Years ago I began using www.MusicTeachersHelper.com. The calendar with this service requires that all scheduled events or lessons must be reconciled and room is provided for notes. Once reconciled, lesson notes are emailed to all students and parents in which I provide a brief synopsis of the lesson, practice instructions for the next week, important reminders. This past year, I wondered if parents and students found the notes beneficial. After an informal poll, almost all families told me they read the notes and even print them off for their pianist. Of course, time is taken to wrap up these notes after lessons so I continue to work on ways to streamline this “service” making it easier on me and yet providing quality feedback for parents and students.
As part of my efforts to be more efficient, all lesson notes begin with a Progress Score. Here’s the scale I use:
- 5 = WOW = exceeded MY highest expectations, all goals were met and then some
- 4 = EXCELLENT = all goals were met and progress made by consistent practice
- 3 = NICE = most goals were met but some were not, due to lack of time, unclear statement of goals, goals set were too difficult to meet…
- 2 = OK = some goals were met, but practice between lessons was not sufficient for much progress
- 1 = HO HUM = looks like last weeks goals will be repeated as little or no practice occurred and little progress made
All notes are typed in a Text Editor so each week I have the notes from last week. As the template remains the same, I simply add in new notes and copy and paste them into the space provided by Music Teachers Helper (check out their latest new app) when reconciling the lesson.
From the feedback I receive, parents are eager to read this “solid feedback” of their pianist’s progress. I’ve even heard that parents use the progress score as leverage for their child’s TV and electronic privileges. Each week, my expectations are set, students are clear on the goals and parents are kept in the loop. Families know that consistently low scores may result in lesson termination. Although I never like to see students go, this is a good way to weed out those students who take up lesson time that could be filled with more dedicated students.
One more bonus of this system: misunderstandings are minimal and parents rarely stop in to check in on lessons as they stay informed. This is very important to me as it is crucial that lesson time be spent with students to make progress and not with the parents to discuss progress.
Do you provide lesson notes? What do you include? Do you use a rating system to encourage weekly progress?