Friday, April 3, 2009

Big week at the Studio

"Welcome back from Spring Break, you great students. I hope you practiced hard while I was off galavanting about the country."

This week was a rude awakening to the teacher more than the student. What do you mean there are only 7 weeks left of the musical school year? Will they get all these pieces ready in time? What was I thinking?

A few weeks ago, I took a step back to reevaluate some of the programs the Wolf Piano Studio uses. Many are near and dear to us, and have tremendous value in teaching and furthering their development. I have concluded that theory exams, the MMTA competition and piano exam, Federation Festival and the Guild Auditions are worthwhile, fun, and will stay in the studio.

After the Guild raised dues and enrollment rates again this year, I took a look at aspects of this program. What other programs are out there for an end of the year assessment? The presumption here is that an end of the year analysis of our progress is beneficial and needed. What do other music events cost and what do other student fees across other programs look like? What did families perceive the value of end of the year report cards to be?

Minnesota Program Options, as I saw it:

A. National Guild Auditions –it’s been a good program. Fee=approximately $32 per audition for a 10 piece program, includes technique, etc. a wide variety of dates, and is in our backyard. I'm the chair and run a site right here in town.

B. Minnesota Music Bridges – a newer, very creative MMTA outlet, $25, 5 total elements, takes place in St. Louis Park, mid-April. It brings in elements of the other arts; some students paint, draw, dance, recite poetry.

C. Piano Exams through MMTA. Sat. 5/16/09 is the only date, it’s at the U of M, cost is around $27.00 plus gas and parking, should have taken the MMTA Theory also. 4 memorized pieces from a list, some history, sight playing, and technique elements. Comprehensive but not for all students-it is a serious classical piano exam.

D. Upper Midwest Music Festival – 2 pieces for memory, very similar to our current Federation festival, $30.00, end of April. Too much like what we do already in January-and no cost savings.

Other event fees:

A. A Karate tournament - $50 per event entered, plus travel expenses. No critique.

B. Golf tournament - $35.00, no coaching, but you’re out there playing.

C. Scouting? Dance? Clubs at school? A sports season? I’m at a loss to make an even comparison for an individual event in which you, the student, are the focus, your progress is assessed for the year, a professional in the field is brought to you. The other music programs were of a similar price although the student played fewer pieces and drove a distance to it.

But then best answers came from my families! Most of the families that have used Guild for many years see that it is like no other, it “keeps the students engaged and learning in the spring”, we loved “the scope”, and “character building things go into the preparation and performance…it’s about so much more than piano, you know”. One former student wrote that her college acknowledged guild auditions. Another former student felt it prepared her for the big projects of college. Well said. I appreciated all the feedback, pro and con.

So here we are getting ready for the end of the year. Can we be ready? I believe it, but a little dessert doesn't hurt. A fruit tart and chocolate raspberry cake from "Pardon My French", a wonderful cafe just north of my studio.


  1. From what I know of you just by reading your blog, there is no doubt in my mind you will be ready. But a good excuse for fabulous dessert is always welcome.


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