The success of a music school is quite something. Music Notes Academy started in 2000 with our Director teaching percussion in the students’ homes. In the early days of Music Notes, our students and parents spread the good word. Referrals were a normal occurrence. We didn’t ask for referrals, parents simply passed along our contact info and Music Notes Academy continued to the point of having to add on additional teachers.
Most students from 2000 through 2012, give or take, stayed with music on a long-term basis. Once students started, they kept going. Students had CDs in their house, remember those things? Drum students would have a stack of CDs next to their drum set, had headphones and listened to music. Students were interested in music, had questions about what they were listening to, were knowledgeable of bands and artists and were not overly booked in other extra-curricular activities.
We are in an industry that has two customers for every sale – the student taking the service and the parent paying for it. This can be a problem when the support system or structure is broken. If the student is not motivated to play music or improve or the parent is not supportive of what the music teacher is recommending, then the process for learning and playing a musical instrument is not going to be a pleasant one.
Most music teachers would agree, the good ones anyway, that we can only be so much of a salesperson, motivator and weekly inspirational buddy for music students. Just like with regular school, students have to eventually settle in and do something academic, or in our case musical. We are not miracle workers and parents need to understand this and be a supportive arm for teachers of all subjects, to help keep students learn and continue to move forward.
The success of a music school ultimately comes together with the students, supportive parents and teachers doing their part as a collective unit.
Music schools, or the good music schools, are going to require their students to practice and play their instrument during the week in between the instructional class or private lesson. This is good and should be standard procedure. Music instruction and music lessons may be the ONLY extra-curricular activity that requires work or practice in between the activity itself. Students that do not do their part and practice during the week are then arriving to their next class or lesson unprepared, which ultimately upsets the teacher. We want to teach music and play music with our students, not babysit and constantly review due to a lack of practice on the student’s part. The constant encouragement to practice or practice better for the following week can and does upset the parent, because they realize they’re paying for a class or lesson that involved review content. Why should they continue paying for lessons if their son or daughter is not going to practice? So, the success of what we’re doing as music teachers and a school of music is based upon a collaborative effort of all parties involved – the student, teacher and parents.
If the parent gives up, the process is broken.
If the student gives up, the process is broken.
If the teacher gives up, the process is broken.
We know and are aware that every student is different, has different goals, learning styles, etc… We understand all of this and more. However, what we’ve been seeing here in the last couple of years is students and parents quickly giving up. Or, starting and then stopping, then seeking to return months later. In those months of absence, the students are not practicing or performing, so we are most likely starting from the near beginning.
Many students and parents don’t seem to understand the process of learning and playing a musical instrument and also don’t care to try and learn more about this process. They want a quick fix or a quick result. We get asked all the time, regarding what a child will be able to play in 8 weeks of lessons. Being proficient with playing a musical instrument is not going to happen in a 8-week module.
Part of what makes Music Notes Academy a successful music school is that we continue to preach to the choir on these topics and more. We continue to talk with our students and parents regarding this process, so they understand how to make the most of their music education and time with us. We utilize two great books here, to help students and parents stay organized and motivated with their music and studies.
We understand everyone is busy. So are we. We have busy lives too. Some say musicians are the most hardworking people around. We are consistently practicing our own instruments, working on our own professional development and trying to keep a fresh approach for our students. We also have to earn a living, like everyone else. If music schools are going to be successful, it’s going to always come down the three components – the student, parent and teacher. Yes, there are music schools that are poorly managed and employ under qualified teachers. Music Notes Academy is not one of them. Wherever you go for your music instruction and education, make sure you at least know the three components so you or your child can have the opportunity to be successful.