Music Teacher's Helper Blog

Creating & Updating Student Files

Keeping good records of your students is imperative for good communication, and for continued growth in musical study.  Here is a checklist of things I keep on file for each student, from the first lesson and beyond:

Personal Data

Detailed information on each student is essential. Gather this data at the interview or online via the “Register” website feature on MTH, rather than at the first lesson.  Parents and students will appreciate your not taking teaching time for administrative details.

You will need the student’s name, address, and phone number. Other items you might wish to note:

  • Student’s nickname
  • Birthday
  • Date of studio enrollment and age at enrollment
  • School name, school grade, time school begins and ends (update times annually)
  • Parents’ full names/daytime phone numbers/occupations/ married or separated
  • Emergency contact person and phone number
  • Names and ages of siblings
  • Whether anyone else in the family plays a musical instrument, which one, at what level
  • Music ensembles participating in (choirs, orchestras, etc.)
  • Name of last teacher, or information on previous instrument instruction

MTH is an excellent student database, and I include much of this information in my studio accounts.  However, I do keep a manila file with this information for each student just to have a hard copy.

Devise a student audition process and an audition sheet. (Or take notes on the reverse of the student data sheet.)  Include this sheet in your student file.

Repertoire Data

Another type of data you’ll need is the student’s repertoire. Such a reference tool will be wonderfully convenient when the student transfers from your studio or applies to summer music camps, for scholarships, to college, etc. Again, database software will make this record-keeping task easy, and data can be sorted any way you wish. If you don’t want to do it by computer, I use an Excel spreadsheet to organize repertoire learned by year.

Typically, a high school student will study and perform 3-6 pieces a semester in my studio.  I divide the Excel columns into year and term studied, name of piece, composer, whether the piece was memorized, performed for recital or competition, and any comments I have from their performance on this piece.

For method materials, listing the titles of the vocalizes they have learned from the many etude books (Vaccai, Marcchesi, etc.)

I print a copy of each Excel file for a hard copy in each student’s file.

Other Student Data

Depending on your program, you also may have music essays written by the student, competition/evaluation/adjudication reports, etc. to file away. If you write a letter of recommendation for a student, save a copy and put it in the student’s file, too. Also include a copy of transfer materials you write on the student and those you receive from the previous teacher.

When the student leaves, cull their file. You may need to keep no more than the transfer materials you prepared when they left your tutelage.

As we near the end of the spring term, this is a good chance to organize what each student has done, update their file, and plan for the coming summer or fall with new goals, new repertoire, and possible audition plans for the following summer or fall.

Happy spring cleaning!

About the Author

Sarah Luebke
Nebraska native Sarah Luebke completed her MM in vocal performance at the University of Kentucky, and her BM in vocal performance at St. Olaf College. Recently she has been seen performing the female lead, Jane McDowell, in "The Stephen Foster Story" and the ensemble of "Big River" with Stephen Foster Productions. Other performances include the soprano soloist of Bach's St. John Passion, La Fee ... [Read more]

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