For the last few years I’ve been teaching a number of high school and middle school students. On the whole it is very rewarding, and I really enjoy getting to work with younger students. Not surprisingly, my number of private students is at its largest in the few weeks preceding honor band or All-State auditions. I understand the reasons for this, though I think private lessons are far more effective when taken regularly over an extended period of time. This time gives the instructor and student a chance to put together an individualized method of study consisting of appropriate etudes, scale/arpeggio studies, solos, and other materials. A few lessons just before an audition to “spot-check” some things is fine, but it can’t really compare to months and years of consistent study. The bottom line is that serious students take lessons whether they’ve got an audition coming up or not.
Beginning this semester, I plan to distribute the following document to my new and returning private students. My goal was to provide a one page summary of the private lesson experience (as I view it) for parents and students. Often parents don’t really understand what it is they are paying for each week, and are simply told by their children that the teacher said to “go home and practice.” The document is worded in a general way on purpose, so that it can be adapted to fit the needs of individual students. For instance, the “20 to 30 minutes” of daily practice can of course be expanded as a student progresses. I have been using most of these policies for a while now, but I thought it a good idea to put them in writing.
Now a question to my readers: Do you use any kind of syllabus or guidelines for your private (non-university) students? If so, what do you include in it? Do you think such a document is even necessary?
Dear Parent or Guardian:
I am delighted to be teaching your child private horn lessons. One-on-one instruction is an extremely effective way to learn a musical instrument, and is part of a tradition that is hundreds of years old. Learning to play an instrument develops critical thinking and problem solving skills, which can be applied to virtually any career or academic pursuit. My philosophy of teaching places the student’s well being and musical development above all else, and I care deeply about what I do. In an effort to offer the highest quality instruction possible, and to ensure that my students both enjoy and learn from their lesson experiences, I have put together the following list of guidelines. Please read over this list with your child, and sign the brief memorandum of understanding at the bottom. Two copies are provided so that you may retain a copy for your records. If you have any questions about this document or private lessons in general please do not hesitate to contact me.
James Boldin, D.M.A.
- For private lessons to be effective, students must be dedicated to daily practice. Without at least 20 to 30 minutes of individual practice each day, students will not be able to successfully implement the concepts presented in a weekly private lesson. Lessons alone may result in little to no improvement without additional work on the student’s part.
- Required lesson materials include a functional horn and mouthpiece, as well as study materials such as etude and method books, solo literature, and ensemble music. I will make individual recommendations for these materials based on the student’s current ability level and musical goals. A metronome and tuner are also highly recommended. Both devices can be purchased at reasonable prices from online retailers or local music stores. There are also numerous smartphone apps which work quite well.
- In the event that a lesson needs to be postponed or rescheduled, I will notify the student and/or parent as soon as possible. Please extend me the same courtesy. I can be reached by email (email@example.com), office phone (318-342-1591), or cell phone (###-###-####).
- Fees for private instruction are as follows: $##/hour; $##/half-hour. Payment is due at the end of each lesson.
- I will occasionally loan materials to students, including audio recordings, mouthpieces, music, and other related items. Please treat these items with care, and return them promptly so that future students can learn from them as well.
- If you or your child have any questions or concerns about private lessons please feel free to contact me. Parents are encouraged to observe lessons occasionally so that they remain informed and updated on their child’s progress.
I have read and understand the above guidelines for private horn instruction.
Signature of Parent/Guardian
Signature of Student