teaching music to children

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There is a big difference between teaching children and teaching adults, this changes the dynamic of the class whether  it is online or in person. There is a reason why some people prefer to work with children and why others prefer to have a more mature class, and it’s because the experience is almost completely different. It could be very helpful to think about these differences and how it should affect the approach from the teachers side.

While it’s impossible to be perfectly accurate, a range of ages and categories could definitely help organize the way we approach different types of groups.

Very Young Children (from 4 to 7)

At this age the most important factor is to have their attention with something fun, and through this, give little doses of knowledge. This applies to every area of education, however with music, it tends to be a little more dynamic friendly. Music can be very fun without any problems at all

Children (8 to 12)

This is when discipline starts to be a very important thing to focus on, because it’s very easy for children around this age to run wild and find distractions, it’s not as simple as making it fun for them, it’s also a matter of keeping them interested. At this age real preferences and interests start to come out, they begin to test the waters and guide themselves with their taste in music, sports, games, or any other activity.

Because of this the students will become varied, and with different orientations, but without much discipline or disposition to be in a class and learn. This is the time for questions,

Teenagers (13 to 17)

At this point bigger words are said, bigger meanings are found, tougher music is played and understood, and there is a growing sense of determination towards learning, in this case, practice music in order to achieve their personal goal as musicians.

This is also the beginning of their lives being more independent, making more decisions and exploring different parts of their lives, trying new things. This will show in a class room or in an online class, as students will be eager to apply the things they learn into their own ideas.

Young adults (18 to 26)

These are the students that are closer to have university type of experience or probably with a regular job, clear aspirations and a sense of responsibility. For some, this is the ideal moment to start learning music in an academic sort of way, because everything they learn will be taken with more attention and maturity than to say an 8 year old. This does not mean that children shouldn’t learn, it just means that the overall experience may be more complete if have the experience and discipline for it.

Adults (27 and more)

They can range from a very passionate musician that didn’t start very young but nonetheless aspires to do great things with music, to an older person that always wanted to learn about music and takes it as a hobby. Still, both types are the kind of people that can almost be equals to the teachers in terms of life experience, this doesn’t mean the student can question the teacher, it means that in terms of communication they share a common ground through experience.

These are just some characteristics of eras in a person’s life that can be a soft general rule most of the times, and in a way it can help organize how music should be taught depending on the age of the students, and why it’s better not to mix it up too much when it comes to the ages of the students.

 

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“A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver,” Proverb 25:11. –Holy Bible

How true!

Here are 35 quotes in 5 categories to chew on, memorize, or frame for your music studio. Or if you’re like me, plaster them all over the house on sticky notes.

Some of them are good reminders. Others lift me up when I need it. They encourage me to be the best teacher of music students I can be. I enjoy others’ favorite quotes, or  ideas  about how to use them with students.

Your studio website is a great place to include a quote. Don’t have one? You get one when you use Music Teachers Helper!

Quotes to Facilitate Teaching

  1. “We’ve been given two ears and two eyes but only one tongue, so we should hear and see more than we speak.” –Greek proverb
  2. “I never teach anybody anything, I can only make them think.” –Socrates
  3. “I never teach my pupils. I only attempt to provide the conditions in which they can learn.” –Albert Einstein
  4. “The art of teaching is the art of assisting discovery.” –Mark VanDoren
  5. “Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.” –William Butler Yeats
  6. “The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires.” –William Ward
  7. “Spoon feeding, in the long run, teaches us nothing but the shape of the spoon.” –E. M. Forster
  8. “The greatest sign of success for a teacher…is to be able to say, ‘The children are now working as if I did not exist.’” –Maria Montessori
  9. “You can teach a student a lesson for a day; but if you can teach him to learn by creating curiosity, he will continue the learning process as long as he lives.” –Clay P. Bedford
  10. “What a child digs for becomes his own possession.” –Charlotte Mason
  11. “Teaching kids to count is fine, but teaching them what counts is best.” –Bob Talbert
  12. “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” –Aristotle
  13. “I’m not a teacher, but an awakener.” –Robert Frost
  14. “Speak less. Listen more. Ask more.” –Robin Steinweg

Quotes on Caring and Kindness

  1. “Be a little kinder than you have to.” –E. Lockhart
  2. “Never discourage anyone who continually makes progress, no matter how slow.” –Plato
  3. “Everything you don’t know is something you can learn.” –Anonymous
  4. “No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.” –Aesop
  5. “The best teachers teach from the heart, not from the book.” –Anonymous

Quotes of Inspiration and Art

  1. “A great work of art is made out of a combination of obedience and liberty.” –Nadia Boulanger
  2. “If you cannot teach me to fly, teach me to sing.” –Sir James Barrie
  3. “Music is not hard. Climbing Mount Everest is hard. Music merely makes you think.” –Patti Coxwell
  4. “Conflict resolution is only a half-step away.” –Anonymous
  5. “Music is the movement of sound to reach the soul for the education of its virtue.” –Plato

Quotes on Creativity

  1. “A painter paints on canvas. Musicians paint their pictures on silence.” –Leopold Stokowski
  2. “You can’t wait for inspiration, you have to go after it with a club.” –Jack London
  3. “Originality is nothing but judicious imitation.” –Voltaire (for more on this subject–Steal Like an Artist )
  4. “Do not let the endless succession of small things crowd great ideals out of sight and out of mind.” –Charlotte Mason
  5. “Think left and think right and think low and think high. Oh, the thinks you can think up if you only try!” –Dr. Seuss

Quotes to Help the Musician-in-Progress

  1. “It isn’t where you came from, it’s where you’re going that counts.” –Ella Fitzgerald
  2. “Lemonade comes from lemons. Take that mistake and make something brilliant of it!” –Robin Steinweg
  3. “Don’t let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do.” –John Wooden
  4. “Young people can learn from my example that something can come from nothing. What I have become is the result of my hard efforts.” –Franz Joseph Haydn
  5. “Patience, persistence and perspiration make an unbeatable combination for success.” –Napoleon Hill
  6. “Have no fear of perfection, you’ll never reach it.” –Salvadore Dali
  7. “Accentuate the positive.” –Harold Arlen
  8. “I’d far rather hear a student make music with mistakes than hear a perfect rendition of notes on a page.” –Robin Steinweg

What quotes inspire you? We’d love to hear them!

Music Teachers Helper

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Are your studio policies where you want them? Do you have policies?

If you run a school of music, a studio, or teach in your home, then you are a professional. You are an independent music instructor. A business person. You offer a vital service to your community. Your policies should reflect a level of respect for yourself as such. As a result, others will respect you. They will appreciate that your policies protect their interests as well.

How I came to believe in policies

I taught out of my home studio successfully for fourteen years with no written policies in place. I took a five-year break while my sons were young. When I started up again, it was with a greater need to help our family’s finances. I was surprised to find the landscape had changed. After-school activities had mushroomed, making the competition fierce for time and commitment. Parents or sitters taxied children from one activity to the next, barely having time to grab a bite to eat.

With increasing frequency, I’d wait for students who never showed. Sometimes I’d get a call earlier in the day. If we couldn’t find time to schedule a makeup lesson, I lost the income. The rare times we did reschedule, it always cut into our family time. How frustrating. I sent out notes asserting the importance of consistency. It did not help. My income was cut nearly in half!

One day as I waited for a talented young lady to arrive, her mother called, flustered.

“She has an extra dance rehearsal tonight, to prepare for the recital.” Then the mother flipped the switch that lit my understanding for good. “We really have to be there. We paid for all the lessons in advance, and there are no makeups.”

Wow. Why should I sit here in an empty studio while these other organizations, earning money from a few hundred students compared to my thirty, tapped my source of income?

I turned to other teachers online for counsel. In the process, I learned about running a business in a professional manner. This changed how I pictured and valued myself. I hadn’t given myself a raise in years. I was nervous about launching policies and a pay-raise, fearing I’d lose clients. But my fellow teachers encouraged and bolstered me.

I took a few months to sift through and study others’ policies. I chose the ones that fit me best. When I finally sent them out to families, holding my breath, the response was tremendous. Parents called to congratulate and thank me. They sent their registration fees and first tuition checks promptly. Only one backed out, and honestly, I think the family would not have continued anyway.

Benefits of instituting policies

Immediately and increasingly, my families and the community viewed me as a local studio as opposed to someone “who taught music to a few students.” If a child took lessons with me, it was something they could add to their portfolios with pride. Parents referred others to me. Many paid the full semester in advance, but some gratefully paid the tuition in four equal monthy installments. No more counting and billing one, two or five lessons in the month, every family different. Within a few months my waiting list grew. Gradually other teachers came to me for counsel.

I grew more serious about myself as an educator as a result of my policies. I attended more continuing education courses. I found ways to offer students more. I reviewed my past experiences as a musician, and included them in what I offered.

Now I teach knowing that if a student doesn’t show up, I’m covered. I don’t get bent out of shape with the family. But truthfully, they seldom miss a lesson anymore.

What items should policies cover?

Each private music instructor’s policies are as individual as fingerprints. So I encourage you to do your homework. Read others’ policies. If you associate with teachers who don’t post theirs publicly, ask to see them. Private music teachers are, by and large, a giving bunch, willing to offer a hand up. If you worry that parents will feel your policies are too strict, this might help.

Here’s what I include 

What I offer in lessons

I place this near the front, because it illustrates what makes me unique among my local colleagues. I always start with a mention of the lifelong benefits of music instruction. Then I tell them what lessons with Steinweg Studio of Music will include.

Tuition concerns

I explain that students enroll in a course of study similar to a school, with a semester tuition as opposed to a per-hour rate. The tuition ensures that their lesson time is reserved for them each week.

In addition to regularly scheduled weekly lessons, they have opportunities to attend at least two Master Classes per semester, and to perform in one recital per semester. Other performing opportunities may arise but are also not mandatory.

There is no credit for missed lessons. However, I offer a swap list to make it easier to switch lesson times with other students if conflicts arise. I ask them to try to avoid scheduling other appointments during their lesson time. If a true emergency or contagious sickness arises, they can be put on a 3-week cancellation list. If someone cancels during those weeks, they will have opportunity to take that time.

Payment Options

By giving families options, fewer feel excluded, even if my rates are higher than some in my town. They have seen that I offer more than many others.

I teach 30, 45 and 60-minute lessons. I reserve the final say as to whether students are ready for longer lessons. I wouldn’t want to end up babysitting a 5-year-old student with a 5-minute attention span for a full hour. Students can pay the full semester of x lessons per semester in advance, or make four equal monthly installments. Tuition is due no later than the s

econd scheduled lesson of the semester. Payment after that point will include a 10% per week late fee.

You can decide whether to accept cash or check. Alternatively, if you have an online bookkeeping service such as Music Teachers Helper, families can pay online. They can also be sent email reminders of scheduled lessons or recitals, birthday greetings, and so much more.

Using Music Teachers Helper means families can pay online.

Registration fee

I debated long about whether to charge an additional fee and how much. After I added up the amount I spent on extra items, I realized I wasn’t earning anywhere near what I hoped. I list some of these extras in my policies so families can  see how reasonable it is.

I have raised the fee a couple of times, and am considering raising it again this year. I make sure that if I do, I provide added value for the student in some way.

This fee is once per school year per student. This is the only time I give a discount for more than one student in a family, since it’s partly to cover bookkeeping, and I do that by family. The fee is due along with the first tuition payment. It remains the same whether or not they start lessons in September.

I explain that it is a nonrefundable fee to help defray the cost of such studio expenses as legal photocopies, Master Class materials, computer software, incentives, instrument maintenance, bookkeeping, recital programs, refreshments and supplies, travel and/or time spent searching for music and materials.

Next month’s policy article, Part II

Next month here on the Music Teacher’s Helper blog I’ll discuss such things as makeup lessons, practice expectations, swap lists, communication and creating registration forms.

If you have further questions or would like to share how you handle your teaching policies, I welcome your comments.

Our policies can provide protection and relief for all concerned.

Happy teaching!

 

 

 

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