After teaching private violin lessons for 5 years now, (It’s been 5 years!?!), I have learned more about time management within a lesson. This is my second blog post in my ‘Studio Sense’ blog series. To read the first article, click this link HERE. I hope to bring some helpful information to aspiring private music instructors, or even those of you interested in learning about what teaching private lessons is like. I know….it’s riveting stuff guys. ; ) This blog is very very general. I could probably write an entire book on time management techniques and what/how I utilize teaching time and why. Frankly, there are probably many books on this subject. So enjoy this surface level look at time management and some of my thoughts.
Time Management Within A Lesson:
For my teaching style I have been sticking to 30min, 45min, and 1 hour lessons. I like to correlate the length of a lesson to the age and/or level of each student. I have taught violin lessons to the following age range: 3 years old – adult. I’ve experienced a lot of different ages & I love the variety of that. I teach beginner to intermediate levels within that age range.
Apart from the actual length of the lesson, have you ever wondered how a teacher splits up their focus and points in a lesson? I typically start each and every lesson with tuning. Tuning is very important; it sets the standard for everything else done in the lesson. If the violin is not in tune, then a student could get used to playing out of tune. In that case, they would be training their ear incorrectly. Tuning can take between 30 seconds to about 10 minutes. 10 minutes you ask!!?? Yes, there have been times a violin has a string that is broken or because of the weather it is just finicky and does not want to stay in tune. This is especially the case in winter and with smaller student rental violins. So depending on certain factors, sometimes much of a lesson can be spent on just tuning the instrument. Putting that into perspective, 10 minutes of a 30 min lesson is about 33% of the entire lesson. That's a good chunk of time, hopefully a rare occurrence though.
Other focus points in a lesson may be section work within a piece, physical posture, music history, theory, listening, and pure playing time for the student mixed with duet playing (me with each student).
Finally, I like to reserve time at the close of a lesson to discuss constructive criticism on how to further improve as a musician. This could also include practice strategies for the student and their upcoming week.
So there you have it, a brief inside look at time management from a private instructor's perspective.
Each lesson is very different, and I've learned that I need to be prepared to go with the flow as well.
This time, like all times, is a very good one, if we but know what to do with it.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
This is my first 'Studio Sense' blog post. For 4 years now I have been teaching private lessons and have learned a bit about the art of teaching and keeping a studio/business. I hope these articles bring some helpful tips to the table for other teachers.
My first tip is about scheduling. With a full-time job, weekend gigs that pop up, and holidays it can be a bit tricky for teachers and families to keep a consistent private lesson schedule. One thing that has really helped me is Google Docs. This app gives you the ability to co-edit documents via the internet. Rather than asking each and every one of my students/parents separately about their availability for lessons I am able to ask them all at the same time. This limits back and forth trouble shooting and schedule overlap. The document updates in real time. I typically just write out the time blocks I have open, leave a name slot blank, create a 'shareable' link, and send this off with instructions to families. They are able to peruse the times and sign-up on the document. All others who view the document after them should be able to then see their selection and pick from the remaining openings.
Pros: This app is free.
Cons: Not everyone has a Google account so may need to set one up to use.
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