I believe that it’s extremely important in any student / parent / teacher relationship to keep the lines of communication open. Everyone should be clear on when appointments are scheduled, where they are with lesson payments, what goes on in lessons and what is expected of the student in terms of preparation and practise in between sessions. To make sure this all happens, I use a number of different communication tools:
I manage all of my lessons, rehearsals and other appointments using Google Calendar. Not only does this minimise the chance of me accidentally double-booking or making other similar mistakes, but it also generates an automatic email to the other person involved in that session telling them:
Lesson date and time
Payment schedule info
SMS Text Notifications
The day before lessons with me, students and parents receive a text message reminder. This helps to avoid people missing lessons, and acts as a prompt for students to check their lesson time on the Google Calendar email that would have been sent out as the lesson was booked. I also occasionally include information on these messages that is relevant to my students, such as holiday dates and plans for student concerts etc.
Lesson Notes on Google Drive
On their very first session with me, every student is assigned a document on Google Drive that is used to track their progress and as a reference for the work that they need to be doing between sessions. This document is then updated in each and every lesson: as the lesson progresses I will make notes on my laptop of the exercises and pieces that we’ve worked on, what I would like the student to practise and how they can improve. I sometimes include weblinks to my YouTube channel and other useful resources online.
These lesson notes are shared with all email addresses associated with the student: this could be personal addresses, school or work addresses, and those of parents / guardians. All recipients can then see the notes, and put in their own comments for me to read. Some students find this a useful way to record their practise sessions and track how much time they are spending working on their instrument or voice.
Social Media & Blog
I have profiles on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, and a blog on this website that I encourage students and parents to interact with. Although the information I post on these channels is not lesson-critical or personal, they often contain links and information that may interest students and their contacts. Posts are always related to music in some way and have included instruments for sale, flyers for local events, notices about the availability of my lesson slots, fascinating articles on many different aspects of musical performance and theory, videos of performances (including those of my students) etc etc.
Email, Text and Calls
I am contactable by email, text or via an old-fashioned phonecall. If students or parents have a brief query or would like to rearrange their lesson time, I would recommend contacting me by text message (my phone is set to silent while I am teaching). For longer questions then you can always email me or send a message via this website. And, of course, if your child is having a lesson then my door is always open for you to pop in and have a chat in person.