Information for parents for piano lessons at Bourne Grammar School - 2019/20

2019-2020


About me

Introduction and relationship with BGS
I am a freelance musician, mixing teaching with performing. That means that I don’t have any formal connection with the school: in other words, I don’t receive any information about school trips, academic review, or sports day, or why children might be absent from school. So it would be best if you contact me directly about anything to do with the lessons.

Also, if your child is starting lessons for the first time, please let me know about anything that you think I ought to know: about any learning difficulties, or dyslexia, etc. The school will not tell me unless I specifically ask.

Insurance and Clearance to work with Children
Through my membership of the Incorporated Society of Musicians (ISM), I have Public Liability insurance up to £10m in relation to my professional work. I renewed my DBS this year, 2018.

More about me
There is a web site with links to my activities here:
www.fergusblackmusic.uk

Contract and fees
My professional association, the ISM provides a template contract, which I have adjusted slightly to accommodate the BGS’s peculiarities.

The fee is set by the school, to make fees the same for all instruments.

Exam and Competition fees, purchase of music, and the provision of pencils and rubbers, are additional.


Lessons

Lesson Times
I will send lessons times:
• by email to you (I don’t have the children’s email or mobile numbers, nor should I);
• on M.I.L.K. (which they and you can both see);
• posted on the Music Noticeboard.

It is better for everyone if students can make their own way to lessons without my going to fetch them. If I go to the classroom, it shortens the lesson by between five and ten minutes, and it disrupts the class lesson for thirty other people. For that reason, I am not supposed to fetch students from class, but I do try to.

Sometimes, I cannot find students quickly enough before the end of the lesson. In a large school, like Bourne Grammar, this is sometimes the case.

Lesson days and times
Lessons take place in school terms, during the school day on a weekly basis, at the school, on a rotating timetable, on a day mutually convenient to me and the school.

GSCE and A-level students will have priority for lessons outside of class time:
before or after school
at breaks or tutor time
during free periods.

I also try and give fixed time lessons to students who come out of class for a second instrument.

Students try and change my lesson times to avoid asking some class teachers to leave the class for my lesson. Short answer: No.

Also, I can’t usually change lessons if it clashes with a class subject the student likes / doesn’t like / thinks is more important. It is not possible to rearrange rotating lessons to avoid certain subjects.


Charging for Lessons

When do I charge?

Obviously, if there is a lesson, I will charge for it.

If there is no lesson, then whether or not I charge depends on the circumstances, and requires give and take on three sides: me, the student and the class teacher. The key concept here is “advance”: if you can let me know in advance, I will do my best to work something out.

In school

If the student is in school, I largely expect them to attend music lessons.

It is usually possible for class exams to be taken at breaks or lunchtimes so the student can attend a music lesson, if the class teacher is given sufficient notice.

If the student chooses to stay in class that will trigger a lesson fee from me.

I regret that I don't have much flexibility with my timetable, but I do have some. If there is some other school activity (like school council, sports day, or meeting about drama trip), please let me know in advance and I will try to reschedule. However, I reserve the right to charge for missed lessons

Not in school

If they are not in school (e.g. a school trip) and if you (or even better, the student) tells me in advance that there is a lesson day and time they cannot make, I will try and reschedule the lesson. If I can’t reschedule I won’t charge.

If they are not in school, but you didn’t tell me, then sorry but I will charge for a lesson. Remember: the school wouldn’t tell me that the student is not in school.

If the student is ill I will charge for a lesson.

Exams and Study Leave: If the student is sitting a national statutory exam (i.e. GCSE or A-Level, not mocks or school exams). I will try and reschedule the lesson. If I can’t reschedule I won’t charge. I expect the student to attend lessons during study leave.

If I am not in school, I will not charge. Like all freelance musicians, sometimes my school work clashes with other commitments. I will try and rearrange lessons, but this is not always possible. If I am absent from school I will not charge for the lesson. If at the end of the year I haven’t delivered all 36 lessons, I will make a refund.

If the school is closed, I will not charge


Routines

Routine of practice
It would be best to look on the lessons as a kind of ‘check-up’. The work of learning music is done between lessons, not at them. The student should be practising regularly, preferably daily. The best way to do this is to establish a routine at home with piano practice before tea, or after breakfast, or at some set time.

Each time there should be a variety of different activities: posture, warm-up exercises, technical work / scales, pieces at different stages of preparation – some new, some well-known. The general rule of practice is that it should be purposeful, not simply dutiful. For example, to get a difficult bit right, slow it down, and take it apart, for example, practise hands separately before putting them together. Simply playing through from the beginning each time you make a mistake will not do!

Routine of checking the music noticeboard first thing on lesson days.
Could please ask your son/daughter to check the music noticeboard first thing in the morning, to remind themselves when the lesson is?

Bringing books to lessons
It would help the lessons flow smoothly if students always bring all books to lessons. I do try to have a copy of their music with me, but I would not be able to mark their copy.


Books and music

Buying Music
I will, in the course of time, recommend some music to buy for lessons. I need to make an assessment of range and suitability of repertoire before doing that. The music that I have copied or lent is only a temporary measure to get us going.

When I ask you to order music, if you have the time, please go together to a music shop. That way you can see what else is available, and browse interesting things.

Wild Heart Music
Unit 4, Angel Precinct
Bourne
Lincolnshire
PE10 9AE
01778 425885
info@wildheartmusic.co.uk

Breve Music
27 Rivergate Arcade,
Peterborough
PE1 1EL
Tel: 01733 313598

Stamford Music Shop,
11 St. Mary’s Hill,
Stamford,
Lincs. PE9 2DP
Tel: 01780 751275
info@stamfordmusicshop.co.uk

I think the Stamford shop has the widest range of music in stock.

You can get also sheet music online in many cases, e.g. from
/musicroom.com/ or /amazon.co.uk/

Notebook
I will provide a notebook, which I hope will guide practice. Without a notebook it is unlikely that practice will be focussed on the things that need to be practised.


Other Info

Concerts and performances
From time-to-time I arrange student lunchtime concerts to give students performing experience in front of an audience – so that they are not fazed in exams and performances. Sadly, the school will not allow parents into these.

Curriculum
I don’t follow any strict curriculum for students, since we are all individuals. However, I encourage students to take Associated Board exams and to enter the local Competition Music Festival. These provide objective assessments of standards, and help students prepare for performance.

Please also see the following information pages: