Post # 1
So, I got hired back at the end of January as a voice teacher at a local music store that was opening up some studios. I’m currently getting my degree in music performance and have been studying voice and music since elementary. When I applied, I was super excited. The pay is nice and I’ve been told I’d make a good teacher. While I’ve never formally given lessons, I’ve tutored for several years at various age levels. I thought I was going to do well and finally have a good job.
The first day was at the end of February where we went over the curriculum and I started having my doubts. The curriculum they use isn’t structured very well and is very difficult to teach from. Especially for the beginners who are learning how to read music for the first time. I figured I’d learn it and be fine. The store caters to pop/rock musicians, so it’s not quite the challenge that training the next Pavarotti would be, but I still want to do a good job and pass on the knowledge that I’ve gained and help young musicians grow.
Well, ever since lessons started, it’s been exactly what I was dreading it would be. From my first lesson the last week of February through next weekend, the 16th, I’ll have raked up 6 hours. Total. Maybe 13-15 if you include the training, but we get paid less for that. So it’s starting off incredibly slow and I have a feeling I’m getting the short stick. Someone has to work the busy weekends and it has yet to be me. It seems like having open availability just makes it easier to give me the crappy weekday lessons and split the weekends between the other two teachers who have much more limited availability. I don’t know.
Either way, I’ve been doing my best to teach the students I have and after only 2 lessons one of them was reassigned to another instructor. Granted everyone knew this kid was going to be a problem. Additionally, I’d said before that I wouldn’t be surprised if he dropped lessons entirely. So while this came as shock to no one, it’s still incredibly discouraging that I’ve already lost one of my students. I haven’t had a chance to talk to the studio manager to see what, if any, reasons they gave. I’d like to learn from my mistakes if it was something I did that caused the change.
I just have so much doubt in my own abilities right now. Coupled with the lack of hours, I have no idea what to do. I don’t want to quit, especially after just a couple weeks, but regardless I wouldn’t make that kind of move without something else lined up. I just have no idea if or when I should start looking elsewhere. This is mostly a vent, but I could use some advice as well. Please?
Post # 2
If you are a crappy teacher own it and fix it. I took piano lessons as an adult and my husband took guitar lessons as an adult. A good music teacher is confident number 1.
Need to shadow more? Do it. Seek other insrrucyors out of your work place to pick their brain
Need to dig deep in your lesson plan and make it something that make sense? Do it.
Take the formal training you have had and use that to come from a place of credibility.
I can only think of a couple reasons why a person would give up based on an instructor. 1) they were just bad- no structure, 2) too nice and let me get away with doing nothing, 3) they didn’t have passion for music. Make your students want to come back. Good luck!
Post # 3
I’ve been teaching voice for a couple of years and I understand how you are feeling.
I would definitely go over the curriculum with a fine tooth comb and see if it really makes sense and “flows” well. If it doesn’t, then come up with your own lesson plan usig the ideas from the current curriculum so that it works better for you and the student. Each student is different so it is up to you, as the teacher, to find where their strengths and weaknesses lie and to teach to each student’s style of learning. It may take a little while to really get to know how each student learns and responds to your teaching cues, but in the end, you’ll gain their trust as their teacher. Hang in there and always exude confidence.
I’ve found that even if the student doesn’t seem to “get” the lesson, their voice will improve over time if you give them warm up vocal exercises to practice during the week. It will also benefit you to find a voice instructor and take lessons from them so that you can be the student and find out what kinds of vocal exercises and techniques are helpful. I think that if you are continually improving and honing your craft as a vocalist, it will make you a better teacher to others.
Good luck, teaching does get easier with experience.HonoraryNerd:
Post # 4
Alexandria917: Thanks. Currently I am taking lessons, but the students I work with aren’t interested in becoming classical singers or learning classical method. In the case of my lost student, he’d been learning by ear and didn’t see why he had to learn how to read music to sing. The curriculum doesn’t help either. It’s very theory driven, each level determined by successfully mastering the skills of the previous unit. This is great, except all the other things that come along with singing are just strewn about. Things that should be at the beginning are lumped in with advanced theory, things that have no business being there at all take up half the unit, and there is no practice exercises to assess their theory level or songs for them to learn. Speaking with the other teachers employed there, they were equally frustrated. People with decades of experience were looking at it like, this makes no sense. I thought having little experience would give me an advantage because I’d be learning to teach based on what they gave without having done it differently before. Apparently not.
Post # 5
“It seems like having open availability just makes it easier to give me the crappy weekday lessons and split the weekends between the other two teachers who have much more limited availability.”
Well, yeah, of course it is. You have all the free time in the world, they don’t, so of course you’re going to get the crap shifts. That’s just what happens. Don’t start limiting your availability just out of hope for better students/shifts; that’s not fair. Someone’s gotta do it, and hopefully when something good comes along that actually supplies you with a real reason for needing to limit your availability, then do so – but for now, suck it up.
As for your teaching skills, do as much research as humanly possible. Try teaching your friends, if they’ll let you. Get feedback. That is most essential – the feedback. Seek it out as much as you can. If there’s something you don’t agree with or think could be tweeked a little, it wouldn’t hurt to talk to the boss about it and see if there’s something you can compromise on.
Post # 6
You need to alter the curriculum to fit your style. Make sure that you’re keeping what’s important, but if you’re literally following it exactly and not using your own words/style, then you will run into problems.
I think people in any job have to deal with similar concerns. For example, when I started my current job I was thrown into facilitating a lot of training sessions. These sessions were based upon PowerPoint presentations with other people’s words and notes. I struggled for a long time, but finally realized that I would never memorize my boss’ long sentences… that’s just not my style. Once I learned the gist of the material I could put it into my own words, and now I do the training without any notes. I can just speak to the slides.
Post # 7
- Wedding: October 2013 - Dalhousie Castle
HonoraryNerd: I think you’re in a bit of a tricky situation that will resolve itself with time.
First off, your the “new” girl. It’s my experience that people tend to think the worst of new people because they’ve forgotten what it was like to start the job and to have to get up to speed with all the material and the way things work. They tend to assume the person doesn’t have ability because their slower at doing tasks or whatever compared to an experienced person. Also, there’s always a bit of hostility to the new person on the territory as people are don’t know you and are unsure about you. The best thing you can do to combat this opinion is stick it out. After a few months they’ll be used to having you around and the issue will probably die down a lot. The other thing you can do is be honest about where you’re struggling and get help. Make it clear you are open and willing to learn and work hard to do so. Then they can’t shift all the blame to you, if they want an excellent employee, it’s also partly on them to give you some training.
The second issue sounds like it’s coming from the difficult teaching material. I’d come up with a list of specific questions you have about it and try to get them answered. Also, it might be really beneficial if you attended or sat in on a class held by the more experienced teachers. That would give you an opportunity see how they do it. I would suggest all this to the person in charge.
Also, if they are not giving you feedback, then you can just ask your students directly. What do they think? What are they struggling to get/ understand / perform? Just doing this will help them see that you care about them doing well and will build trust. I learned this doing some lab class teaching. People are so reluctant to say if they are not picking something up. You really have to push them a little to get them to admit they need a concept explained in a another way etc.
Hopefully this helps a bit! Good luck!