At West County Strings, we are committed to creating the absolute best possible learning experience for every student, and we are confident that if you are willing to commit to and follow the guidelines outlined below we will have a positive and productive working relationship.
Parents, you are your child’s teacher for every hour of the week that they are not in lessons! Your child looks up to you in a way that they look up to no one else in the world, and you are their models in all things – including music. And only you can nurture your child to learn and grow in so many unique and powerful ways – including in music.
For this reason, parents are expected to remain attentive in their child’s lesson, and to take notes for their child if he or she is not of the age to take notes for themselves. Parents are encouraged to audio and/or video record lessons, and to ask questions in lessons when invited to do so by the teacher. We also ask that parents refrain from using cell phones, reading books, or engaging in other distractions in lessons.
Although both parents will be involved in the learning process, we ask that one parent be designated as the “practice parent” – the parent who will be primarily responsible for accompanying their child to their lessons, listening to CDs with their child, and practicing with their child at home. The greater consistency and focus employed by the practice parent, the greater the success of the child will be.
Daily practice is crucial to success. So many of the skills required to play a stringed instrument can only be learned through repetition and review. Students will be expected to complete their practice assignment given to them each week. It is your teacher’s job to make daily and weekly practice expectations clear, and the student’s responsibility to implement them in their daily practice with their parent’s help and guidance. We expect each family to be working towards daily practice, and efficient use of their time at home. Remember, quality of practice is far more important than quantity, and practice time should be as focused as possible.
Daily listening to CDs or digital recordings is perhaps the easiest and most valuable thing that you and your child can do to foster musical growth and development. Your teacher will give weekly listening assignments, which will be drawn from the both the Suzuki repertoire and the vast array of music from across the ages. Your teacher guide you to focus on listening to:
- a “review” piece (a piece that your child has worked on recently and knows quite well),
- a “focus” piece (the piece that your child is currently working on in their lessons),
- and a “preparation” piece (the piece that your child will be playing next).
It is recommended that you listen to each of these 3 pieces no less than 10 times a day, which can sound overwhelming. But the wonderful thing about listening is that it can be done during meals, in the car, while homework is being done, or while your child is going to sleep. Be creative, and it can be incredibly easy and fun to get your listening assignments completed.
Through daily listening, your child will begin to develop a sense of intonation, phrasing, and musicality. Their lessons will be more productive and therefore more fun and rewarding. And they will have a vision of what their own playing will someday be able to sound like, giving them a clear goal to strive for. Simply put, the value of daily listening cannot be overstated. Please, please do it!
Your tuition payment to West County Strings grants you access to group classes, solo recitals, group performances, studio outings and activities, and of course private lessons with your teacher on the dates and times agreed upon and scheduled and no other. Lessons missed by the student for any reason will not be rescheduled, “made up,” refunded, or credited (for a parent’s point of view, see Make-Up Lessons from an Economists Point of View for a Suzuki parent’s perspective). Students are permitted to contact other families in the studio to attempt to switch their lesson time for a particular week to avoid missing a lesson altogether. Please contact your teacher for possible lesson switch times and the families’ contact information.
So that weekly lesson time can be used most efficiently, each student is expected to bring their instrument, music, and journal or practice chart to each lesson from week to week. Please plan to arrive at least 5 minutes before your scheduled lesson time to give you time to quietly take off your shoes, wash your hands, and unpack your instrument and materials, so that the lesson can begin on time.
Recitals are a wonderful time for everyone in the studio to come together and share music and support one another. Out of respect for each student and the work that they have put in to prepare for their recital performance, we ask that families plan to stay for the entire recital and not arrive late or leave early. You will usually have multiple recital times to chose from, and we ask that you let your teacher know as early as possible if one or more of the times presents a conflict with another scheduled activity, so that we can schedule you on a recital that you can fully participate in.
While parent(s) and/or sibling(s) are attending a student’s lesson, they must remain quiet in the studio so as not to disrupt the lesson in progress. Parents should limit the use of cell phones, laptops, and other devices so as to remain engaged in their child’s lesson. Remember, parents: Ms. Kirby and Mr. Brad get to see your child once a week. You are your child’s home teacher the other 90% of the time, and it is crucial that you are picking up every detail in your child’s weekly lessons!
Occasionally, prospective students and their parent(s) may sit in and observe a lesson in order to get familiar with Mr. Brad or Ms. Kirby’s teaching, and the lesson process and environment at West County Strings in general. Your teacher will make every effort to give you notice ahead of time, should a prospective student be planning to observe your child’s lesson on a given week.
Once a student’s lessons have been scheduled for the school year or for the summer session and the student’s family has confirmed that the times scheduled by their teacher will work, the family is financially responsible for the tuition corresponding to those lessons, and will continue to be held responsible should they opt to discontinue attending lessons at any point during the registered period.
Please notify us of any learning disabilities or health problems that we should be aware of and whom to notify in case of an emergency. If possible, share with us a copy of your child’s Individualized Education Plan from school.