Acquiring students from other teachers
Carol Z., Ohio
I have the wonderful opportunity to expand my studio by taking on someone else’s students. While it’s a bit intimidating to me as a newer teacher (1 1/2 years), I look forward to the challenge. The good news is that I’m licensed in the levels required, but I do need to brush up on some of the special programs.
My question at this time is about terminology used. The previous teacher used some different terms and arrangement song names than what I use – i.e. she uses the “old playlist” while I use the Playlist Management program. I would like to use my own song names and terms in order to remain consistent in my teaching. While I am in no way criticizing the teacher’s “word use”, I’m just wondering what other teachers have done in this situation. I want to make the transition as smooth as possible for me and the students.
My plan is to spend the first couple of weeks mainly reviewing to see where they are, have some conversations and introduce some small new things as well. Any other thoughts about taking on students in this way is appreciated!
Mark M., New York
I’ve had a number of students come to me for online lessons after being in various situations where they’d become unable to continue studying in person with a previous SM teacher.
I’ve had little issue with differences in terminology for Arrangements. I don’t use the Playlist Management program, but even those transferring students who hadn’t used it either knew the songs by names different from “mine,” names their previous teacher used. It’s just something you all get used to easily enough.
I used to make a point of doing a full repertoire review before doing anything new, though more recently I’ve tried to strike a balance, moving some new things along while keeping a repertoire review humming as well. I think the balance is a good idea, but I’ve also become mindful not to let the initial repertoire review drag on too long. It’s very tempting once you start new things to just keep them going, but it is important to complete the repertoire view.
The main issue I’ve had with transferring students isn’t about names of pieces but about pacing of the streams. As I’ve discussed elsewhere, I’m in the “camp” of teachers who prefers to wring lots of potential out of all the streams, which necessarily means moving through Foundation at a slower pace than one otherwise might. Most of my transferring students came to me with what I consider to be less experience in some/most/all of the special streams compared to where they were in Foundation when they transferred to me. I find all this out before they enroll and tell them about these differences in teaching approaches without making their previous teacher wrong, but making clear that if they come to me than can expect me to put Foundation work on the back burner with them for a while, focusing on other streams as appropriate to achieve more of a balance in their experience before we then have a balance of all streams as we continue to move forward. In each case, they’ve always been on board with this approach before enrolling. In most cases, they remain on board once they actually start lessons, though in some cases the reality of achieving that new balance can be a bit of “culture shock” for some students, and it can be a little bumpy. But I do believe in the approach, and I do stick by it, and those who stick with me through it do come out stronger on the other side.
Depending on how your approach compares to that of individual previous SM teachers you may be getting students from, you may or may not have such issues, but it’s at least something to ponder.
Anne S., Nebraska
I think that people will be open to the fact that your teaching method will not be exactly the same as the previous one’s, because no two people are alike and therefore their approaches will vary somewhat. It’s pretty common for teachers to use different names for the arrangements, and if you explain that matter-of-factly right off the bat, I wouldn’t anticipate any problems at all.
Actually, explaining any issue in a matter-of-fact way goes a long way toward putting people at ease and being confident in your teaching. As you know.