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Music parents and make-up lessons
Each school year, around this time, parents become fixated on receiving a “make-up lesson” or “make-up class” for an absence earlier in the school year. We understand their position, they want their lesson that they paid for and missed. Music parents do not understand our position, or care to understand. This is one of the frustrating parts of make-up lessons.
Before I jump onto the our highway here, do you receive a credit or refund on your car lease or finance payment, mortgage, cable bill or any other monthly service or payment that you subscribe to, if you don’t use that item or service in a given month?
In 2013, then as an award-winning NJSBDC music school, we decided enough was enough with make-up lessons. In 2012, we were nominated and won a small business excellence award. It was humbling, gratifying and a turning point for Music Notes Academy. We had been teaching music since 2000 and we gave it a good twelve years of make-up lesson accommodations for music parents and adult music students. It simply was not working. No matter how accommodating we were for music parents and students it was never good enough or a pleasant process. At one point we had two administrators working with us, primarily as schedulers for make-up lessons.
We developed backbeat Make-Up Classes. Our new make-up classes would allow for music parents to select a class (right on this website) and have their music student attend a music class with other Music Notes students. Based upon the students enrolled for a particular class, we would design and prepare appropriate class content for those attending students. Examples of backbeat make-up classes are – music theory, simple songwriting, drum circles and rhythm classes, performance classes, student assessments and evaluations, sight-reading, ear training, introduction to music technology and more. Students always enjoy the make-up classes. They have a chance to meet other Music Notes students they would normally never meet at the Academy.
Music parents may want to place more focus on what their music student is doing in between their private music lessons, compared to simply getting an extra lesson because of an absence. Parents will get more bang for their buck if their son or daughter was regularly prepared and ready for their music lesson or class each week. Students that are practicing at home correctly, attending regular music lessons and arriving for their lesson prepared will always perform better as student musicians. This will allow for moving forward in their learning and then succeed as music performers. Missing lessons and then aiming to schedule them all in at the end of a school year serves little purpose for anyone, especially students. At Music Notes Academy, we utilize our Learn Today, Play Tomorrow® Student Assignment Book. This great book allows for us, students and parents to stay organized, see the musical goals for the week and remain motivated towards success. Using this book weekly will provide far more value educationally speaking, versus having the extra lesson because a soccer game was rescheduled…
Why Don’t We Offer Make-Up Lessons
Because how can a full music school really do it? Please, tell us. We will entertain any ideas. We’ve asked parents throughout the years. We get funny looks and silence. According to NJ employment laws, music teachers teaching inside a brick and mortar building have to be employees. Do you work? Would you go to work on a Monday and then are told that you cannot work from 1-2p m today because there is no work for you? But you have to stay late now, because at 7 pm you’ll have work to do then. Would you commit to an employment position where the hours were uncertain, fragmented or frequently changing? Think about how little tuition is being paid for private instruction and then think about how it’s even possible to cancel, reschedule and then expect another lesson. When a student is absent at Music Notes Academy the teachers are still being paid. This is the way it should be and has to be. If you’re attending a music school that offers unlimited make-up lessons, please be very cautious.
We understand that life happens. Circumstances change for students and families. We are not insensitive to life. However, when music parents claim they are committed to their child’s musical success and then as an example, schedule another activity – like sports, dance, gymnastics, chess club, boy scouts, girl scouts, swimming, tutoring, chess club, etc… – and then miss 6 weeks of music lessons because the schedules do not align, what are we supposed to do? A music student will not benefit from cramming in six make-up lessons over a month’s time because another activity has now finished. Further, any music school that is legitimate and successful will not have this kind of availability to begin with.
Music parents, students and people as a society seem to be moving fast and dangerously towards a “I need it now”, “I’m not committing to this” and “This is too difficult” mentality. Learning a musical instrument is none of this. It takes time, commitment and is difficult. Use common sense and be smart. Learn. Take some pride in working on something and seeing it develop. Understand that missing a scheduled class or lesson is an item that cannot be returned or resold again. Be embarrassed by your absence or apologize for being absent. Please do not act like we owe you something more now. Talk with us at Music Notes. We can give you many more examples on why make-up lessons do not work, why we do what we do so well and why certain procedures in music education for music schools are what they are for several reasons.
This is all I can write for now. As during the writing of this, a student did not show up for a scheduled lesson today. Now it’s time to teach my next student. But see, I used my time wisely. Hopefully this is some insight for music parents and make-up lessons.