The New Teaching Year

I’d like to say that the new teaching year has started in earnest but the reality is it’s more an easing into it. It’s Summer holidays and schools don’t go back till February. That means that most students are taking advantage of the time off and living their adventures before getting sucked back into institutionalisation.

That being said, I still like to provide lessons for two weeks of January and on Saturday two of my students were keen (or at least their parents were). Next week it will hopefully be up to seven then back to normal come February (twelve students).

The only students that have moved on to new activities (i.e. quit) were my two grade 8 students (who both passed by the way, one with merit). It makes sense; grade 8 is that epic goal for most people and once reached, there doesn’t seem to be a worth while next goal to justify the huge cost of going to lessons. I’ve never known a youth orchestra or NZ university requiring anything above grade 8.

In fact, lessons where I teach went up another dollar this year. Incredible. When I started teaching in 2001 lessons were $16.50 NZ, now in 2014 they’re $29.50. I teach at a music centre where they find the students, provide a studio room and do the billing and I get the luxury of just showing up and teaching (that’s a simplification, but a fair one). Perhaps my economic brain is still stuck in the 90s but it makes me wonder how much a personal trainer charges, or a dance teacher, pilates instructor or math tutor. Perhaps everyone sits in that $60 hour range.

It seems I may have been a bit slack ringing some of my students though. The guitar teacher who also teaches on Thursday teaches one of my sax students and he’s gone and rung them asking to have an earlier lesson (they usually have guitar after sax). The result would have been an hour gap and so the parent has decided to defer to next week.

Lesson: ring early and don’t assume whatever you say about start times the previous year (4 weeks prior) is going to be taken into consideration.

I can’t be too hung up about it because that guitar teacher recommended me to a beginner clarinet student. Their first lesson is this Saturday. Awesome.

Something that I should do again this year is write a letter to the parents of all my students. Things that spring to mind are:

  • Who I am and what my musical experience is
  • Explain that my day job is a programmer.
  • Goal setting for students, although more importantly, the processes of working towards them. Basically I want to also encourage students to be forthcoming is requesting music (favourite song or whatever) rather than just me providing material prescriptively.
  • Explain how missed lessons work and how I need 2 days notice (lessons are supposed to be paid in advance as a form of commitment to lessons).
  • My contact details

So, a few more students to contact and very soon everyone will back into the flow of things.


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