Assigning music: the struggle is real

How many of you have lived through the all too common frustration of assigning music to your students?

In my case, this is never an easy process. Many schools require students to have an original copy when performing for an event such as solo and ensemble or chamber music festivals. I know some teachers who lend out of their own personal library but you run the risk of your music never being returned, or worse. Coming back like this…..

👆That is a real life example from a student of mine. NOT dramatized 😱

Usually, students are not very proactive when it comes to getting copies of their music. If they, or their parents, don’t act on making the purchase within a day of your lesson, there is no hope of the student getting the music for the following week’s meeting. Many times, it can be weeks or months before the music arrives. And, don’t even get me started with back orders! This not only delays the student’s progress, but makes your teaching less effective, as you have to cut educational corners in order to get the piece performance ready for the ever looming deadline. That is, when they remember to bring their music at all….

Ah, memories of the time my student brought only his non-transposed piano part with him to his lesson…….😭

Over the years I have developed a three pronged approach to successfully assigning music.

I. I assign the music two weeks ahead of time. This way we are delayed only one week in the worst case scenario.

II. I send the exact URL link to the page for the specific piece. Parents are usually not as successful if I simply tell them to get the Handel Sonata for their student.

III. I recommend a sheet music vendor I can trust.

With the diverse body of chamber music available for performers, it is important to use a vendor who specializes in this type of literature. My professional experience has led me to go with Groth Music (formerly known as Eble music) for my personal and studio needs. The folks at Groth always have what I need to assign in stock and usually ship same day, so students will have it before their next lesson! Also, all music at Groth is always 10% off, and they offer 20% off for teachers each August! (Yes, private teachers count 😃)

One last thing to be aware of is the ever changing prescribed music list in your area. Many states have a database of music that students can select from. Unfortunately, this list sometimes changes from year to year and private teachers are the last, if ever, to be notified of these changes. I once made the mistake of assigning a piece that had been removed from the list! That was not a teacher of the year moment. 😳