Scheduling, Fees and No Coach
Lynn S., Illinois
I received a call about teaching Simply Music at a school that’s 45 minutes away, and had a few questions if this would even work.
Two of the students moved here from Australia and loved learning piano through the Simply Music method. Their traditional piano teacher is no longer there.
The school is used to charging a flat amount per semester (instead of a monthly fee), and the parents traditionally never accompanied the children for their lessons. When I briefly explained the framework and the cost per student, the administrator seemed a bit taken aback. She said the lessons seemed expensive, and didn’t know if the parents would stay. I don’t think the school wants to work out an arrangement that I described.
Perhaps Missy Murphy may want to teach the children by Skype, and then they don’t have to go through the school system. What to you think? I’m just at the beginning level, and would not be ready to teach the Australian children at this point into their next level.
Please let me know your thoughts. Has anyone taught through the schools and found it feasible? What did you charge – a flat amount per semester? Did the parents attend?
Robin Keehn, Washington
I want to address the idea of teaching in a school setting. As you know, there are three components absolutely critical to the successful delivery of Simply Music and they are: a trained and licensed teacher, a willing student, and an active and participating coach who attends each week with the student.
In a typical school setting, the missing component is the participation of the parent/coach. Without the coach, the student will not be able to maintain the long term relationship that learning to play the piano requires. In lessons the coach is regularly exposed to the conversation about the experience of peaks, valleys and plateaus in the long term relationship. When the student arrives at the inevitable valley or plateau, the coach is prepared for it. The coach also sees the value of what is being taught and is much more likely to protect the student’s practice time at home. Without the coach, there is limited support, even with the best SM teacher.
The other issue is that of payment. Schools have to be prepared to pay the Education Fee and for Student Home Materials and tuition. For some schools this is not a concern but it does need to be discussed. Each student is required to have a set of SHM….students cannot share nor can schools retain the SHM for next year’s students.
We would love to find a successful way to offer SM in schools. We are open to discussing ideas anyone has about developing a model that addresses the issues so that students really do have an opportunity to have music as a lifelong companion.
Lynn S., Illinois
Thanks for sharing your feedback on teaching in a school. I’m wondering if anyone else has taught in a school using the Simply Music method.
I did speak to the administrator about the requirement of having a parent present, needing the materials and the Education Fee. From the conversation, I don’t think she was willing/interested to go along with the requirements. The parents are used to picking the kids up after the lesson. Also, I believe the charges were substantially less. So – if anyone else has taught in a school with Simply Music, I’d love to hear how they have done.
Andrea B. Canada
I did a Workshop in a school. I communicated with the parents through letters, but I must say it was not easy without the parents and I would not do it again… Unless perhaps I had an Into session with the parents prior because I don’t even know if they read the letters.
I have considered going to the school to ask about teaching with the parents present but have not done so yet. Good luck! Let us know how it works out!
Francine V., Australia
I am teaching Simply Music in a primary school. I’m very lucky to have what I do, though, I think. The school advertised a position in the paper for a piano teacher. I was lucky enough to be the one they chose. I made sure all the parents came to an intro session before I started the first class, of which I held at the school.
The school doesn’t charge anything for me to teach there, and they don’t want to get involved with HOW I teach. All the accounts are done with the parents directly, the school does not want to get
involved with accounts either. The parents all purchased their SHMs.
All the school wants is that the kids and parents have the opportunity to learn the piano available to them at school, without getting involved with anything.
I have encouraged the parents to stay for lessons, and the principal is ok with this. Some parents do stay, most don’t, but I ALWAYS email the parents after each class to let them know what we did and what they need to do for the week. The parents appreciate the emails, and some have wondered why the music teachers for their other children don’t do the same.
It took a while to start, once I had numbers. The scheduling part was very difficult, trying to put same aged kids together, and fitting in with their days, but it’s all clicking into place.
As I said, I think I’m very lucky that I got into a school like that. So it CAN be done!!!
Fiona H., Australia
I’m in Australia, and like many others I teach in a school during school hours, I charge the parents directly, they pay into my bank account, some parents come to lessons randomly when they can, and I keep in touch with all parents via email/txt as I live in an area which is quite tech savvy and where parents work full time, and they appreciate that they have access to piano – particularly Simply Music through me.
I am new at this – there are other very well-respected SM teachers who teach in schools who can speak more authoritatively on the subject. For me though, I haven’t seen less progress than at home with my other students who have parents in the lessons, so I am happy with my systems and processes that I have put in place. I do put effort into liaising with parents and I write a short observation of each student at the end of the day’s lessons for my own records. I have done this so I can give instant feedback to parents whenever needed and so I can keep an eye on any ‘trends’ in concentration etc from week to week – this is all my own doing.
I know some schools charge teachers a venue hiring fee. The situation may be very different in US in regard to payment etc, however I took the advice initially in head office to not teach in schools, and established my at home studio. I love both studios, but my at home one makes me work hours I would rather not with my young children but now I have established a name and a bit wait list it seems my at home one is now part of my life – I wish I had taken the step to work out the school thing a lot earlier in the piece, I too was offered the chance to teach during school hours at a different local school but I turned it down as I followed the full ‘rules’ for Simply Music.
But this year I took on a new school – I pursued it actively, asked for help from other teachers who have successfully done this and set it up liaising with teachers/principal/business manager, I advertised for a full school term (14 wks) before starting, and did a group foundation session with available students/parents before I started lessons. This setup phase was all unpaid, but was worth it as I started 21 new students at the same time, teaching during school hours over 2 days – my ideal working hours. Now the way I work for those 2 days suits me to a tee and student results as I said before are just the same. I bought my own cupboard that I lock and my own printer and set up my own wireless network that I can use when I am at school, it all packs away at the end of the day.
My advice? If you want to teach in schools, just think about what communication methods you need to put in place that suit your demographics and parents – the structure of how you send home piano homework, how you conduct the lessons, how many you need to teach to make it worth it, your comfort level with group size, the facilities available, payment arrangements. You will have your own answers – they probably won’t be found on Simpedia. I am a pioneering spirit in personality, and teaching in schools is not new – but was new for me this year. I firmly believe that if any person really wants something (like really wanting to play piano), then the effort to make it happen will be worth it – where there’s a will, there’s a way.