Setting Expectations and Establishing a Culture

As the fall semester is very nearly here, it’s time for me to get my Flute Studio Syllabus together. My goal in creating my syllabus (besides appeasing the administration!) is to set expectations and establish a culture in flute studio for the year. Hopefully, by doing this at the very beginning, all of my students will understand what is expected of them and how to best fit into a group of flutists.

Most of the time, my incoming college freshmen have never had flute lessons before. This is a stark contrast to my own experience. As a freshman, I had had many years of lessons, which included lessons with the professor with whom I was studying in my early college days. Therefore, expectations were quite clear. I knew the score – I was expected to be perfectly prepared for lessons every week and never to miss them.

The culture aspect of the flute studio has been vastly different in my experience from place to place. What do I mean by culture? I’m referring to how the members of a particular studio relate to each other. My experience has really run the gamut. I have been part of studios that were incredibly cut-throat, those that were very supportive, and those where there was really no culture at all. In this last instance, the flute students didn’t really interact with each other very much.

So, looking forward to Fall 2011, what do I want the studio experience to be for my students?

As far as their obligations to me, I expect for them to:
Come prepared to lessons.
Keep lesson times reserved exclusively for lessons.
Participate in ensembles.
Maintain a positive, helpful attitude.

As far as their obligations to each other, I expect them to:
Be friendly and supportive.
Take on a mentoring role to the younger students.
Maintain a healthy level of competition.
Attend each other’s performances.

And their obligations to themselves:
Further develop their creativity by exploring chamber music.
Read. A lot and often.
Listen to quality recordings.
Attend live music events.
Perform whenever and wherever possible, even though it can be scary.
Develop new friendships with musicians.

This doesn’t feel like an exhaustive list to me, and I’m sure I will continue to refine it until the semester begins.

I’m very interested in how those applied college professors out there (of any instrument) set expectations and establish a studio culture. What are your thoughts?

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