Number of lessons: There are a set number of weeks that I am available to teach lessons during the year. The number of actual lessons may vary, depending on which organization you registered through and what time of year your lessons started. Lessons will be scheduled so that most of them occur during the school year, although some may extend into the summer break. Events such as Kiwanis Music Festival and other workshops and masterclasses will count towards your total number of lessons, as well as any lessons devoted to parent interviews and related activities. For more information regarding the number of lessons you can expect to receive, see my blog post on the subject:
Duration of year: The last day of lessons for the year is July 31. After this date a new set of lessons will begin. Any lessons not received during the previous year will not be carried forward past this date. Lessons given in August will apply to the upcoming school year.
Weekly schedule: Lessons are scheduled weekly at a mutually convenient time based on student family and teacher availability. At intervals there will be a break when there are no individual lessons. This is to provide flexibility in the schedule to accommodate my activities as a performer and SAA teacher trainer. These breaks are set in advance, distributed with my teaching schedule in lessons, and posted on my website. Whenever possible they align with long weekends and school holiday breaks, but not always. The scheduling of these breaks may also shift based on changing circumstances. Any changes will be posted on my website and announced in lessons as soon as I know about them. These breaks are for individual lessons only – group classes are not affected by this and will continue to run on the group class schedule, which is independent of the individual lesson schedule.
Extra lesson days: There are also several extra lesson days indicated on my schedule. These are days when my regular weekly teaching schedule does not apply, and any student can sign up at any time for a lesson. These days are intended to provide rescheduling opportunities for scheduling conflicts or extra lessons in the event that a lesson is missed for reasons that qualify according to the applicable attendance policy. Student families are responsible for booking lessons on extra lesson days if they need or want extra lessons.
More or fewer lessons: It is possible for students to receive more than the set number of lessons for the year if they take advantage of all the extra lesson days and anticipate scheduling conflicts by booking extra lessons in advance. I do not charge extra for surplus lessons – these lessons are my bonus to you for being conscientious about scheduling and proactive about working around scheduling conflicts. On the other hand, it is possible for students to receive fewer than the set number of lessons if they miss multiple lessons without taking responsibility for notifying me in advance and scheduling extra lessons on the days allotted for that purpose. I do not give refunds or make up for outstanding lessons at the end of the year.
We’re in this together for the long term: My interest in your development as a musician, and your relationship with me as your music teacher, will last for many years. Some years you may receive more than the set number of lessons, other years fewer. Over the long term, it will all work out. I prefer this long term view, providing extra lessons on call, to tallying up instructional minutes. Learning does not always confine itself to a precise schedule of weekly lessons that are always exactly the same length. And don’t forget that the practice time you invest in at home will increase the productivity of your instructional time more than any number of extra lessons.
Commitment: When I place a student in my schedule, I make a commitment to work with that student until high school graduation, or longer if music becomes a professional choice. I expect my student families to make a reciprocal commitment to long term study. As an SAA teacher trainer, I am expected to maintain a demonstration studio for teaching teachers how to teach. This means that you will always receive the most carefully thought out lesson and practice assignment that I can provide. In return, I expect that you will follow that practice assignment as carefully as possible in order to demonstrate its effectiveness in your next lesson. Students who routinely neglect their practice assignments to the point of not providing effective demonstrations may be requested to give their place in my schedule to another student who will make that commitment. (The odd “bad week” is not a concern – these provide good demonstrations of how to cope when life happens.)
Group class attendance: Music is a social art. There are many things about communicating with an audience and playing in an ensemble that are not possible to cover in an individual lesson. Therefore I expect my students to attend group classes regularly. Most music classes offered by school programs do not fulfill my requirements for a group class, as they usually emphasize rote learning and following direction.The group classes offered by the ESFRS program are preferable in their emphasis on individual responsibility and eventual independence.
Addressing the teacher: I request that my students address me as “Mrs. Schoen” when we begin lessons. This may seem a little bit old fashioned at first, but our student/teacher relationship will gradually transform into a collegial relationship over the years, and as it does the students will often drift into addressing me on a first name basis.
Mutual communication: I expect student families to notify me of scheduling conflicts, illnesses, and other impediments to lesson attendance and home practice as soon as possible. Email or text message is the best way of getting a message to me quickly. When these things happen, please check my teaching schedule and suggest alternative times from those that are available. I will also be as prompt as possible in notifying students of any changes that I may require for personal or professional reasons, and suggest possible alternative times.
Punctuality: I expect my students arrive in time to start their lessons at the scheduled time. That means arriving with enough time before the lesson to take off your shoes, hang your coat, and assemble your instrument . Knock on my studio door as soon as you arrive. I may invite you in to observe the end of the previous lesson. It is sometimes difficult to keep to my schedule and finish the previous lesson on time – an extra couple of minutes with a student (or a parent!) at the end of a lesson can make a big difference to the quality of their practice for the next week. Please do not add to this difficulty by arriving late for your lessons!
Instruments & supplies: I will give specific instructions for obtaining instruments, recordings, and scores as required. I expect my student families to take responsibility for acquiring these materials promptly. I will give lots of advance notice for things that I know will need to be special ordered. If I suggest a specific edition or performance it is for good reasons – please consult with me before selecting an alternative if the original one is not available.
I do not want to take valuable lesson time dealing with payments, receipts, and other administrative details. Most of these things can be dealt with on line via Paypal, websites, email, etc. Please ensure that these issues are dealt with in advance of your lesson whenever possible. If you need to submit any payments by cheque, please write the cheques ahead of time.
If you have any questions at all about any aspect of our lessons together, please send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. If I cannot answer the question by return email, at least I can allocate time in our next lesson to deal with the issue.