Organizing Student Data

Detailed information on each student is essential. Gather this data at the interview, rather than at the first lesson; parents will appreciate your not taking teaching time for administrative details.

Personal Data

A lot of the information you need will be of the personal type. Of course, you will need the student's name, address, and phone number. Other items you might wish to note:

There are computer programs which you can use to set up a student database, or you can go low tech and do it in a three-ring binder, with each student's having a page.

I do it the latter way because the binder is portable, whereas my computer isn't. I use other sections of the same notebook to keep notes of telephone inquiries, recital notes, etc.

Devise a student audition process and an audition sheet. (Or take notes on the reverse of the student data sheet.)

Repertoire Data

Another type of data you'll need is the student's repertoire. Such a reference tool will be wonderfully convenient when the student transfers from your studio or applies to summer music camps, for scholarships, to college, etc. Again, database software will make this record-keeping task easy, and data can be sorted any way you wish. If you don't want to do it by computer, use 5" x 8" cards.

However you do it, here's information I suggest you keep on each student's repertoire. I'll discuss the card stack solution since each software program will be different.

Each composer has a card, and these are filed alphabetically. Colored cards may be used, one color for each historical period. Composers with large and varied oeuvre will merit several cards. For example, Bach might have individual cards for inventions, suites, and so on. Along with the title/key/catalogue number of each piece, also include date of competition, whether memorized, whether used in competition or in public performance.

Teen-aged students can take care of their own card stack. Get them started at the lesson and assign completion for a home activity. They probably will be surprised to see how much music they have traversed.

For method materials, listing the titles of the books which have been completed is sufficient. At the intermediate level, you may choose to list only selected materials, such as sonatinas, rather than every piece, large and small.

Other Student Data

Depending on your program, you also may have music essays written by the student, competition/evaluation/adjudication reports, etc. to file away. If you write a letter of recommendation for a student, save a copy and put it in the student's file, too. Also include a copy of transfer materials you write on the student and those you receive from the previous teacher.

When the student leaves, cull her file. You may need to keep no more than the transfer materials you prepared when she left your tutelage.

copyright 1998, Martha Beth Lewis, Ph.D.
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