With our focused mentor program, mentors work with students on specific instruments or instrument families over the course of the school year, coaching three session over a six week period during each performance season for a total of nine sessions per year. Having the same mentor work with the students throughout the entire year creates consistency that not only helps the student grow as a musician, but provides them with additional support as they transition year to year and from school to school. Mentors work closely with all instructors in the pipeline, which improves the number of students who continue to participate in music programs year over year.
This program starts with an initial session in week 1, a follow-up in week 3, and the final preparation session in week 6. It’s recommended that instructors work backward from their seasonal events to determine the ideal timing for each session. Note that while this is our recommended cadence, it can be adjusted to fit scheduling or other considerations each season.
The fall sessions are geared to determine the students’ current ability and areas for focus, and prepare for the fall concert.
The first session is designated for student evaluation so the mentor can recommend approaches to the director for working with the students. The mentor works closely with the instructor prior to the first session to determine what material will be covered in each subsequent session. That focus can be re-evaluated after each session.
This session is geared to allow the mentor to offer more specific instruction and guidance based on student ability and goals for that season, based on the performance material and instructor’s needs and concerns.
Week six focuses on final preparation for the fall concert or other planned events. An additional week off is added between the second and third sessions to allow students to fully integrate work done in the previous session. At the conclusion of week six the mentor will provide feedback to the instructor on possible areas of focus for the upcoming season.
During the fall season, an additional session can be added to evaluate the students’ instruments and set-ups, and provide recommendations for improvement (i.e., mouthpieces, reeds, repairs, etc.). This would be inserted at week 2, and extends the fall session to seven weeks by moving the week 3 session to week 4, and week 6 to week 7. The need for this can be discussed as part of the consultation between the director and mentor prior to the start of the program, and finalized after week one so the timing of all sessions can be adjusted to coincide with the season’s targeted performance and intended outcomes.
Winter sessions prepare students for the seasonal concert, festivals, or other special events. These sessions follow the same cadence as fall, with sessions in weeks 1, 3, and 6. At this point the mentor will better understand each student’s ability and needs, and can continue focusing on the areas of greatest need based on upcoming events.
Spring sessions focus on work to prepare students for events during the busy spring season. The sessions for week 3 and week 6 also include coaching and conversations on what’s next for the students in the following year, helping to answer questions students may have about transitioning to the next year while encouraging continued participation. For students transitioning from elementary to middle school, or middle to high school, this will help them better understand what they can expect from and how to best prepare for the following year, while providing continued connection with mentors who work within the feeder system, leveraging the relationship the mentor has with both the students and the instructors in the pipeline. For students who will be graduating high school, the mentor can explore with the students opportunities for continuing with music, whether or not students intend to continue with music into higher education. These conversations are based on the mentor’s personal experience in how they grew as musicians after completing their secondary education, and how they continue to participate within the music community.