Approaching schools…

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Rebecca said: Mar 6, 2010
Rebecca SchiblerViolin, Viola
24 posts

I was wondering if anyone could offer me some advice as to how to best approach local private schools with the idea of starting a violin program for their students.
Should I try calling or email first or go directly to the school?
I have tried emailing local community centers with proposals before and never get a response- I am not sure why!
The reason I say private schools is that I’d guess that public schools have more strings attached and it would be a more difficult process.
I remember reading something about someone else doing this, so I know it can be done- but how?
Any advice would be appreciated!

“Music exists for the purpose of growing an admirable heart.” -Dr. Suzuki

Ruth Brons said: Mar 7, 2010
Ruth Brons
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Viola
Livingston, NJ
148 posts

Hi Becky,
I have been fortunate to have always been able to find a private school to teach in.
I have relocated cities several times, and started the search each time by mailing a cover letter and resume to ALL the private schools within an acceptable radius [I used http://www.switchboard.com to generate the list].
The you can follow up with a phone call to request a meeting to just chat with the headmaster.

Before you do meet with a headmaster to pitch your program, below are a few issues you should have thought through:

  1. Private schools need to have space available for you to use. For private lessons, even a converted closet might do; group lessons will need an actual classroom and piano.
  2. Private schools need to know you will provide a service that is desired by the parents; are other instrumental lessons offered? do you already have a student attending this school?
  3. Some private schools will allow you to “borrow” kids one at a time from their classes during lunch, recess, or “choice” times—or any other time that is ok with the classroom teacher. Others only allow before or after school instruction. Period “zero”, btw, happens before school, and can be a good alternative to after school to offer group classes.
  4. Some private schools may charge a percentage or flat fee as rent, while others may not.
    Some schools will handle the billing for you, while others will not. Most private schools are looking for a “zero budget” program, meaning it will not cost them any money to run.
  5. Once in the school, recruiting can be done by visiting classrooms for a short demo, or by inviting your students [or even borrowed students] to help present a group concert assembly once a year. In my area the public schools have off the first Friday in November each year for the state teacher conference, so that is the day we do our annual Big Violin Assembly, where I combine the private school kids with other students.
  6. Some private schools will allow non-school students to fill in your after school schedule, while others may not.
  7. A great source of lay-of-the-land info at a private school is the music teacher, so a phone call or meeting with him or her is always helpful before meeting with the headmaster.

Best Wishes,

Ruth Brons
Inventor of Bow Hold Buddies[tm] and
CelloPhant[tm] Instant Bow Hold bow accessories
http://www.things4strings.com

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