Let’s Talk About It

Teaching is easy. I bet you’re laughing right now. But really. Think about it. You know your subject. You are passionate about your content. You know what’s difficult? Talking to parents. Think about it for a moment. Even if all you’re doing is giving the parent an update on how their child is doing, it can be a nerve-wracking conversation. But there are ways to make it a less daunting prospect.

First off, relax. Both you and the parent(s) want the best for the student. Both of you are also probably nervous. Don’t get defensive. Both of you do know best and now you have to find a middle ground.

Before you start the meeting, have an idea of what you want to talk to the parent about. Even if all you can think of are negatives, make sure to have some positives. Start off with those positives. But don’t use them all up, keep one in reserve for the end. You want to end on that positive note.

Parents, please don’t go into the meeting thinking that the teacher is going to tell you all the things they think you are doing wrong. While you’ve known your child longer, they see your child in a different light. I promise you, your child can sometimes seem like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde when you and the teacher compare notes. And you might not know which side of the child you’re seeing.

Finally, as with all meetings, both parties need to go into the meeting with an open mind. In the long run, both the teacher and the parent want what is best for the student. That’s something we can all agree on.

guitar, student

New and Old Violins

Have you heard that older violins are better? Or modern ones? There is no perfect instrument out there, despite all the known ideas out there.

According to MTMS instructor Nitin Sharma, age is one consideration of a stringed instrument’s sound. Vibrations of the wood cause the grain to loosen and expand over time. “Matured” instruments can sound so full and loud, but this is only true of a well-loved instrument, not one that is simply displayed.

The understanding is that this is all stringed instruments, including guitars and piano. There is a limit to how much this changes the sound, and the limits are more about the craftsmanship of the instrument and the quality of the wood used to create it. Some very cheap instruments have particleboard, MDF, or plywood, which is terrible due to the way those pieces have been constructed without a uniform wood grain.

Nitin’s teacher in college had a real enthusiasm for violins. “t least once a month he would come in with a different violin, different bow, or different strings and ask me how I perceived his playing. It really teaches you a lot about your instrument when you experiment with it like that and I would suggest, if you play any sort of string instrument, to start experimenting with different strings! It can make a world of difference in your sound. So many people just go with the most popular brand, like Ernie Ball for guitars or Dominant for Violins, but there are so many options out there that can really transform your instrument.”

Stringed instrument users – have you changed your strings? Have you looked into a different brand? I might change my guitar strings today, and try a brand I haven’t before.

violin, student

MTMS COVID Protocols

We have readily available hand sanitizer, disinfectant wipes/spray, and soap everywhere. In each lesson room, we’ve installed a clear shower curtain liner to separate the teacher from the student. We’ve removed a large percentage of our lobby seating and ask parents of independent children to wait in their cars or drop off/pick up. Masks are required of staff, students and clients at all times except where it interferes with the lesson – for example, voice lessons or trumpet lessons – in which case the teacher/student are separated by the curtain or the lesson is conducted in our larger classroom, and they wear masks up until the point where it would interfere. We do have a music lab where students work on independent study under the guidance of a theory teacher, and we’ve reduced capacity in the room from 9 students to 4 students and separated the work stations with plastic divider walls. And most significantly, we offer online lessons, and since approx. 75% of our clients have opted to stay online for the time being, as well as about half our teachers still choosing to teach remotely from their homes, our overall traffic of people is significantly reduced from pre-COVID operations. Some days are busier than others, so if your schedule is flexible, we can find you a time with a minimum of people in the building, if that interests you.