Good Music Lessons | What Happens in Staff Meetings

This content was created for Curtis Music Academy

Hello and welcome to another episode of the Curtis Music Academy Podcast. I hope you’re having a wonderful day and are excited to tune in for another episode. Today I wanted to talk about some of the stuff that goes on behind the scenes of Curtis Music Academy. Specifically, I wanted to talk about communication between instructors and staff, most of which happens at our weekly staff meetings on Thursday nights. We conduct these meetings here at Curtis Music Academy after all good music lessons have been completed for the day, if instructors have a lesson that finishes at a time close enough to the meeting they may just stay at the studio until it is time for the meeting to begin, and instructors who finished their lessons earlier in the day will return from whatever else they have been doing in the interim between their lessons and this meeting.

These are a more relaxed time here at Curtis Music Academy, the minutes before the meeting and the first few minutes of the meeting are just spent catching up with each other, talking about what may be going on in each other’s’ lives, both within and outside of the world of Curtis Music Academy and teaching good music lessons. There is generally also a meal provided by the Curtis’s either purchased from a restaurant or that Ms. Curtis makes herself, and all the staff get the opportunity to share that together. Then the meeting comes to order around the table in the meeting room that during the day serves as a catchall for beverages, paperwork, or whatever else any visitors or staff use it for.

There is an agenda provided by Ron to ensure that all relevant issues are addressed and discussed. The first thing that is gone over is the ice-breaker questions to ask the students for the week. This is typically a silly “would you rather” type question, and the staff go around and give their answers and reasoning just for general amusement of the room. Then each instructor gives their star student of the week. This is not necessarily their best student, but a student the instructor feels deserves recognition, either for diligent practice, great focus and questions in good music lessons, rapid improvement over a short period of time, or whatever else they feel has made that student stand out above the crowd for any reason that week.

The instructors may choose a new one each week, or the same student may be the star more than once if they continue to excel in whatever aspect stands out to their instructor. The purpose of this is for there to be a record of those students that their instructors feel deserve recognition so that they may receive it, whether that be in a conversation the next time they run into Ron at the studio, or when the administrative assistant performs a tri-monthly call to discuss the students’ thoughts, questions, and/or concerns about how good music lessons are going. We think that it’s very important to provide positive reinforcement for positive habits and actions in order to encourage them to continue.

After this, the staff addresses any and all concerns of the week. These can include things like scheduling issues and needs. If there are staff members that are leaving soon, their students need to be transferred to a new instructor, and there are constantly things in the lives of both students and instructors that necessitate changes to lesson times. Additionally, new students are always being added to the Curtis Music Academy roster, and we need to find a time that best suits them while also honoring the prior obligations of our instructors to their existing students. This is also the time to adjust logistical issues.

For example, during the COVID-19 public health crisis this year, we offered students the option to transition their good music lessons completely online. Some students chose to do this and continued their regularly scheduled lessons over a new medium, but this required discussion with our staff about which applications, cameras, and procedures to use for this. We also had many students who chose to stop their lessons for a few months, and then there had to be discussion about how to prepare the studio when both those who had moved online and those who had stopped their lessons were ready to return to the studio, and how to still provide fantastic instruction while also honoring social distancing and cleanliness rules and expectations. We also had many students fall in love with online lessons and ask if they could stay online indefinitely, so there was a staff discussion on how to accommodate that.

Staff meetings are also used to discuss procedures and practices that help us be better as an academy and provide better instruction to all of our students. For example, one of the newest additions to our programs have been the student tracker sheets, which are online documents for each student where the instructor records what material the student covered, as well as additional notes about the good music lessons and recommendations for the following lessons. But we had to have a discussion with our staff about how to implement these, because before we used them, most of our staff did not keep their phones or laptops with them while they were teaching the lesson.

And there was discussion on how to integrate that in while still ensuring the students received the best instruction possible for the duration of their good music lessons, but also without extending each lesson over its scheduled time, because our instructors often have back to back lessons scheduled at our studio. So as a collaborative group, when changes or issues such as this arrive, there is a discussion and brainstorming of suggestions, and everyone is encouraged to share what they think would create the best outcomes for the students, and then others are able to tweak or add on to that idea until a decision is met. After addressing all the questions, issues, and changes that may have popped up that week, the meeting is adjourned. That is just a little bit of what goes on behind the scenes at Curtis Music Academy to ensure the best possible lessons for all of our students. Thank you so much for joining me.