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#1261851 - 09/03/09 02:20 PM Transfer students
Gisele Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/08/09
Posts: 158
Loc: Schenectady, Saratoga Counties...
I should have written alot sooner but I guess better late than never.

Tonight, I have 2 new students who are 9 and 11 year old sisters. Both have taken piano lessons for a year but for some reason unbeknownst to me, they are looking for a new teacher.

What do you recommend I do to "test" their abilities? I have not yet purchased any books for them because I don't know how talented they may or may not be. The mom wrote that the older daughter loves music and seems talented whereas the younger one is still at a beginner stage.

Each of their lessons tonight is supposedly only for a half hour. I am also guessing that neither had lessons over the summer months. Any recommendations would be appreciated.
Gisele Sum, gsum82-piano@hotmail.com
Piano and Theory Teacher
Principal Church Organist and/or Choir Accompaniment

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#1261878 - 09/03/09 03:03 PM Re: Transfer students [Re: Gisele]
John v.d.Brook Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7507
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
Gisele, welcome to the forum.

Do you have a supply of elementary music they can sight read from? When you interviewed them, did they play some repertoire for you? If not, tonight's lesson needs to explore this issue - where are they and what have they learned.

I keep a supply of music transfer students are unlikely to have seen, so it's relatively easy to have them do sight reading.

If they have only had 9 months of 30 min lessons, they are probably barely out of the primer level. Don't be surprised if they don't recognize key signatures, cannot read hands together, etc.

Please come back tomorrow and tell us how the lessons went.

Best of luck,

"Those who dare to teach must never cease to learn." -- Richard Henry Dann
Full-time Private Piano Teacher offering Piano Lessons in Olympia, WA. www.mypianoteacher.com
Certified by the American College of Musicians; member NGPT, MTNA, WSMTA, OMTA

#1261923 - 09/03/09 04:17 PM Re: Transfer students [Re: John v.d.Brook]
Betty Patnude Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/11/07
Posts: 4896
Loc: Puyallup, Washington

For any of the questions that you have above, I think you can confidently ask those things of the parent and the student when they are will you tonight at first lessons.

The question about why they are leaving their teachers would be of interest to me. I would also want to know that the teacher was or was not informed of the change. That would establish for me how our future together might go, if, for instance, I was going to be the last to know that my students were switching teachers. Things like that do happen, but I don't want it happening to me, for instance. In fact I just had a phone call of someone wanting to transfer from a teacher I know and I asked "Does she know you are leaving?"

With transfer students of age 9 and 11 with about a year of previous lessons, I think these girls will be more comfortable playing something they have already learned and like to play.

Which books they have used and their assignment book will tell you a lot about what was covered and the rate of speed that lessons progressed. I would wait until I know them a little better before having a plan in place about that was needed for immediate study.

The biggest purpose of an interview is that you establish you would like to work with them as a family unit and that you have their cooperation and interest for your future togeter.

Having the 1st lesson/interview together is an opportunity to project in a happy way what will be happening in your piano studio and that you are pleased they will be participating too. If you have a scrapbook or recital programs or something to share with them about your teaching they will get a glimpse of what it's like to be your student and to step through the open door. I know one teacher who over the years has taken a picture of the student at the first lesson and put it into her current scrapbook. Then she adds to it until the student leaves and she gives the student a copy of their scrapbook of piano study together.

Sometimes, especially with testing sight reading or some specific knowledge, the student feels put on the spot to the point of discomfort and frustration. Sometimes we find that the previous lessons were not smooth sailing for the student. I think the first lesson/interview is a time that both the teacher and the student want to put their best foot forward.

Now, if you were talking about a transfer student, age 13, with 3 or more years of lessons, then, the checking out of his playing could handle more scrutiny if that is the kind of thing you want to know right now. When we take transfer students on, we take them warts and all. I have never met a fully groomed piano student showing a completely balanced education at any age or level - there are always strengths and weaknesses to discover in the student even when the previous teacher has been the best of teachers.

Most people are looking for an entrance to a piano studio where the onus is on enjoyment and a comfort level between teacher and student from which progress will be made.

I find myself adapting to the mindset of the families who have many things on their plates already but want to provide an introduction to piano lessons, too. For this reason, I think it's important to start where they are and not to put too much pressure on them immediately to conform to the "standards" we hold for our students. The adjustment period could be too much to handle if it looks to them like there are obstacles to overcome or hoops to jump through.

So, a warm welcome and a gentle approach until you get totally familiar with each other over time will pave the way for entry into your studio and far into the future.


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