues to work through their UMT Workbook until the Teacher is available to mark it.

For my Theory Group Drop In class, this is part of the fun.  Students try to be the "next person" in line to have their pages marked.

Ultimate Music Theory Group Drop In Step 2

The above pictures are from my last 3 Theory Drop In Groups.

The Picture on the left shows me with 3 of my Students in a summer Theory Group Drop In.  This was the first time these 3 girls attended a Drop In.  They were "hesitant" to attend, but I told them that if they attended and did NOT have fun, they would not have to ever come to another Theory Group Drop In.  They came back...LOL.

The Picture in the center shows UMTC Teacher Deanna Walker marking Theory Pages while holding her 3 month old son Benji.  It is so easy to mark theory when you use your Answer Books!

The Picture on the right is from my latest Theory Group Drop In.  With 8 students in attendance, I "hired" one of my senior students - Olivia Allen - to be a "Student Teacher".  Olivia marked all the Beginner A, B, C Workbooks and the Basic Rudiments Workbooks.  I marked the Intermediate, Advanced and Supplemental Workbooks.

Olivia Allen is also a featured Composer in the Level 8 Supplemental Exams that are available to purchase and Download.  (Studio Licence means that, with your ONE TIME PURCHASE, you can re-sell these exams to your Students.)

Theory Group Drop In - Who Do You Mark First?

I use an "Easy Button" in the middle of the table.  Students press the button when they are ready to have a page marked.  I will then mark their pages in the order that they have pressed the Easy Button.

I have also used little stuffed animals as "mascots" for each student.  Students pick out their little stuffed animal and, when they are ready to have their pages marked, they place their stuffed animal in the line up in the middle of the table.

Theory Group Drop In - Step #3:  Celebrate!

At the end of each Theory Group Drop In, we like to Celebrate!  In my Studio, each student has their own "Clipped Corners" jar.

When students complete their theory (and we clip the corner of the page to show that it has been completed), we put all of their Clipped Corners into their Theory Jar.

Students love to count their completed clipped corners.  It gives them a sense of accomplishment.  As a Teacher, I love to clip their corners.  It makes it easy for me to go skip the pages that are completed and go straight to the new material.

Ultimate Music Theory Group Drop In

I think that the hardest part of running a Theory Group Drop In is getting the kids to leave my house after the 2 hours are over.  The next hardest part is... these Students want me to have a Drop In every 2nd Friday night!  They want to do MORE THEORY!  Wow.  I love having that kind of problem.

I would love to hear about your Theory Group Drop In Experiences.  I hope that this Blog has inspired you to try a Theory Group Drop In with your students.


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Shelagh McKibbon-U'Ren


2 thoughts on “Theory Group Drop In”

  • Joanne Barker says:

    What a great way to do make up lessons. Do you also offer it as an extra for those who are interested?
    As a group teacher, i love this idea, especially for making up for weather cancellations. For those students of mine who are in private lessons with me, this is a genius idea!!!

    Thanks Shelagh!

    • Shelagh McKibbon-U'Ren says:

      I sure do Joanne! And believe me, once a child attends a Theory Group Drop In, they want to come back! I always tell the parents and child that, if they do NOT have fun, they do not ever have to come back. It has never happened. My problem now is that my students want me to run these every week! Who knew that teenagers want to spend a Friday night doing theory (and eating pizza) with their “old Music Teacher”. LOL. Shelagh

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