POLICIES DOCUMENT (applies to music lessons at Biddlesden Road setting)
1. Inclusion Policy
ALL are welcome and have a right to music education. As such, I will endeavour to make the adjustments and customise requirements necessary to ensure every student has FULL ACCESS to the learning environment and its facilities.
Lessons can be provided regardless of:
- Gender identity
- Sexual orientation
- Ethnic origin or identity
- Religious or spiritual beliefs
- Cultural background or lifestyle choices
- Physical or learning difficulties, disabilities, or perceived different abilities
- Preferred language (spoken or other)
- Age or experience
The teacher will NOT communicate directly with students under the age of 18 outside of the lesson. All texts, emails, online assignments and practice recordings must be sent through the parent or guardian’s device with their consent and supervision. Any communication received from a student under 18 will be sent back to the parent or guardian. Please do not be offended if I do not add you to my list of contacts on social media.
I am not considered to be an organisation and therefore I am not required to answer to the current Data Protection Acts (1988, 2018) in the same way. However, please be assured that the information you provide is:
- essential to the safe and effective provision of lessons
- securely locked away out of sight
- not seen or used by anyone but me
- only used to facilitate the lessons you have paid for.
- Sensitive (fully identifying) data you have provided me is destroyed on termination of lessons.
- Your contact details are NOT used to inform you of other services I provide, courses I run, or supplementary activities that might be of interest or value to you UNLESS you write to me to say you want me to notify you. You can then choose whether you receive a TEXT or an EMAIL or a LETTER. You can opt out of receiving this information at any time just by letting me know.
- Your information is NEVER SHARED, SOLD, OR PUBLISHED.
- It will never be transferred, copied or stored in any form other than the way it was provided.
3. Computer and Online Policy
As a teacher, it is important that I provide supervised access to online services that support the student’s learning activities. This might include carefully selected YouTube videos of performances or Spotify tracks of repertoire. Music technology for recording musical ideas, performances for practice or study, and for composing may also be provided for supervised use. Each of these activities will form a small but essential part of the overall curriculum.
Internet access will NOT be provided to visitors or students, so please do not ask. I do NOT encourage use of the phone, apps, or social media during lesson time and ask that all students and their guardians turn off ringers or sound effects that might disrupt the lesson.
I DO encourage use of search engines like Google to facilitate research and discovery assignments. It is made very clear that all use of the computer required for homework or practice should be supervised by the parent or guardian. This is especially true when I ask the student to look for recordings or performances of certain tracks or musical styles. I rarely recommend a specific recording because this would be limiting the exposure to the wealth of alternative performances and interpretations out there. As such, please ensure your child is supervised when exploring music and resources online.
4. Behaviour Policy
Bullying is not tolerated. I usually teach one student at a time, but there are occasions when more than one child is in the setting. Bullying is defined as any act that makes another person feel uncomfortable, threatened, emotionally upset, or physically harmed. If I witness a student acting in a way that I consider to be bullying then I reserve the right to immediately terminate lessons. No refund for outstanding lessons paid for in the term will be offered. I will, as required, consult the Safeguarding Lead at SSBC for further advice and reporting procedures.
All students are welcome to come to me for music lessons. This includes children that might be considered vulnerable, and children that might experience behavioural difficulties. In providing lessons for a diverse community of students, I will endeavour to help each child manage their expectations and support their progress each lesson. It can be helpful for parents and guardians to discuss with me some of the issues that might arise and cause upset in a learning environment or setting like mine. I am happy to make changes to support the needs of each student.
Some students have known and unknown ‘triggers’ that can generate behaviour that is more difficult to manage. Should the teacher feel that the student is becoming distressed, then the lesson might take a different direction, leading to other activities. Signs that a student is struggling with their behaviour might include:
- Physically withdrawing from the instrument or setting
- Moving too close (breaching personal space) to me or another person in the room
- Self-soothing actions (eg. rocking, stroking, tapping, guarding, humming, whining)
- An altered tone or volume of voice
- Sudden aggressive or defensive actions
Should I feel physically threatened, I will need to stop the lesson and move away to a safer space. I will ask the supervising carer to take their child home. I am happy to teach students from all backgrounds, regardless of physical, emotional, or learning needs, but I must ensure everyone in the setting is safe at all times.
5. Codes of Conduct
Lessons that are conducted in my home will be provided with a similar level of professionalism and attention to health and safety requirements as you would expect in a school. However, please be mindful that the setting is my home that I share with my husband and child. Please ensure that your child(ren) and other carers are careful and respectful of my home, its furnishings and items you see around the setting. Should visitors that come to my home for lessons damage any items, I would expect them to repair, replace or compensate for my loss. Please note that the teacher cannot be held responsible for the loss or damage of any items that are brought into the setting.
Children are naturally inquisitive and energetic. Sometimes this can be expressed with lots of noise. As this is a learning environment, I ask that all children come to the lesson ready to sit, listen, ask questions, play the instrument when asked, and perform other activities that are relevant to their learning. The teacher reserves the right to cut lessons short should the child appear too tired or unwilling to continue. As your lesson fees cover a time slot, you will not be eligible for any refund in these circumstances.
Etiquette – Music lessons often lead to performances of favourite pieces. There are long-standing and traditional etiquettes accompanying the act of music-making that I encourage all students to follow:
- Applaud (clap) as the performer arrives at the instrument to begin playing
- Be quiet, still, and attentive to the music as the performer plays
- Do not interrupt the performance, even if the performer makes errors
- When the performance ends, the performer looks to the audience
- The audience then claps enthusiastically and may give positive feedback
- The performer is encouraged to take a bow in gratitude for the audience support.
These may seem quite old fashioned and stem from a Western Classical cultural norm. However, I encourage it as a behaviour I would like all my students and their parents to adopt, as it is positive and supportive for all the children involved. Performing is nerve-wracking, even when you’re experienced. As a community of musicians and ‘apprentice-musicians’, it is important we support each other to feel more comfortable with our music-making and music-sharing. There are times when I will ask for a critical analysis of performances as part of the learning activities. Unkind or non-constructive feedback is still not permitted.
Should a student confide in me that they are being bullied, or make remarks that suggest to me that they might be a victim of abuse, I will follow the 7Rs procedure that is common to many educational establishments:
- Receive – I will listen to the child in their own words
- Reassure – I will reassure the child I have heard them, understand them and that I have taken what they’ve said seriously (believed them). I will inform them that I will not keep it a secret between us, but that I will only tell the specially trained individuals that can help.
- Respond – I will respond to the child by listening but I will not ask any leading questions.
- Report – I will report the allegations immediately to the DSL at SSBC by dialling 01823 355803
- Record – I will use standard diagrams, indicators, and write down in the child’s words exactly what was said. These documents will be locked away and remain so unless called into evidence by authorised parties. This is in accordance with procedures and the Data Protection Act (1988, 2018)
- Remember – To follow the above procedures
- Review (led by DSL) – I will provide my contact details should I be required to discuss this matter or hand over evidence in the future.
If I suspect abuse or bullying of a child that I teach, I will use the Government’s guidelines on information sharing by determining the following:
- Is there a clear and legitimate purpose for sharing information?
- Is the information confidential?
- Do I have consent?
- Is there another reason to share information such as to fulfill a public function or to protect the vital interests of the information subject?
Indicators that I must consider as potential signs of abuse include:
- Marks to ‘low-vulnerability’ areas of the body such as the face, arms, neck, or trunk
- Sudden weight loss or ongoing unkempt appearance
- Dramatic changes to usual behaviour such as withdrawing or aggressiveness
- Receiving excessive/offensive messages on mobile devices
- Active interest in racist or extremist causes
- Active promotion of viewpoints that are not conducive to the diverse and inclusive policies of my teaching
Each of these indicators would be reported through the Safeguarding process.
7. Health & Safety and Risk Assessment Policy
My home is the setting for the lessons. As such, my family may be in the building during the lessons. They have a knock-once-and-enter procedure in place during lesson times. The door to the room is made of clear glass so they can see into the lesson setting at all times. As my child is a permanent resident in the home, I would ask that all visitors and students please consider his health and safety as well as their own when here. Please do not leave bags or trip-hazards unattended. Please keep your shoes on at all times and make use of the door mat. Please do not visit other areas of my home that are private. Please do not take my personal items or unnecessarily handle them. Please do not attend lessons if you have been off school due to illness in the past 48 hours. Please DO wash your hands with antibacterial soap before touching the instruments (if you do not bring your own) to protect all other users.
The room in which I teach has a grand piano. As such, the room is carefully climate-controlled to protect the instrument and support the correct tuning. The room should be a comfortable level of temperature and humidity for all. If you feel too warm, please ask before attempting to open any doors or windows. Water can be provided for refreshment on hot days.
Although I am not considered to be an organisation, I would report any incidences of illness that are common to many pupils within a similar time frame to my local GP’s office. The room is regularly wiped down with Dettol, and the piano keys are also hygienically cleansed each day. It is not practical to do this between uses in the same day, so please consider your own hand hygiene before and after lessons.
All students will be taught how to handle their instrument and my instruments correctly. Close attention is paid to safety and body posture. YOUR CHILD WILL NEVER BE TOUCHED BY THE TEACHER. Instead, the teacher will model (demonstrate) the corrections themselves, and verbally coach your child to adopt the correct position. DEROGATORY OR INAPPROPRIATE TERMS FOR BODY PARTS WILL NEVER BE USED. However, it is essential to the health, safety, and ongoing welfare of your child that the teacher asks for changes to their posture, movements, or positioning of their body. This will include the limbs, sitting bones, trunk and spinal column, neck, shoulders, head, ankles, feet, wrists, hands and fingers.
Regular, healthy, and varied exercises are encouraged for all students. There are many different exercises that support the young musician’s physical development too. These are ESSENTIAL to reduce any risk of injury and to promote excellent technique and handling of the instrument. Please SUPPORT AND ENCOURAGE YOUR CHILD to perform these exercises regularly. Some exercises that are commonly beneficial for all musicians include:
Deep, controlled breathing – stand (or sit, or lay) with feet hip-width apart, relaxing the shoulders. Breathe in for 4 counts, hold for 2 counts, then out for 6 counts. Try to breathe deeply into the tummy area (diaphragm) rather than raising the shoulders from a shallow breath.
Stretching the upper body – stand (or sit) with feet hip-width apart. Raise the arms slowly from the side with palms up until the palms meet high above your head. Lower them again to your sides in a slow, controlled motion. You can combine this exercise with the breathing exercise above.
Rolling the shoulders – stand (or sit) with feet hip-width apart. Roll the shoulders up and back in a slow, controlled, and continuous pattern. Stop if any pain is felt. This exercise frees the shoulders, and opens the chest. Once the shoulders are back and open, the nerves supplying the hands should be freer too. With arms by the side, this action can also help to improve the blood supply to warm the fingers up.
There are many more instrument-specific exercises to support the warm-up practice for musicians. It is advised these are performed while waiting for a lesson to begin, and before EVERY practice session. Please see your teacher for more.
Correct posture at the piano –
I often show new students one of these images from the most common piano method books:
I often use the top one first, from Tunes for Ten Fingers (Hall, 2004) as it opens up the student’s imagination, regardless of age. This is a repertoire book that most of my child beginners use so they have this image to refer back to daily. Consider holding your hand in a bridge position so you don’t squash the mouse! I then make sure the student is aware that the wrist and forearm are soft and moveable to avoid any tension.
The second (black and white) book is Piano Safari (Fisher and Knerr, 2018) and promotes activities and discussions with the student. As this method is mostly taught by rote, it is aimed at very young beginners. The text that accompanies the photos is unlikely to be read by the student. However, as a reference for the supportive parents, these two pages can be ideal.
The bottom book is Poco Piano (Ying and Farrell, 2013) and highlights the importance of supported feet, straight back and sitting at the right height for the keys. The 4 points on the left page are particularly important to remember too.
Ultimately it is my responsibility as your teacher to ensure the posture at the piano is safe, comfortable and technically effective. I will check every lesson, and help your child make corrections if required.
Points to remember:
1. Adjust the height of the bench to raise your sitting position
2. Sit upon the sitting bones
3. Sit upon the closest half of the piano bench to the keys to free your legs
4. Make sure your feet are flat on the floor just in front of the pedal edges. Use a thick book or little stool if your legs are too short
5. Use a straight back with shoulders down
6. Open the chest (shoulders should come back a little)
7. Make sure your neck is tall and your head held well (as if it is being pulled from the top on a string to the ceiling)
8. Check the height and closeness of the bench is correct – your relaxed arms should be slightly away from the body so they are free to move. Now check the forearms are parallel to the floor when you lower your hands to the keyboard
9. Create the bridge pose in your hand – you might think of your thumbs as a wall or gate stopping that little mouse running away (this leaves it almost flat along the key and comfortably on its side). This should feel like a natural position for the hands even when they hang by your side.
10. Now try to play with each finger from the hand knuckle
11. The very tips of the finger make contact with the key before you press
12. To stop the sound, simply stop pressing (the key comes back up on its own)
13. Use loose wrists and a little forearm motion (tiny bounce) to make the notes sound sweet
14. Try to keep the rest of the hand, wrist and other fingers completely relaxed when it’s not their turn to play
15. Return to that comfortable five-finger pattern as often as you can as you play to avoid tension and over-stretching.
8. Recording Lessons
I am delighted to welcome many students from lots of different cultural backgrounds for short term and long term lessons. Some of my students have family far away that want to stay informed about their instrumental lessons. I do not mind photographs or video footage being taken, but request that you provide the courtesy of asking me first. This can sometimes prove distracting or disruptive to the lesson. There are also copyright issues to consider. You may be infringing copyright laws by videoing, streaming, or audio recording a performance of a piece of music protected by copyright. Please consider your use of the footage and I accept no liability for the recording or distribution of it.
To ensure my teaching is regularly audited and checked for quality control, I engage in Continuing Professional Development courses and assessments. This assures you that the lessons are of the highest quality and meet current standards, as they are informed by the latest thinking in music education. To continue my CPD, it would be helpful if you volunteer to have one or two lessons with your child video-recorded every two to three years. YOU ARE NOT OBLIGED TO AGREE to this or any other involvement of this type. If you do consent, you will be provided with a form to complete. Should the footage be submitted to a supervisory board or organisation, a second consent form might need to be signed. YOU CAN WITHDRAW YOUR CONSENT AT ANY TIME. The footage collected will only be seen by me and the supervisory organisation detailed on the consent form. YOUR CHILD WILL NOT BE IDENTIFIED on any videos or documents sent for assessment.
9. Payment Policy and Contract Terms
The first lesson gives the teacher and the student a chance to see if we are a good fit for productive music lessons going forward. Contract forms and contact details will need to be completed and signed and the ‘cooling-off’ period acknowledged.
Subsequent lessons are to be paid for in advance in blocks of 10. This demonstrates a commitment from the student and the parent to the tuition. The teacher can then plan a 10-week course (curriculum) of lessons, activities and evaluations with a clear progression and advancement of musicianship.
The fee covers a specified time slot on a particular day. It is unlikely that alternatives can be provided due to demand. If a student arrives late, the slot cannot be moved to accommodate the missed minutes, and must still end at the usual time.
If a student provides at least 24 hours notice of absence from a lesson slot, then the teacher will not charge for the lesson missed. Notice of less than 24 hours will still be charged in full at the normal rate.
Payments should be made in full through online banking. This provides assurance that payments have been received. An invoice will be provided detailing the cost of the lessons and terms. My bank account details will be provided separately. A receipt will be given on request. Unfortunately I can no longer accept cheques or cash for security purposes.
Termination of lessons: If you no longer wish to receive lessons, please notify me in writing with 4 weeks notice from the date you hand me the notice. You may receive a refund of the payments made for lessons outside of that notice period within 60 days.
Your obligations: As a parent or carer of the student, it is important you support and facilitate regular (daily) practice on the instrument. Clear requirements for this ‘homework’ are provided in the lesson notes after each session. Parental support is thought to dramatically improve the progress of the young musician. There will be requirements to buy several repertoire, theory and method books and sheet-music during the course of a typical term. These are essential to the lessons and MUST be brought to each session. Parents can also expect to receive requests to support and supervise research tasks so the child can listen to, and watch, musical performances through free online resource sites. The parent/carer is ultimately responsible for the child’s behaviour and must actively support the behaviour policies and codes of conduct (above). Parents must keep contact mobile phone numbers and addresses up-to-date for my records.
Late pick-ups: Parents are strongly encouraged to remain in the room during lessons. There is a comfortable sofa for you to sit. If you choose to leave your child with me, then please ensure you return to pick up your child at the end of the lesson on time. Pick-ups that are more than 10 minutes late will incur charges of £20 at the teacher’s discretion. Students under the age of 16 are not to leave the lesson unaccompanied unless authorised in writing from the parent/carer. I cannot leave the setting to take your child to you.
Additional Information: I have current DBS, Emergency First Aid, and Child Protection & Safeguarding certificates for your assurance and protection. These will be maintained and refreshed as required.
PLEASE REFER TO THE TERMS ON THE REVERSE SIDE OF YOUR SIGNED CONTRACT.