Frequently Asked Questions

What happens if my child was absent from their lesson?


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Trafford Music Service does not refund or credit for lessons where the child’s tutor was in the school to teach lessons. This includes school trips, holidays during term time, pupil illness. The exception may be where there may be a long term illness, in these circumstances please contact our office to discuss if the situation arises.

Please note that, due to the academic year being 6 weeks longer than our 33 week lesson provision, it is possible that our tutors may end up delivering more lessons by the end of the year which would off-set pupil absence.

What happens if my child’s tutor has missed the lesson?


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There may be occasions when a lesson cannot take place either due to a tutor absence or the school has requested the lessons do not take place e.g. due to Inset Days or SATS.

Trafford Music Service may send an alternative tutor, or dependant on school circumstances there may be double lessons or an extra visit in a week to compensate. However the most common occurrence is that due to the academic year being 6 weeks longer than our 33 week lesson provision there is opportunity to make up for tutor absence through these weeks when lessons would not usually be taking place.

Trafford Music Service tutors track lesson numbers on their registers closely, which are submitted to our office half termly, and will ensure that pupils get their lesson entitlement over the course of the year.

If for any reason at the end of the academic year it has not been possible to complete your child’s full course of lessons due to tutor absence, refunds or credits will be given.

In circumstances where our tutor is unable to teach at the Claremont Centre, we will either find cover for these lessons or we will move your child’s lessons to one of our make up weeks. You will be notified of what will be happening as soon as we are notified of the tutor absence. We have several make up weeks throughout the academic year but should your child be unable to come to the lesson in you will be refunded for the missed lesson.

What does my child need to take to lessons?


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Pupils will need:

  • An instrument – the exception being pianos, drum kits and in secondary schools keyboards. For children in primary schools we recommend they take their own instrument into school. Primaries are less likely to have keyboards available and due to the difference in the design of different keyboards they can be very different to play on.

Our tutors do not carry spare instruments or accessories. Should your child not be able to play on their instrument for any reason they should still attend their lesson and either participate as fully as possible through listening and questioning when in a group lesson or if individual through other musicianship skills.

  • Music – Due to the wide range of material pupils use tutors may not have spare copies with them. Pupils should try to remember their own music to maintain consistency in their lessons. It is also useful that tutors can indicate on the music helpful pointers.
  • A notepad – Pupils should bring a plain notepad for tutors to write practice notes/comments in, this is especially necessary for pupils who have individual lessons. It is also a useful way to communicate the need for accessories/music to parents and for you to see what your child should be practising.

Due to the nature of the lesson, pupils taught in a group may get quick notes on pieces to practice, or the date next to music titles. Some teachers may have a few minutes at the end where pupils write their own learning notes to help them remember practice material.

How do we track progress?


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Trafford Music Service expect our tutors to provide medium term planning for their groups – this helps ensure lessons show progression. We carry out observations of lessons and work with our tutors to maintain a high level of professional development through training and feedback. Tutors maintain records of planning and registers that are submitted and monitored half termly.

We provide an annual report (usually issued in May) which feeds back to parents and pupils progress for the year and areas for development.

Beyond the annual report we recommend all pupils have a notepad which can be used to record practice targets, and communicate the need for accessories/music allowing parents to also see what pupils have been achieving regularly. Due to the nature of the lesson pupils taught in a group may get quick notes on pieces to practice, or the date next to music titles. Some teachers may have a few minutes at the end where pupils write their own learning notes to help them remember practice material.

Our tutors maintain accurate registers that record tutor visits and attendance. They also record whether a pupil has remembered their instrument/music each week -  if there is a persistent problem in these areas or there is an issue over attendance it is our policy that tutors contact our office so we can bring this to your awareness.

Tutors will recommend when pupils are at the level where they could take an exam. Music exams are not compulsory and an individual choice for pupils but can be useful guidance to the level a student is currently achieving.

Group or individual lesson?


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Pupils vary in their styles and needs for learning there are advantages for both group and individual lessons. Due to the nature of the instrument piano is only available as an individual lesson. Drum Kit and keyboard, dependent on the school are often only available as individual or paired lessons.

Group Lessons

The benefits of learning as part of a group is that children can enjoy learning with their friends supporting each other in a friendly atmosphere. Pupils can enjoy playing together with other performers, whether all playing the same part or perhaps on different parts. A little friendly competition can help challenge pupils to practice more, concentrate and try harder in lessons. A group lesson can also help keep the cost down for parents.

A group lesson works well when pupils all have the same level of interest/practice to progress. Where this varies a little our teachers are experienced at differentiating the work/ensuring pupils have a target that is relevant to their level within a lesson. If the abilities begin to vary to broadly it can become more challenging to maintain the same level of progress. In this circumstance we can offer you to switch to an one-to-one lesson.

Individual lessons

Individual lessons are an advantage as pupils have progressed further on their instruments and need more specific focus on technique and areas of their playing. If pupils choose to take exams this can be difficult in a group lessons as every child will have different areas of the exam they perhaps need to focus on.

What accessories does my child need for their instrument?


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Pupils who have hired an instrument from Trafford Music Service will be provided with their first reed/strings. Subsequent reeds and strings for instruments are not provided by Trafford Music Service with the exception of a beginner’s first lesson. We would recommend that pupils have a spare set of strings or reeds so lessons can continue productively in the event of a breakage. These accessories are available from music shops or online. Tutors do not carry spare reeds or strings.

Generally we recommend the below accessories for beginner – intermediate students. Tutors may amend advice for specific instruments and more advanced students.

 Woodwind

Instrument Reed Other Accessories
Clarinet Rico 2 Strength Weighted Cleaning Cloth (pull through)
Saxophone Rico 2 Strength Weighted Cleaning Cloth (pull through)
Oboe Medium Soft Weighted Cleaning Cloth (pull through)
Bassoon Medium Soft Weighted Cleaning Cloth (pull through)
Flute Not applicable Gauze Cloth

For oboe and bassoon reeds the tutor will recommend further details on where to purchase these from.

The inside of woodwind instruments are best dried using cleaning cloths and pull-through after every rehearsal. This prevents a build-up of grime which can settle on pads and joints. Pupils will need their own cloths.

Woodwind, string and guitar instruments should not be submersed in water at any time.

Please do not use products such as Brasso or Silvo on any instruments as they will damage the instrument. A dry soft cloth will remove any finger marks where necessary.

String

Violin, Viola and Cello strings are sold in sets dependent on the size of your child’s instrument you will need a set that is a suitable size. Your child’s tutor will advise on the correct size.

All string instruments need Rosin (needed regularly for bows).

Brass

Your child’s tutor will recommend when it is necessary to purchase accessories such as valve oil / mutes.

Please do not use products such as Brasso or Silvo on any instruments as they will damage the instrument. A dry soft cloth will remove any finger marks where necessary.

 Guitar

  • A set of acoustic nylon strings.
  • Medium plectrum

 Drum kit

Drumsticks should be brought as a matching pair. Our tutors will recommend if there’s a particular brand.

What music do I need to buy?


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Tutors tend to have their own preferences on tutor books and will advise you on which books will be useful and when to purchase them. Tutors will have teaching materials ready usually for the first few lessons as beginners. Some instruments such as guitars may rely more on material devised by tutors.

It can vary dependent on the child’s stage of learning/rate of progress but we generally recommend you allow up to one book a term (these are mainly less than £10.00). It is mostly for more advanced pupils that the need for a book this often occurs. Sometimes beginner tutor books can last years!

Most music is commonly available in music shops (who will often order it in if it is not in stock) or online. If your child attends a group lesson it is most useful if pupils can purchase material in a reasonably timely manner to prevent delays to the group. We do advise tutors give warning to parents when books are needed to allow time for purchasing.

My child would like to do more beyond their lessons


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Playing or singing as part of an ensemble can benefit pupils instrumental playing as well as helping in all areas to make a more rounded musician. We highly encourage pupils to join a group from an early stage, whether through their own school or at one of our after school groups held at The Claremont Centre in Sale. Trafford Music Service has a large range of ensembles, groups and choirs that rehearse regularly and cater for a wide range of instruments, ages and abilities. For a more comprehensive list and further details please see our ensembles page. Whether your child has been playing 10 weeks or 10 years our large, experienced team of tutors staff means we’re bound to have something available for them.

Joining an ensemble can has many benefits to students and can speed up progress on their instrument as they are challenged to play amongst multiple parts and develop their sight reading. Students also require many transferrable skills such as developing listening, concentration and team work. All our ensembles perform regularly in as wider range of settings as we can provide – everything from informal concerts, summer fetes, performing at the Manchester Marathons, The intu Trafford Centre, The RNCM to the Royal Albert Hall - we’re constantly looking for opportunities to share achievements and progress.

One of the things we constantly see is that pupils quickly make firm friendships that then spread beyond their rehearsals. We like to think our ensembles encourage this by maintaining a supportive, friendly and fun atmosphere that spreads from tutors through to students.

Music exams?


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Trafford Music Service is now able to offer the facility of taking music examinations to all children within Trafford at our premises on Claremont Road in Sale. The examinations which are operated by the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music are an authoritative and internationally recognised system of music examinations which are part of the National Qualifications Framework (NQF) and are recognised by the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority (QCA). Candidates are assessed by an external examiner and the examinations can form a useful target and provide a reasonable indication of progress and ability.

Tutors will recommend when pupils are at the level where they could take an exam. Music exams are not compulsory and an individual choice for pupils but can be useful guidance to the level a student is currently achieving. Every instrument varies in the time it takes to reach the required standard for the first exam alongside pupils individual level of progression.