Friday, May 14, 2010

It's What Happens Between Music Lessons that Counts!

By Mark T. Burke

It's 8am and the company you work for is holding it's weekly manager meeting. What do you talk about?

It's time for your bi-annual dentist appointment. What determines how many cavities you have? 

It's Wednesday, your weekly weight management group is meeting.  What's the key to maintaining or loosing weight? 

In all cases, your actions BETWEEN events determines your focus, your current state and your potential for ongoing success. Performing those actions as planned, diligently, ensures you stay on a course of action aimed at achieving your goals. Even though we are all responsible for our actions in-between the meetings, appointments and group sessions, sometimes we need support.  Great organizations have figured out that when they help people stay on track, between "events", they become valued organizations. When organizations are valued, people count on them more and more and everyone benefits.

When managers support staff efforts between weekly operational meetings, they demonstrate compassionate and proactive leadership.  By supporting staff needs, they are not devaluing staff contributions, they are supporting their growth and ensuring the staff's value by aligning all actions to the organizational mission.

When dentists connect patients with products and services to help them maintain dental health between visits, patients become more involved in their own dental health. Appointment reminders, phone calls and post cards raise the level of importance of preparing for the appointment (and showing up).

Weight management groups have learned that peer to peer support between meetings is key to raising the success rate of clients. That support ensures people experience success and keep coming back.

Now lets discuss Music lessons. The question is, "What do we do to support and encourage progress between lessons?"  Most of us have experiences to draw on from organizations that support our needs. I'll toss out a few to get our conversation going.

Ways to support musical growth between lessons.
  • Check in with students between lessons.
  • Distribute supportive, informative and educational information to students between lessons.
  • Create a "support line" to respond to student questions between lessons.
  • Regularly supply information to students and parents regarding beneficial external products and services.
  • Ensure goals are clearly communicated during lessons. 
Now how can we accomplish these tasks?  I believe the better question is "How can we afford NOT to accomplish these tasks?"  I equate these tasks with being customer service oriented. I believe as educators, we should take a service-oriented approach to teaching. When we start to view our jobs as supporting students in their efforts, we start to relate our jobs to the many other professionals we encounter in our lives. We all interact with others who we expect to offer us a high level of service at the time of service and in-between those times. Modeling our approach after our own expectations of others can guide our approach.

How do you ensure student success between lessons?  Do you use the web? Social Media? Online tools? Software? 



  1. One of the things that many, many music teachers don't do is actually teach their students HOW to practice effectively on their own.

    What does one do with a student who has been given all the tools to succeed, been communicated with outside of lessons, and STILL makes minimal effort to work in between lessons? When does a teacher draw the line?

    It took my applied teacher in college telling me that perhaps I should become an accountant instead to shake me enough to start putting in more consistent individual practice time.

  2. So...the age old question of "when to fire a student?" My approach has changed over the years. I confess, my impatiences during my younger years influenced my approach. 15 years ago, I pushed students off my list after 2 unprepared lessons. Today, adopting a service oriented approach has changed me. As I mentioned in this post, what happens between lessons is really the import stuff. While I don't think the lesson time is THE most important time for most kids, for some kids it is the most they can handle.

    This is why at viaAcademies, we build in tools to provide guidance between lessons. In fact, we put more emphasis on the "between" lesson activities. We consider the lessons as check-ups, quick and easy, focused, to the point, supportive.

    Today, we have many tools to help kids between lessons, a topic we could dive into more.

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