We discussed in a previous article the importance of setting guidelines for lessons and learning. Having a clearly defined list of what is expected from both teacher and pupil will ensure that many common issues are avoided. The earlier this can be done in the relationship between teacher and pupil the better – however it is even worth introducing these at a later date as it will help readjust expectations and focus.
These 13 guidelines fall into 2 categories, commitments that the teacher will make to students and commitments students will make to the teacher.
General terms from the teacher.
1. Lesson schedule. The teacher should state how many lessons they will give over the course of a term/year, when these lessons will be given and the dates and time when they will teach. The teacher should also make clear the times they will not be teaching and also any other commitments (such as performing) which may impact the lesson schedule. A note about lesson length is also appropriate perhaps highlighting the difference for beginning and advanced students.
2. Payment. Details about lesson fees, billing and invoicing should be included here. How many lessons are billed at a time and when payment is expected should also be detailed.
3. Cancellation. Inevitably lessons will get cancelled both by teacher and student. Notice periods for both teacher and student and financial implications need to be made clear.
4. Location. Detail of the venue and facilities should be stated. Any changes to this venue should have an appropriate notice period.
5. Theory/Aural Training. Some teachers will include theory and aural training as part of lessons whilst others will give seperate lessons to cover these areas. Either way this should be made clear to avoid future confusion.
6. Additional Lessons. Occasionally students will need additional lessons to prepare for exams, performances and auditions. Terms under which these lessons are given should be stated.
7. Accompaniment. How this is provided and charged needs to be stated.
8. Exam Entry. This is the place for the teacher to outline their approach to exams. How and when they do entries, how they manage the finances and at what stage they will enter a student for an exam.
Commitments agreed to by the student.
9. Be prepared for lessons. It is important that students arrive on time so that lessons can start promptly. Students should also make sure they have all the music, creams, accessories and instruments needed for the lesson.
10. Maintain your instrument. The student should commit to keeping their instrument in good playable order.
11. Keep the teacher abreast of what you are doing. Students should tell their teacher about any performances or events in which they are playing. Telling the teacher the lesson before is not good enough.
12. Take a wider interest. By learning a musical instrument the student should also commit to broadening their learning to many musical instruments.
13. Practice. Last and perhaps most importantly the student should formally agree that they will practise.
The above guidelines are meant to help teachers, parents and pupils and to ensure that there are no misunderstandings about what each party is commiting to. They should be flexible enough to meet each students and teachers circumstances but clear enough to prevent future misunderstandings.
In a future article we will provide a sample set of guidelines.
Do you or your teacher have a set of guidelines? Do you agree with ours or perhaps disagree? Let us know what you think in the comments below.