music teacher

On Surviving September

Ahhhhhh! Where did September go? The students and I are back into the swing of things. The days are long. I typically begin teaching at 3:30 and go till 9 pm. I do have a few day students on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. I've even managed to stay on top of reshelving the books used each day and getting some regular practicing in. My former teacher would be pleased that I've pulled out some senior repertoire to muck around with (mixed in with some jazz, improvising and JPop of course). With more intermediate and senior students this year, I need to stay on top of things.

Now if only I could get in the swing of things with my paperwork. I'm behind on my bookkeeping (surprise, surprise) and other admin related work.

I am so excited to have such a great bunch of students this year. Actually, I should say "families" since being able to have a good relationship with the family is fundamental to making the year go well. For the most part, the students are doing well with their practice journals, although a few haven't been keeping track as well as I'd like (or practicing as much as their parents and I would like them to). Overall though, the practice journals seem to be working. The kids are using the forms to ask insightful questions, share what they enjoyed most out of their homework and alert me to what they need help with.

Even Maestro is maturing into his role as "canine teaching assistant". He rests quietly in his "room" (his kennel) most of the time and hasn't tried to steal any stickers. Prizes though, are another story. He bonked his head on the prize drawer a couple of times while trying to steal a peek.

A few students have simply blown me away with their compositions. A few were inspired by a tune they heard, while others have come up with something unlike anything I've heard before.

Students, parents and fellow teachers, feel free to share your feelings on your year so far. As for me, I better go practice...

(c) 2006 by Musespeak(tm), Calgary, AB, Canada. All rights reserved.

Summertime for Music Teachers

Most students take the summer off from music lessons. Only a small handful commit to summer lessons (to prepare for a summer exam, personal interest/motivation or parental interest/motivation). For example, I'm going from 40 students in the school year to about five for July. Where does that leave the private music teacher come summertime? Some teachers are able to take the entire summer off. From what I can tell, it's those who have a growing brood of children and a husband with a steady income and/or an established studio with no or little business debt. These folk are able to put away some money throughout the school year.

On the other hand, teachers with a relatively young studio, who have bought a house, got married and/or started a family recently do not have that luxury. Nor do teachers who wracked up some debt before starting a business (and just continued to add to it) or those who are married to someone who's also self-employed. For those of us in this category, there are but two options - run up the lines of credit a bit more (IF there's room) or get a job.

I had a wonderful interview with a temporary office staffing agency this week called . A friend recommended it to me (her husband is the website guy). Part of me is cringing at the thought of re-entering the corporate world but another part of me is looking forward to doing something different. Give me some data entry, where I don't have to think too hard. Surround me with adults all day for a change. That's fine by me. I like my students but a change in environment is refreshing.

It'll be different from being an employee. Temps can avoid office politics, don't stay in one place too long and aren't usually given a lot of responsibility.

The change of scenery will be good. (c) 2006 by Musespeak(tm), Calgary, AB, Canada. All rights reserved.

Piano Paperwork Musings

This past weekend, Maestro and I processed all the student registrations submitted during the Early Registration period. Maestro lounged on his bed as I inputted the student's registration information into my teaching schedule, Palm Pilot, e-mail groups, birthday lists, my website administration site and Quickbooks.Quickbooks and my Palm Pilot are already programmed to enter the monthly invoices (Quickbooks) or beep before each piano lesson next year (Palm Pilot). Maestro would shoot up out of bed as soon as he heard the stapler, paper slicer and hole punch - all of which he guards zealously. He vascillated from watching my every move intently to make sure I use all tools properly, to lunging for them. The latter leads to him being hip-checked. Why he thinks they are toys is beyond me.

(c) 2006 by Musespeak(tm), Calgary, AB Canada. All rights reserved.

Making Music with the Right Teacher

Next to fall registrations, people like to register for music lessons around Christmastime. If you are planning to start lessons next month or in the new year, consider the following:

  • Family Commitment: Students and their families need to commit to regular lessons, practicing and performing
  • Lesson venue: Music school, private music teacher or in-home instruction
  • Teacher Qualifications: Student-teacher, professionally accredited or non-accredited

Here is a checklist to aid in your teacher selection:

  1. Talk to your family, friends and colleagues
  2. Check Teacher Association Directories: Alberta Registered Music Teachers’ Association (ARMTA), Alberta Piano Teachers’ Association (APTA), National Association for Teachers of Singing (NATS) and the Alberta String Association (ASA), Canadian Federation of Music Teachers' Associations (CFMTA), Music Teacher National Association (MTNA).
  3. Ask music store staff for names of teachers
  4. Conduct a preliminary phone interview
  5. Conduct face-to-face interview/audition
  6. Decision time


Please refer to the links on the right-side of this page to find out more about the music teacher associations or my website's link page.

Tuition varies depending upon the teachers’ educational and performance background, professional affiliations, track record, teaching experience and how their studio is set up. Good chemistry with the teacher, qualifications, high quality education and complementary vision should rate more highly than cost in your final decision.

After the interview/audition, the also teacher considers whether the student and family are a good fit for his or her studio.

Here’s to many years of merry music making once the choice has been made. © 2005, Musespeak™, Calgary, Alberta, Canada. All rights reserved.