How do you handle transfer students who have gaps in their knowledge?


Daniel: “How do you handle transfer students who have gaps in their knowledge? Most of my transfer students have poor sight-reading skills, but are at a level way beyond what they can sight-read.”

Okay. Super honest here, if someone gets in touch with me and is a transfer, a lot of times I won’t even see them. I will get on the phone with that parent and kind of grill them as to their student. If it sounds like they’ll be a good student, I’ll have them in. And I’ve gotten some good transfer students. We have a couple really good music schools near here, and so there are professors who teach. And sometimes a professor will dump some students because their teaching load has gotten too… and I’ll pick up some of the students, and I love to get those kids. On the other hand, then you have the regular experience that you have.

So, I won’t even let transfers in a lot of times. I just don’t want to clean the mess up. However, there was a time that I did, and what I will say to that is I have no problem bumping them back. And I will go with a different method book than what they’re already in. I found that a lot of times when students were having those troubles, they were in Alfred or John Thompson, or something like that, and so I just switch them to Faber and then bump them back a level or two. Or, if they were already in Faber, I would have them do supplemental books or I would put them in a different series or something like that.

And again, this is probably what a lot of you think, but it is possible to play any song perfectly the very first time that you play it, if you just go slow enough or if the music is easy enough. For me, I want the lesson environment to be one where the kid is having a casual, fun time. You cannot do that if you’re straining your brain to 110% of capacity all the time. If I start a kid from the beginning, they never get to that point. If a kid comes in and they’re strained, I have to bump them to a place where they can play the music and sight-read the music. So a kid’s in level three, and I have to bump them back to two A, then so be it. But it’s just easier not to deal with that now. I know that isn’t everyone’s case, so I’m telling you what I do, and I’m telling you what I have done in the past.

The big differentiator for me has been the marketing. And I’m not going to get into the whole marketing aspect of this, but when you have a lot of people contacting you for lessons, it affords you choices that you didn’t have before. And so, I want to be very careful that I’m being honest about what I’m doing now, but also tell you what I’ve done in the past when things weren’t quite as good as they were in terms of the marketing and what I did at that point in time. I know the make up of teachers here, there are some people that might be able to utilize what I’m doing now, there might be people that because of your situation or you’re just getting started in your marketing journey, it might be better that you do what I did 10 years ago. So, just want to mention that.

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