Policies and Procedures

parent conference Since I opened up my studio ten years ago, I have required all parents to attend a year-end parent/teacher conference. The conference is always scheduled the week after spring term ends. This year it will be the first week in June. Every parent is required to attend in order to register for lessons in the next year. Parents sign up for 30-minute time slots per child. Students that are age 15 or older may join their parents but it is not required.

I really enjoy meeting with the parents to discuss how the year went, goals for next year, and areas that are in need of improvement. Another item of business in the conference is scheduling lesson times for the following year. Usually parents are thinking ahead and know what their child’s school and activity schedule will include. Some are already asking for lesson time changes in preparation for next year. For advancing students, it may be time to discuss and recommend a longer lesson time. This really helps in jump starting my planning for the fall and eases my job in August when putting together my final schedule.

teacher_at_computerWhen I wrap up another year of lessons, I always like to send out a studio report to my current students, and post a link to it on my website and studio Facebook page for prospective students to see. I do this for many reasons. At the end of the year, some students are feeling burned out with school, end of the year recitals and activities, and feel a bit down on themselves. I find that reminding them of all their accomplishments from the past year can help them feel proud and encouraged rather than stressed out and anxious. As current and prospective parents consider lessons for the following year, I also like to remind them about what my studio has to offer, and what sorts of things they have to look forward to in the year ahead.

April is an interesting month in my studio. My students’ spring breaks fall on different weeks throughout the month, so each week is a little lighter than usual.

But what’s most interesting is that when they come back, they’re just a little bit more focused and motivated than usual.

The same goes for me when I return from vacation. As much as I love spending some time in the sun with no responsibilities, it’s that refreshed and recharged feeling I have when I return that I like the most.

Art of PossibilityIn March, I traveled to New York City for the Music Teachers National Conference. Benjamin Zander, conductor of the Boston Philharmonic Orchestra, gave the keynote address on themes from the book that he and his wife wrote entitled, “The Art of Possibility: Transforming Professional and Personal Life.” A colleague and I arrived early for the session and were greeted warmly with a friendly smile and handshake by Zander himself! He inquired where we were from and took a sincere interest in us. I knew at that moment that this would be a special session. And it was – it was truly transformational.

Zander began his talk unconventionally by walking from the front to the back of the room. He mentioned why people choose to sit in the back or the front row. Often, people won’t choose to be in the front row because they think it is saved for V.I.P. “Back rowers” like to be able to make a quick exit, sleep or text. Those who choose to be in the front row are open to receive (we had hesitantly chosen to sit in the front row!). Since the front row seats were not full, he invited folks to move up into them.

We all have the choice to be in the front row of our lives. According to Zander, our choices can be boiled down to either an upward or downward spiral (winning or losing, succes or failure), or the “radiating circle of possibility.” He said, “The world will show up entirely in the way you create it.” In other words, the secret of life is that, “It is all invented.”

mqu9MRaDo you offer make-up lessons? Do you require 24-hour advanced notice? Are there make-up lessons built into your semester or yearly calendar? Do your make-up lessons ever bleed over into summer lessons eating away at your precious summer income? Do make-up lessons make you feel stressed, overworked or manipulated?

In teacher training classes, at conferences, and among music teacher friends, this is one of the most heated topics I hear about. Most people have a strong opinion one way or another. If you are an active performer and expect lots of flexibility from your students to accommodate your performing schedule, you may be one of the teachers IN FAVOR of make-up lessons. If you, on the other hand, are someone with a tight child-care schedule or teaching space limitations, you may be COMPLETELY AGAINST make-up lessons. For community music schools, preparatory divisions, or multi-teacher co-operatives, the topic of make-up lessons probably fuels many of your faculty meetings.