At Bishop’s, the privilege of having one-on-one instruction is unique to students enrolled in Music. Lessons do come at an additional cost to you, but in a way the fee surcharge increases the value of this privilege. While the importance of individual instruction is perfectly obvious to all students, consideration must also be given to the instructors. For many of our teachers, lessons at Bishop’s are but a small part of their working schedule.

A small minority of students view attendance at lessons only from their own perspective, with little or no concern for the teachers, who have arranged their lives in order to spend a fixed part of their work week at Bishop’s. This document is directed primarily at that minority, but its larger purpose is to impress on all students the importance of keeping to agreed-upon times for lessons, and to make clear provisions between all instructors and students for dealing with any scheduling issues that arise. Please read the following text carefully:

1. Teachers are not obligated to make up any lesson you have missed, unless you have made some provision beforehand. Professors don’t repeat lectures for students who don’t show up to class. Agreeing on a lesson time at the beginning of term puts it into your university time-table. Your instructor, who often comes from off-campus or even from out of town, relies on this agreement once it is made. Teachers sometimes sit around for an hour (or more), waiting in vain for students to show up. This represents not only a frustrating waste of their time, and perhaps even travel, but also a lost opportunity to do something constructive.

2. Expecting teachers to change a lesson time at the last moment is not only very impractical but also immature and self-centered. Teachers do not spend their lives waiting for a text-message, email or phone message from you; most are busy working somewhere else. If for some reason you have to cancel your lesson, you must have an arrangement in place with your teacher concerning how and when to inform them.

3. At your first meeting, make such an arrangement with your teacher, outlining the method (email, phone message, etc.) and the latest time that they must be informed of a cancelled lesson. You should also agree upon circumstances that qualify for the re-scheduling of a missed lesson. Remember that you are asking them to re-arrange their lives for your benefit.

4. Lessons are university credit courses. They are not like private lessons you may have had before – they come with additional responsibilities. Part of your grade may come from end-of-term juries but much, if not most, comes from your teacher, who assesses your progress in lessons from week to week. Skipping a lesson should not be taken lightly: each one represents 10% of your course and that amount may be deducted from the teacher’s portion of your grade for each unexcused absence.

Being serious about arriving for lessons is linked to taking them seriously as part of your overall musical education. For most of you, lessons are at the core of your musical studies. They are what set you apart from students in other disciplines. Arriving prepared for lessons is another issue, but we hope that a serious approach to attendance will encourage a serious approach to practicing. Our goal is for you to get the most out of the time and money you are spending on this aspect of your education at Bishop’s.