Students Forgetting Materials for Lessons

Katherine said: Jul 15, 2014
Suzuki Association Member
75 posts

This seems to be becoming an increasingly common problem among my students in the past 2 months, perhaps summertime is the culprit. I have students coming to lesson at times with no Suzuki book, no assignment book or other materials. Of course the parent is along too, but regardless, items have been forgotten, or misplaced/accidentally left somewhere, etc.

Any suggestions on how to help students/parents get more organized?! I think I am about to send an e-mail to all suggesting they maintain a bag where all these items are placed and give their child responsibility for checking the bag before leaving for the lesson.

Liz Biswas said: Jul 15, 2014
Liz Biswas
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Viola
Waterloo, ON
3 posts

Our Suzuki school did an order with a local screen printing company for music bags. Kids had the option of embroidering their names on the bag as well. Stuff doesn’t get forgotten as much these days. The bags are big enough for a folding stand and music folio.

Gwen McKeithen said: Jul 16, 2014
Suzuki Association Member
Sonoma, CA
11 posts

Some teachers have a list of materials that the new family must collect before the first lesson. A tote bag dedicated to the music which needs to come to a lesson is on the list, along with the Suzuki book, reading curriculum, notepad or spiral notebook for taking notes, footstool, instrument, etc. Parents gather the materials during their observation period before they ever have a first lesson. The observation period is the time begin listening to the recording. Lessons may begin after all materials are collected.

The policy in my studio is that both parent and child check the bag to make sure everything is in the bag before coming to a lesson. This has worked better than having only the child or only the parent responsible for getting everything to the lesson. I don’t like to start a lesson making the parent or the young student wrong for not having all their materials. And while the reality is that not everyone gets to every lesson with everything that they need, mostly, they do.

Gwen McKeithen

Katherine said: Jul 16, 2014
Suzuki Association Member
75 posts

Thank you for your responses! A tote bag will be on my list from now on for new students. I guess it seemed obvious to me, so I never explicitly listed it. I do also like the idea of recommending that both check the bag, especially for kids under 10. Definitely agree it is not desirable to start off a lesson with anyone feeling to blame…and of course there are times when things are forgotten despite an organizational system.

Alexandra said: Jul 17, 2014
Alexandra Jacques
Suzuki Association Member
Mesa, AZ
35 posts

Having a bag for all of the supplies for lessons definitely helps, but things will still be forgotten. I do try to keep extra supplies on hand, such as sponge shoulder rests, rosin, paper for taking notes, etc. for this. I have noticed that some students tend to rely on the fact that I’ll let them borrow things in my studio during their lessons, and will come to lesson after lesson without their shoulder rest, for example. Maybe it doesn’t teach the student much about responsibility to have extra supplies for them to borrow during the lesson, but I’d rather that then have a student playing without a shoulder rest.

Out of curiosity, what do you all do if a student forgets their instrument? I’ve found that with younger students, there are other things you can do without the instrument, but as they get older, it’s hard to fill up the time that they should be playing their instrument. Do you have any activities or books that you use if/when this happens?

Jennifer Visick said: Jul 18, 2014
Jennifer VisickForum Moderator
Suzuki Association Member
Viola, Suzuki in the Schools, Violin
998 posts

No instrument for older students, there is still plenty to do…
- Music Theory Lesson
- Composition and/or how to use music engraving software Lesson
- Sight signing & Rhythmic Training (think Robert Starer) Lesson
- Audiation Lesson
- Lecture on The Physics of Music
- Music History Lesson
- Performance / Listening lesson: how and what to listen for…
- Parents: read this article from the latest SAA journal…
- How-To-Optimize-Your-Practice-Session Lesson
- How to organize your time at home, create practice goals, and practice/homework calendars…
- In depth discussion of how not to forget the instrument next time
- Story time: what happened when I forgot my instrument once…

Barb said: Jul 18, 2014
Barb Ennis
Suzuki Association Member
678 posts

Great ideas! Liz, when you talked about screen printing a bag I at first envisioned that the bag would have a check-list printed on it of what should be included inside!

If you routinely need to loan items forgotten, maybe you could try “charging” students for borrowing. If you have a system where they earn “Bach Bucks” or something to buy rewards with, you could collect some of those. If not, maybe you could charge them by requiring them to play extra scales for you or some kind of extra homework. Or bring chocolate to the next lesson. :-)

There was a time when I thought a student had “forgotten” to bring a book because she hadn’t practiced that assignment. She learned that I have copies of all books I teach from!

Forgotten bow? I’ve done it myself a few times! Fortunately, I have some spares—though yes, we could have focused on left hand and used pizz. I think only one student has forgotten an instrument. They lived close by, and were able to return for it while the sibling had a lesson.

My students tend to be pretty good about keeping everything in a tote bag and bringing it all along. Though I’ve told them they don’t need to bring their Christmas music all year—at least they haven’t lost it! They don’t just gather things on their way to a lesson, they use the bag to store things between practicing. Only once in a while do things accidentally get left on the stand at home. I have one mother who counts items on her way out the door. :-)

Music Teachers Helper—for individual teachers
Studio Helper—for entire music studios or schools

Elise Winters said: Jul 19, 2014
Elise Winters
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Viola
Austin, TX
37 posts

Great ideas!! Thanks especially to Gwen for the idea of having “both” student & parent be responsible for bringing materials, and to Jennifer to the awesome list of things to do when there is no instrument. Those would also be great to keep on hand for when a student sprains a wrist, etc.

Danielle Gomez Kravitz said: Jul 20, 2014
Danielle Gomez Kravitz
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Viola
59 posts

No supplies means an all sight reading and review class =)

Usually I spend about half the time drilling some nitpicky technique and the other half reading through non-Suzuki stuff. I tell them if they’d like to learn more preview sections then they’ll have to bring their materials next time.

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