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Some helpful ‘do’s’ and ‘don’ts’

Understanding what is involved in learning
Most students learn on a one-on-one basis with a teacher in their home, in a school ‘after –hours’ or in a designated music school. Fees are paid by the ‘term’ of which there are 3 in a year, divided into ‘Autumn’, ‘Spring’ and ‘Summer’ pretty much parallel with the school dates. Primary schools work to the end of June, while Secondary Schools finish in the first days of June (making way for the state examinations of Junior or Leaving Certificate starting in week 2). So, there may be 33 or 37 weeks in your lessons year. Be sure to check the term dates at the outset of the term by having the terms dates with the terms and conditions of the teacher in writing at the start of term so there are no arguments later on!

Terms and Conditions
Also ensure that you understand the missed lessons policy of your school or private teacher. Normally, if you miss a lesson for whatever reason, this will be forfeit and the teacher may make a discretionary choice as to whether to replace this lesson or not. Usually in a music school, this is not possible. If a teacher, however, has to miss or move a lesson, the replacement lesson must be at a mutually convenient time with the student, or the lesson fee would be refunded or credited to next term. If you are attending a private teacher in their or your home, technically the teacher should be insured (for Public Liability). In Ireland this is hardly ever arranged where in other countries, you are prohibited from practising any professional teaching without insurance. Be aware!

Two teachers for double the result?
Occasionally I have found that students or student parents engage the ‘teaching’ of two teachers – perhaps aiming to ‘cover all bases’. The problem here is that whatever about the gains from two teachers contributing to the student’s learning experience, the student usually has only a certain amount of time in a week to allocate to each teacher’s programme – and essentially progress drops to half of what it was before the teacher duplication! Also, as there is such a wide diversity in skills, method and approach between teachers, students are often left confused or annoyed when a hand position for one teacher is negated by the other; or elements of arrangement are disapproved by the other etc etc. If the two teachers are collaborating in the same programme, this might indeed be helpful – so if you wish to invest in two, be discerning in your choice and ensure communication and openness for the best collaboration.