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Making the Switch

Making the Switch

Making the Switch

Students and parents can make a musical switch.

Switching to Music Notes

Switching to Music Notes is easier than you think. Students transfer to Music Notes Academy quite often. If I’m honest, most phone calls, emails and website inquiries are from parents that want to leave their current music school or private teacher. They’re looking for a change.

Tuition

Here’s where parents sometimes become perplexed. Many private teachers and music schools charge very little for teaching music, because they’re likely illegitimate and unqualified. They bottom feed – or dollar-store price their service – to hopefully easily enroll parents. Further, they’re likely not a school of music and fine arts. The teachers are likely not qualified to teach music thoroughly and comprehensively.

I’ve mentioned this in other posts within this website, that NJ law requires teachers to be employees. Yet time and time again, as I’m actively interviewing teachers (we desperately need more qualified teachers here, we have a waiting list of students) I’m told during interviews that other schools are offering a bit more money per hour. That they can be an independent contractor at said music school. Keeping this short and simple – and to not drive myself crazy, or you – this is the driving cost that makes tuition what it is. After paying a qualified teacher by the hour as an employee, then paying their employer payroll taxes, liability insurance, worker’s compensation insurance, payroll processing, direct deposit fees, etc… it all adds up quickly. Tuition becomes what it is because of this single requirement and NJ law.

I can often feel the parent’s surprise, through their silence on the phone once I mention tuition or our options for enrollment. The commitment required to be a Music Notes Academy student and parent is either by semester or by the school year. $249 a month for 45-mins of private instruction, once a week with master-degree level teacher still seems like a lot for some parents. It’s only about the price, not what the price includes for many parents. This is one to one instruction with a de-greed music teacher. The student receives all the instructional time.

Commitments

To retain the very best teachers they need a commitment. Why would anyone great, who’s de-greed, dedicated and qualified want to work at a school that has inconsistent employment? We give our teachers a commitment and parents need to make a commitment. This also shows students, what making a true commitment means.

Much of this comes back to where Music Notes began in ’00. Before the ’13-’14 school year, students and parents had a different mindset for music learning and music education. This was also before many students had smartphones and tablets. Between ’00 and ’13 (roughly speaking) parents seemed to talk with one another. We kept growing as a music school because of referrals and word of mouth. Many people do not likely know, but I really had no intentions of owning a music school school before ’06. When I began teaching it was by accident. A parent asked me to teach her son drums. I was dedicated to my students and planned for the private instruction classes and lessons because I felt responsible, towards my students’ education. Parents were appreciative, supportive and kept the referrals coming without ever asking for them.

What am I saying here? That with all the requirements NJ has regarding employment and structure for legitimacy, what we’re doing here is still the same as it was in the beginning. Students and parents have to be committed, just like the teachers. The benefit here with Music Notes is the collaboration and collaborative effort among de-greed teachers with similar levels of education and dedication to the musical arts. What we’re doing here is not easy, it never was.

The Process for Switching

If a student and parent is going to make the commitment to Music Notes then the process for switching begins.

We typically start with the following:

  • Ask students to often briefly perform their latest or most memorized music
  • Sometimes require a trial class first
  • Spend one to three classes assessing transfer students
  • Aim to transition students smoothly and understand what a student has learned thus far

Learning at a legitimate music school offers students structure and accountability. De-greed teachers, level oriented instruction, performances, assessments, exams and audition prep are all available in addition to the classes and lessons. Students and parents can make the musical switch. It just requires a commitment to do so.

Yes, we know the light switch is backwards in the image above.

Founder of Music Notes Academy, a '12 NJSBDC award-winning community music school in East Brunswick, NJ. A teacher of music since '00, with degrees in music and education, specializing in curriculum and instruction.

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