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Teaching Music in a Rural Area – Melanie’s Story

Are you interested in Teaching Music in a Rural Area?

If you are struggling to get enough teaching in the city in which you live, you may consider moving to a Rural setting where there may be a greater demand for your services. In addition you will potentially also have the benefits of living in a country environment!

Melanie’s Story

Melanie Pocknall trained as a Primary teacher but didn’t immediately secure a full time teaching position in a Primary school. When the opportunity came to teach instrumental music in several local country schools, she took immediate action to find out what was on offer and was surprised to be hired on the spot!

 

Melanie lives near Warrnambool in Regional Victoria ( Australia) and currently teaches at schools in Hawkesdale, Mortlake, Derrinalum and Lismore, all of which requires travelling for at least 30 minutes or considerably more to each location on country roads.

Rural Arts Culture

Education and Culture in Rural communities can be quite different to Metropolitan centres. Most Rural centres struggle to complete with the facilities and opportunities offered in the City and the schools themselves reflect this. When you combine this with the nature of employment in rural areas, in Melanie’s case, mostly farming areas, the culture and interest in the Arts can be significantly undervalued.
Of course different areas will have potentially different attitudes to the Arts and some Rural areas are filled with amazing musicians!
Some Schools in Melanie’s area have Music teachers and /or Performing Arts teachers but in smaller schools the culture varies and music can be a low priority compared to Sport and work. The result is that getting enough students and getting paid can actually be quite tough, even though there are not huge numbers of Music Teachers around.

 

Melanie offers a traditional approach to administering her lessons with Parents paying her direct per term and timetables needing to be co-ordinated through the school and its teachers. Quite a juggle at times when schools change things around!

Melanie is a multi instrumentalist, able to offer

Piano, Guitar, Flute, Violin, Sax, Clarinet and Recorder.

 

In typical Itinerant teacher fashion, not all school have a good set of instruments, so she finds herself carrying around a lot of gear to ensure there is always an instrument on hand.

 

Some schools have guitars and drums and pianos available but of course there is the need to travel around carrying lots of the other instruments, “just in case”!

 

As Melanie is an independent teacher, she can choose how she offers lessons and what to charge. Currently on offer are 20& 30 minute classes mostly individual but occasionally shared.

 

In the past Melanie enjoyed being able to offer Band Sessions to students in addition to lessons but now there is more demand for Piano or Guitar and Drums so forming Bands is difficult.
Melanie describes her Teaching Method as – nothing in particular… but she likes to ensure students can read music and individualises finding music for each student.

 

Melanie offers Concerts and Exams offered every year to help motivate and Reward her students.

Biggest challenges

  • Getting Parents to pay by end of term.
  • Co-ordinating times and Days around each of her schools.

 

In order to manage week by week rotating timetables  (co-ordinated with teachers) and Payments Melanie uses Manual sheets that she can carry around with her.

Most rewarding aspect

For Melanie she finds seeing the kids grow musically- watching them start very young and continue till the end of school and seeing how much they have developed to be particularly rewarding for her.

Advice for new Music Teachers?

  • Have a clear idea on what you want to teach, which instruments etc
  • If teaching in schools, research what they have had in the past and consider how you may wish to change things.
  • Be persistent when it comes to getting payments from Parents who continually “forget” to pay you!

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Wendy Brentnall-Wood

I am passionate about encouraging and inspiring people to begin to experience the heart filling joy of making music in a simple, easy and systematic way, enabling them to enrich their lives and the lives of those around them.

 

Wendy Brentnall-Wood

(Founder of Wendy’s Music)