For our parents

Our vision is to work with our parents and carers to create the best possible musical opportunities for all.

We are proud of our instrumental tuition, where every musician is treated as an individual. We go above and beyond with our support - every musician is part of our musical family. Our vision is to ensure everyone makes the best progress possible.

How we support our musicians….

With your help, is the simple answer.

We need to work with you, so that all musicians have the best individual support possible.

  • Let us know about their musical tastes
  • Let us know what they are feeling about their lessons
  • Get them to talk to one of us – Mrs Pearson, me, Miss Iles, their teacher and so on.
  • If they are worried, let us know.
  • If they want to do something in particular within music, let us know. We are not mind readers and often need reminding!!

Being a musician takes hard work, determination and commitment. Regular practice, listening to music they are working on, praise and encouragement from you. For us to support musicians properly, they need to be committed and reliable.

Most importantly, being a musician is fun. They should join in, to get the most out of what we can offer.

I always say:

The more the musicians put in to our department and musical family, the more we can give you in return. It is a two way process all the time.


What to do if you cannot make a

lesson time

Timetables are organised carefully, so that all students are accommodated. If you cannot make a lesson, or have a specific request for the next week:

  • Speak to your teacher a week in advance to let them know. They might be able to change your time
  • If short notice, speak to Mrs Pearson in the music office. There might be nothing she can do.

For House Sports and other all day in school events, come to your lesson as normal.

On the day requests cannot be accommodated, as it is too short notice.

Learning an instrument / to sing at

Simon Balle School

We hope that your child will gain many hours of pleasure by learning to play an instrument at Simon Balle School.

Learning to play an instrument is one of the most challenging and rewarding activities your child will undertake and this leaflet sets out some of the information you may need to support your child.

Care of the Instrument

Care of the instrument is vital. In the event that a repair is necessary, please take it to the teacher who may be able to help, but if not, will advise where to have it fixed. We strongly recommend you do not attempt repairs yourself – things are often less serious than they appear, and a wrong move could damage the instrument.

Security

Security is very important. Do please ensure that your child’s name and form are clearly attached to the instrument case. Ascertain the value of the instrument from your child’s teacher and insure it with a specialist insurer. Details are also available from the school. Not all home contents’ policies are sufficiently comprehensive. Instruments are not covered by school insurance whilst on the premises. There is an instrumental store in the music centre where instruments are left at your own risk.

Timetables

Timetables are completed by the instrumental teachers and are always on display on the Music notice board. It is the responsibility of the pupil to check the lesson time every week and ensure that they attend on time. Where there is a change of day, we always try to ensure that you are informed by telephone or email.

Music and Instruments

From time to time the teacher will ask for you to purchase some music. Fair warning will be given, but it will be expected that wherever possible, the music will be purchased – if there are problems you should contact the teacher. Always take the recommendation of the teacher before buying or hiring an instrument – we have years of experience and can prevent you ending up with what the shop want to get rid of! It is far cheaper to purchase through the school – you can save the cost of the VAT. Do ask!

Credits

33 lessons are taught within 39 weeks in the school year. There will therefore be weeks when a lesson is not taught – we do ensure that 33 lessons in total are taught in the school year. Invoices are issued once a term, each for 11 lessons. More or fewer lessons may be taught in the term, but 33 will be offered in each year. Teachers are required to keep a detailed record of a pupil’s attendance that we use as our source of information for any queries about the accounts.

Lessons

When the teacher is available and the pupil does not attend, the lesson is forfeited and no refund can be made. When the teacher is not available the lesson can be made up at a future date or alternatively the fee will be credited. Students are expected to inform their teacher of school trips etc at least a week in advance, otherwise the lesson will not be made up. You can always email information to us.

Tuition and Termination of Lessons

Invoices for lessons are issued in advance every term and prompt payment is expected. Lessons can only be discontinued at the end of a term and parents are required to give 11 lessons’ written or email notice to the instrumental teacher of termination or to pay 11 lessons fees in lieu of notice.

Reports

The teacher will suggest the way to record work and make comments and give messages to parents. You will be formally advised of how your child is progressing during the year.

Communication and concert dates

We believe that regular communication is the key to progress – please ensure we have your correct email so we can stay in touch. It really makes a difference. Our concerts are well publicised on our website and in newsletters – we do expect everyone involved to attend. Our ethos of commitment has to be taken very seriously.

Practice – vital!

Practice is the vital ingredient in learning a musical instrument, just as training is vital to learning to play football. Practice should be fun and should lead to their enjoyment of music through the improving of their ability. There will be times when they really do not want to practise and may even hate playing your instrument because of it (oh yes, we have all been there!). But – if they do not practice, they will not get any better.

Musicians – Top Tips for Practice…

  • Practise regularly and often, rather than once a week for half an hour just before your lesson. The length of practice will be suggested by the teacher but 3 x 20 minutes per week is suggested to start with. When you get above Grade 5 standard, you should be looking at 30 minutes per day, 6 days a week.
  • Take note of what your instrumental teachers have said and practise what they want you to practise, not what you want to practise!
  • Set aside a regular time of the day to practise. Avoid being distracted and really concentrate, even if only for 15 minutes.
  • If you play a wind instrument, you may have been told to play long notes first. This is to improve your playing, not to sound an alarm to others that you are about to play!
  • Scales and arpeggios are an important element of music. They are what music is all about. Therefore, you are not being asked to learn them as a punishment. You will be amazed that if you know all your scales, you will find it easier to sight-read and play music.
  • You will be amazed at how much better you will get in just a short space of time. Remember, lesson time is not for practice. Now, how many weeks have you been working on that piece?

As a parent or carer, how can I help?

Take a regular interest in what they are practising….

This is the single most important thing you can do. Students who are left to their own devices are the students who progress the slowest. All children at some time need nagging and nagging and nagging to get them to practise. There is usually a ‘low’ point in their musical life when they will be bored with the instrument. However, with your help, they will get through that.

You can also:

  • Give them a regular time to practise during the week and get others in the family to leave them to it
  • Listen to them practise and give them encouragement
  • Make sure that there is a music stand for their music
  • Nag them during the ‘low’ times!
  • Read through their practice book and make sure they are doing what has been asked
  • Remind them on the day of their lesson and ask what the lesson time is
  • Ask them what was done in the instrumental lesson when they get home.
  • Even the smallest bit of regular encouragement can make all the difference.

After all, you invest heavily in the cost of lessons and instruments. Why not protect your investment?

Information for students – please go through this with them!

Your music lessons:

You are responsible for checking your music lesson time each week. When looking at the timetable, check you have the correct

Date

Time

Write it down on your ipad or practice book.

If your music lesson is at the same time as something that you really cannot miss you should speak to your instrumental teacher. If they are not in school, come and see Mrs Pearson in the music office at break time.

If you know you are on a school trip when you should have a music lesson, it is your responsibility to tell your teacher at least a week in advance. If you do not do this, you will miss the lesson and it will not be made up.

If you forget your instrument or music, still attend your lesson!

Check your school email at least once a day – that is the way we will tell you of any changes to your lesson times. It is the way we will get messages to you.

If you are ill, please get someone to ring in and tell us. 01992 410408

And finally……Enjoyment!

There will always be difficult moments when learning an instrument, but essentially it should be fun! The most satisfying way to make music is by playing with others and it is a vital part of progress. Indeed, it is seen as an extension of the actual lesson. Groups run at lunchtimes and after school throughout the week and encompass most of the instruments taught. Details of relevant ensembles are available from your child’s instrumental teacher and on the music notice board. It is part of our work, our aim and our ethos that every musician participates in a weekly ensemble if appropriate.

Being a young musician requires both determination and self-discipline but it is almost unparalleled in terms of the rewards and satisfaction it can bring. Years of pleasure lie ahead for your child and we hope both you and your child enjoy this time.