Timekeeping lessons
Clock in your studio?

Connie Sunday said: Apr 11, 2012
Connie SundayViolin, Piano, Viola
667 posts

I’m curious how other teachers keep track of the lesson time in your studios? I don’t wear a watch or ring when I play. For many years I had a large wristwatch on the end of the piano, standing up on the side where I sit, but I found my students with autism perserverated on the time, so I got a large wall clock. It’s currently sitting on a shelf, where my string students can see it. I find that students will sometimes look at it more than I would wish, even students who want more time and really enjoy their lessons.


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Paula Bird said: Apr 11, 2012
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Piano, Viola
Wimberley, TX
386 posts

I placed clocks in my studio on every wall, but I placed them where I can see them but they are not in my students’ line of sight.

Paula E. Bird
TX State University
Wildflower Suzuki Studio
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Lori Bolt said: Apr 12, 2012
Lori Bolt
Suzuki Association Member
San Clemente, CA
226 posts

I have a very small standing clock on my piano which faces me as I sit (the student is at a second piano, in line w/ mine, on my right). Other clocks in the room just happen to be out of the students’ line of sight ~ a happy accident for me, I guess! Older students sometimes have watches that they’ve glanced at (or worse—had an alarm go off!). The next time it happens, I’ll be asking them to remove their watch before the lesson, or simply leave it at home.

Lori Bolt

said: Apr 12, 2012
 48 posts

Several of the rooms at the community music center here have wall clocks with very loud ticks. It’s like a nonstop metronome stuck on ♪ = 60. I’ve also been in homes of people who routinely have chamber music rehearsals in rooms with large grandfather clocks. Very strange, IMHO.

Barb said: Apr 12, 2012
Barb Ennis
Suzuki Association Member
678 posts

We’ve got one of those grandfather clocks—my grandfather made it! And because I teach and play chamber music in my living room…. I have no idea what key it plays in, but it has made for some strange harmonies! Actually, I have the choice of turning off the chimes, but usually forget. The ticking is pretty quiet and has never bothered us.

On that note, at a recent concert I was “backstage” in a church in a room with a loudly ticking clock. I keep meaning to tell the conductor how perfectly he kept the 60 mark on one piece!

When I first got the grandfather clock I liked the way it gave me quarter hour notices without having to look. But after a while I stopped hearing them. The nice thing is that most of my kids can’t read it. The combination of analog and roman numerals…

Before we got the clock I had a small standing clock which I would turn to face me.

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Colleen Lively said: Apr 12, 2012
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Viola
8 posts

For the past several years I have used a small kitchen timer which I set for 30 minutes. The downside is that when it goes off I usually need 2 more minutes to wrap up the lesson. I have tried to set the timer for 28 minutes which lets me know that I have 2 minutes to wrap up the lesson. Also, I usually keep a wall clock or small desk clock within my vision but I position the student so that they cannot see it.


Lori Bolt said: Apr 13, 2012
Lori Bolt
Suzuki Association Member
San Clemente, CA
226 posts

Gotta love those ticking clocks!! I have two which are slightly “unsynced” w/ each other, but have learned to ignore them.

Colleen ~ instead of a timer with a bell which the student can also hear, you could use your cell phone alarm set on vibrate only. It can be heard if it’s not in your pocket, but less so than a timer, I think. You can preset it for all your lesson times that day. I think I’ll use mine next week w/ two sisters so I don’t go over time with the first lesson.

Lori Bolt

Wendy Caron Zohar said: Apr 15, 2012
Wendy Caron Zohar
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Viola
Ann Arbor, MI
94 posts

I have a hand sweep clock on a desk at the other side of my studio facing me so I can see it easily to time my lessons, but it is out of range of my students’ view. (It ticks very softly, which is useful for referencing for a 60 beat when we need it, but can’t be heard the rest of the time.)

One day a week I teach a lineup of students at a distance from my studio, in their homes. To keep on my schedule, I’ve tried different things including looking at my watch, setting my cell phone alarm, and using tricky digital count-down timers which I would forget to set. I have found the most effective is a low-tech windup kitchen egg timer which I keep in my teaching bag. I wind it up the moment I enter the room, and the lesson begins! I set it to ring five minutes before the end of the lesson. It rings quietly and turns itself off, while I tie up ends, review the plan for the next lesson etc., and am out the door.

These seem to work for me.

Wendy Caron Zohar

Celia Jones said: Apr 17, 2012
72 posts

I often lose track of time so I have tried many different things. I used to have a watch that chimed quietly every fifteen minutes, but they are hard to find. My favourite timekeeper is a vibrating stopwatch that I got from the Royal National Institute for the Deaf, priced at 4 pounds. It is lighter weight and easier to set than a mobile phone, and shakes almost silently. You can set it to the minute, more accurate than a wind-up kitchen timer. if The batteries last for months and months. It clips onto a belt or most of the time I have it on my wrist in a mobile phone purse which is much softer than a watch. To reset it I can just press a button through the purse and other people notice they assume it’s a mobile and that I am dismissing a call.


Julia said: Apr 17, 2012
Julia ProleikoViolin, Piano, Viola
Saint Louis, MO
22 posts

I have a large atomic clock on my studio wall and it has resolved many problems. Here are my experiences and thoughts:

  1. When I first began teaching, I often got parents who would run behind, show up late and then claim that it was my clock that was off and demand that I give them the time. The problem immediately stopped when I got the atomic clock. Instead, some of them actually would set their clocks to mine. Of course, most of this became moot when everybody starting carrying cell phones (only to have other issues, of course), but it is nice that the time is non-negotiable.

  2. If a student is watching the clock, I use it as an indication that either the lesson is 2 minutes past being over and I need to spend the rest of the time with the parent in how to help at home, etc. OR I need to make a change—whether in subtle positioning, overtly asking them if they’re late for a date or switching gears in what we are working on i.e. sit down, move, stand up…. (The longer I teach, the more I am able to not feel pressured into spending every last second working with the child—a big THANK YOU to all of my teacher trainers!!)

  3. If there is a habit of looking at the clock (I have some that are almost OCD with time), I generally position them with their backs to the clock and then devote attention to training them to stay present in what they are doing (usually by having them play, listen, and answer and ask questions non-stop, which is usually the goal anyway). In my experience, this happens the most with the kids who are overbooked and always in a hurry to get to their next activity.

  4. I try hard to not be constantly looking at the clock. I remember having a teacher that spent the entire lesson glancing at his watch—it made me feel terrible! Not only do I not want to repeat it, but I don’t want to teach it.

  5. I find ways to combine lessons: having the next student be the audience or teacher and then switching roles or a myriad of other games. Some students look so much forward to working with the student before or after them that they lose track of the time (which I always take as a compliment) and the arrival of the next student is the indication of the end of their lesson. (I ask my students to come 10 minutes early to get themselves and their instruments ready, observe and often participate.)

  6. When I don’t combine, I almost always end with theory. For my students, theory is their favorite part and something they beg to do. I always “reward” them with theory at the end of the lesson and if they know that they end with theory, they are comfortable with that being the indication of when the lesson is over as well.

  7. I never wanted to be the kind of teacher that shut the lesson off like a parking meter running out of change, but I have found (through being a parent, observing other teachers teach and working with my own students), that it is a real gift to be able to mold a perfect lesson in a bite-size chunk that leaves the student yearning for more the next week, the parent or child not overwhelmed (or underwhelmed), the schedule not threatened, and yet give the right amount of material to cover for the amount of time until I see them again. The most amazing lesson I ever witnessed of this was taught by a woman who had been teaching for over 50 years (so I guess I still have time! <img src=" />. I think with me personally, it is less about time than about how best to fill it.

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