(Please note: As this is a key policy post, it has been edited for clarity.)
We are changing the system.
As a result of erratic, overlapping, non-congruent public vs private school holidays this year, we have had to rethink the way we do things in the Studio.
In 16 years of well-structured, successful running, the Studio has never had such a challenge to its teaching times, and drawn in its wake, discussions about fees (which are non-negotiable) and catch-up lessons (which are offered but not always accepted).
Traditionally we have always aligned with public school terms (as this is where the majority of our students hail from). However, it is not enough any longer. Public school terms were erratic and badly defined this year (especially in the second term which was nightmarish); private schools base their holidays on three vastly different systems plus random long weekends and mid-term breaks, and it is not possible to accommodate everyone’s school holidays any longer.
For the Violin Studio, there is only one remaining option: To modernize.
Please speak to the guitar teacher to discuss what changes / stays unchanged in the Guitar Studio.
You will receive a structured fees sheet explaining how this works; but essentially:
The studio concerts form a part of the teaching schedule and are, as they are now, mandatory; the rest is optional.
I will archive the current studio rules and link them on the website so that people can refer back.
What does the change in structure mean for you?
It takes being a part of a studio and fairly diligently following an intelligent, interactive program to move ahead on an instrument as complex as the violin. This year alone, three self-taught individuals approached me for lessons, realizing that despite the best internet packages and DVDs, the interaction on 1:1 basis with an experienced teacher is what gets the results.
Unlike the Grapevine selling slices of a cake, what we “sell” is not individual slices of anything.
Unlike course work, where you can get the notes from a colleague if you miss a session or two, you cannot fill in the “gaps” of a violin course on your own. The other half of the equation consists of fine muscles, nerves, increasing stamina, learning to hear certain things, eye-hand-ear coordination, memory, certain movements which have to be exactly right or they never get up to speed; and a host of other things that lie within the student’s body and brain.
You cannot learn violin in one lesson. Or in three, or six, or even ten. You cannot become a champion swimmer by going to one swimming lesson. This is why we sell the whole program, in 1:1 personal undivided attention customized lessons, interactive intelligent development of the whole young musician. And because it is an interactive, ever-changing developmental program rather than a course, a membership is the most practical format for it.
You buy a membership by paying ahead for the term, the semester or even the year.
The membership includes:
- Your weekly or bi-weekly lessons (according to membership type) at a fixed recurring time.
- Two studio concerts a year.
- A number of social studio functions per year – the number varying from year to year.
- Exam preparation and support.
It does not include:
- Exam fees, books, materials.
- Music books or any other required materials.
- The accompanist’s fees during exams.
- Food during functions.
- Extra lessons or rescheduling of lessons missed by the student*.
However, extra lessons can be added as needed for at a specific one-off fee.
We will adopt the following guidelines when defining our Studio year:
Lessons that are offered but not observed, still have to be paid for, according to the current studio rules. The teacher’s time was booked; the teacher can do nothing else with this time. To ride an old metaphor to death, if you buy a MacDonalds burger but throw half of it away, does MacDonalds owe you the money back for half a burger? Do they owe you another half-a-burger? Even catch-up lessons are already a concession by the teacher; according to the current Studio Rules a lesson missed by the student can in general not be caught up. Nevertheless, we are consistently trying to catch up each and every last missed lesson. However if a catch-up lesson is offered but rejected in principle, there is nothing further we can do to help. The missed lesson cannot be refunded anyway.
Following this, it is advisable to mark the active studio term (or alternatively the studio holidays) with highlighter in your year planner.
Lessons expected and not received outside of Studio Term are not missed lessons. It is ludicrous that this even needs to be mentioned. If I buy a burger at MacDonalds and expect a pineapple slice in it, though they never offer one, that doesn’t mean they now owe me a pineapple slice. I’m hoping that the membership model will make this easier to comprehend.
For existing students, essentially nothing changes. If you are paying x amount per month for your lessons now, you’ll be paying x (with inflation-based annual adjustment) per month next year. It is not about the price tag, at all.