Each fall and spring, Music SO Simple teachers evaluate their students. The fall evaluation takes place about 6 weeks into the school year. It is primarily used to assess where each student is and what we see the goals for the student to be for the year.
To help parents understand these evaluations better, I have put together a report on the accumulations of all students so that you can see where your student falls. All evaluations include critiques on musicianship, practicing, and technical development. The ratings for each category from lowest to highest: Not Applicable, Needs Improvement, Developing, Making Progress, & Excellent.
PRACTICE & PROGRESS WITH PRACTICE
We do like for our students to practice about 5 days per week. Obviously, more is great, but less contributes to less progress being made in lessons and overall. But, it's not always enough to just "practice" 5 times each week! Students need to be exhibiting good practice habits in order to make that progress! Your student may be sitting down to practice several times per week, but are they practicing their assigned work? Or are they practicing old pieces that they already know? Are they practicing in small sections or just playing through their pieces? All of these contribute to the practice and progress!
THOROUGHNESS & FOLLOWING DIRECTIONS
How thorough is your student being while practicing? Are they following the directions of their teacher at home? Do they keep their binder out and look at the assignment sheet while practicing? It is our job to teach our students how to practice to make sure they are making progress, however we cannot be there during their practice time! You know that old saying that you can lead a horse to water, but you can't always make him drink....
This is a big one! And look at how our students scored- Excellent! This generally applies to attitude in the lessons. If your student scored low on this, we need to find out why. It could be various reasons- maybe they don't feel like lessons, maybe it's due to lack of practice or motivation or progress. Maybe it's not a good fit with teacher...it could be so many things! But, talking to your student is the first thing that should happen regardless of how they score. If they scored "Excellent", find out why and keep that going!
I hope this was helpful in looking at your student's evaluation. In the spring, we will be looking back at the entire school year. Obviously, we want scores to be even higher! That means progress was made!
But honestly, the most important thing is our communication with you, the parent, on how your student is doing. Many of us already have great conversations after lessons, however, it is my thought that it is written down and documented.
Of course, if you have any questions on evaluations, please reach out to me. If I don't know the answers to your questions, I will definitely find them out!
This year, we are turning the bonus classes up a notch! I'm super excited with the line up we have for this year! These are free classes to our school-aged students enrolled in group and private lessons- so, please take advantage! The thought is to offer something different outside of our normal lesson experience- to open our eyes, and ears, to other musical experiences. Take a look:
Have you heard all of the competitive buzz around the school about Music Ball? Yep, it's that time of the year!! I get super excited and pumped up about music ball- and this year is no different!!
This year, each teacher picked different "food" team names and we are having a blast with it!! We even have a teacher combined team for the adult students who I'm secretly rooting for! How awesome would that be for the adult team to win?!?!
At each student's lesson, we give points based on their theory work completed, practice days, and their attitude and posture in the lesson. Then, those points are added to a score sheet where the team gets an average. The team with the highest average for the week wins the game. We will compete for 7 weeks. At that point, the teams with the highest number of wins will be the winners.
This year, we are giving prizes to our 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place teams in each division. In addition, each team will have a Top Team Player- the player who has the highest average. All Top Team Players and 1st place teams will be invited to a lock in at Music SO Simple where we will get to watch a movie, play music games, eat pizza, and just have fun! This date will be announced later!
Check out the current stats here!
I have gotten a lot of questions regarding summer private lessons- most especially why they look like they are so much more expensive. So, I figure that I can use some blog time to write down exactly why it looks like it is more expensive, but it's really not as much as you think. Stick with me.
For the mere sake of time, I'm only going to compare 45-minute lessons for you. Of course, feel free to do the lesson package that applies to you and your family.
During the school year, we include 32-lessons from September through May. We divide this number into 9 equal monthly payments, which means you are paying for about 3.5 lessons each month. We do this because some months have more weeks than others, students come on different days & there are not an equal number of days in each month...some months you get MORE lessons, some months you get LESS. Hopefully that makes sense.
45 minute lessons each month is $205. That is a total of $1845 for the school year or almost $58 per lesson.
For the summer session- 6 lessons of the same length are $375, which is $62.50. We have gone up $4.50 per lesson. Of course, we know everything goes up- this is to help provide you with the best teachers and keep our pay rate competitive to what other schools pay their own teachers.
This price will stay the same for the 2023-24 school year. We do a small increase each summer which is reflected in the following school year pricing. There are no discounts in the summer because everyone is traveling and we don't have the normal cash flow like the school year.
I honestly do not like talking money or making pricing of lessons go up. I have a family of my own as well- and it's hard! However, I do know that the quality of what we provide is the best. Ask any of our teachers, and they love doing what they do- but they all love working at Music SO Simple.
In addition to our wonderful teachers, we are building our library of music- which directly affects what we give our students, teaching on the best instruments, keeping them in tune and maintained, and offering a wonderful staff and facility for all. These are just a few things that you do see every single week. I promise to keep that going for you all.
That's all I have to say. I'm certainly not going to keep anyone from taking lessons because of money, so if you are in a real bind, please feel free to reach out to me.
I have been working HARD on recitals since December 21st- a few days after our huge December Holiday Recital 2022. Along with the photos from the day's recitals, I had also sent out a survey getting some much needed feedback. Here's what I learned from our recitals as they are now:
The most common mentioned feedback was about wanting a better venue where the student is elevated on a stage or the audience has more auditorium style seating. AND THIS IS WHAT I HAVE BEEN WORKING SO HARD ON!
To be honest, this is something I have been worrying about. Because the space has a stage, but not a heavy enough stage to support the piano, we have to have the piano in front of the stage, which limits our seating right in front of the piano. The location of the church is ideal AND it's easy for our families to get in and out of. Parking is amazing, and being able to walk right in without taking elevators, or walking a far distance is key for us. The other wonderful thing about it is that there is ALWAYS someone to help us if we need something or if there is an emergency. This is not something we have had in the past at a different venue, even when our rental fees went up.
Our plan for May is to offer TWO different recital dates since we will have many more participants. The first will be a recital in the parking lot: "Luau in the 'Lot" with 3 recitals. This will be more of a casual recital. Then later in May, we will offer another 5-6 recitals in the church hall moving the piano to one side (instead of in the middle of the hall) and place the seating with many rows back.
I am working on a new/different venue for our formal recitals in December. I willl keep you all posted on this as I make decisions.
This week, I came across a great article that explains some different ways our brains react to music. Almost every part of our brain reacts when we make or listen to music! If you've ever been curious about the benefits of music study, you can see some specifics here. The web page includes a diagram of the brain, showing how music affects each specific area. One interesting highlight: since music engages the part of our brain that regulates coordination and rhythm, Parkinson's patients who need help getting around can be prescribed music as a treatment! Explore more for yourself here.
- Emily McMullin
Article: Your Brain on Music, published in Pegasus, the magazine of the University of Central Florida.
I've been hearing from parents lately about their child not really getting into practice and if I have suggestions. I do!!
#1: Try and make practice part of the schedule. It could be the same time each day or just part of the daily flow. Do you usually eat dinner around the same time each night? When whoever is cooking, maybe that's the time to remind your student to go practice! Or, maybe it's in the middle of homework and your student needs a break. Physically get up from homework (at the proper stopping point) and switching that part of the brain off to work on practice helps tremendously. Not only will practice be a welcome thought, but also when practice is done, your student will be ready and fresh again for homework! If your evenings are crazy, how about practice first thing in the morning before jetting off to school?
#2: Remember WHY you are doing this! Why do you feel music is good for your student? If there's no practice (or very little) your student is going to get discouraged. Keep the momentum going at the beginning establishes that habit of practice. Even if it's only for 5 minutes. I often think getting TO the instrument is the hardest part. It's kind of like working out, once you get to your mat or to the gym, you feel better working out! Just get to your instrument- make the effort, and the rewards will show themselves.
#3: Need a little incentive? This is part of the reason we begin Music Ball when we do!! (we are kinda smart sometimes). We like to wait a few weeks in and then throw in the super fun, competitive game of Music Ball. Students are put on teams according to their teacher and then we "play" against each other. Honestly, all you will have to say at home is "How's your team doing?", "Make sure you mark your practice so your teacher can see it!" , and I promise your student might go running to their instrument!! Then, check out the weekly newsletter each week- save the URL for Music Ball (only available to students) and check in on it at the beginning of each week. Viola! You're golden! Bonus point for not even saying "go practice!".
Many of my students this semester are brand new to piano. Several are the very first in their family to ever try playing an instrument! I love seeing the fresh waves of excitement that are always sparked at the beginning of a musical journey, and I’m not surprised that parents love seeing it too.
If you’re a parent with children in music lessons, you probably remember the nervous energy, beaming post-lesson faces, and growing self-assurance of the early days. You may be in that phase yourself! My goal today is to answer some questions I’ve heard recently from new-to-music parents.
How often should my child practice?
Throughout the journey of playing an instrument, consistency is vital to the learning process. At the very beginning, your child is learning a habit of daily practice that will be essential to their progress later. Practicing every day is a good goal – your teacher can give you a realistic expectation for daily practice session length.
Should I buy a real piano?
This is a tricky one, since every family’s situation is different. The best option for piano practice is an acoustic piano. If your family has access to one, your child should be practicing on it. If you don’t have one, consider making the investment. Pianos can be cheaper than you think, and there’s nothing wrong with purchasing a used piano! Talk with your teacher if you have questions about purchasing a piano that’s right for your budget.
If an acoustic piano is simply not an option, beginning students can still progress while practicing on an electric keyboard. The ideal keyboard will be as similar to an acoustic piano as possible – look for one with weighted keys. However, as your child progresses further, they will need to begin practicing on an acoustic piano.
My child doesn’t seem to be getting better lately. Should we keep taking lessons?
I’ve heard so many variations of this question, and it’s completely understandable. Playing an instrument requires a blend of so many different physical and mental skills. Every child acquires these skills at totally different rates! This means that progress happens slowly and then more quickly in cycles over time.
If your child is practicing consistently and still doesn’t seem to be making progress, don’t quit! They are probably in the process of incorporating a new mental or physical skill into their playing. Given time, those skills will “click” and a new era of progression will begin. It may also be that your child needs a new practice strategy. What works well in one season of growth may not always transfer perfectly to the next. Talk to your teacher about progression – no one knows more about your child’s musical growth than their teacher!
I’m not a musician. What’s the best way for me to support my child taking lessons?
I love hearing this question. It’s a sincere reminder of how deeply parents care about their children’s success. If you are asking this question, you’ve already got the right attitude!
One of the best ways parents can help their children is by giving gentle practice reminders. Young children can often forget to practice, and parents are in a great position to give reminders until the habit is established. Framing practice as an exciting after-school activity can keep children from dreading it as a chore.
Every child is different, and every parent can support their child in different ways. Specific encouragements or rewards could be great for one child and useless for another. Talk to your teacher about your child’s practice habits and overall attitude towards the instrument. You both can work out a strategy that’s right for your child’s temperament and experience level.
What questions did you have when your child first started lessons? Let us know in the comments!
In the spring of 2022, we threw out a huge campaign to get feedback on teachers and how parents/students were doing at Music SO Simple. I will say that most of the answers were right on point and I expected our feedback. For the most part, all of it was amazing!! I won't lie (and you know me better than that anyways), there were some things we needed to improve on. But, isn't that normal? We had about half of the families answer the survey. Below are the results.
When asked these questions, here is the percentage of the highest answer:
My child's teacher begins & ends on time for his/her lessons. 85.2% said yes
My child and teacher have a good relationship and work well together. 93.4% said yes
My child’s teacher is able to meet the particular learning needs of my child. 80.3% said yes
I believe my teacher has a high level of professionalism. 88.5% said yes
I feel like Music So Simple has a good reputation. 89.1% said yes
Here are some areas we want to improve on according to the survey:
What do you feel are your teacher’s strengths? Here are some awesome responses:
Lastly, on the survey were 5 important questions. I have copied and pasted them here!!
We LOVE that everyone refers friends!! That's honestly where we want new students to come from!!
One of my summer projects was to update our Music SO Simple School Policies. We had created our policies when we had 40 students 7 years ago. Needless to say, we are at a little over 200 students currently and they needed a freshening up!
I have attached a link to our new policy below, but I'm going to bullet point some of the main things to remember and let you know what has changed.
Our policies will need to be signed along with our photo release by August 31. This form will need to be filled out for all students before they can attend their first lesson of the school year! Access it below: