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. However didn’t immediately secure a full time Primary teaching position. When an opportunity came up to teach instrumental music in several local country schools, she took immediate action, found out what was on offer and was surprised to be hired on the spot!
Melanie lives near Warrnambool in Regional Victoria (Australia). She currently teaches at schools in Hawkesdale, Mortlake, Derrinalum and Lismore. Each school requires her to travel for at least 30 minutes to each location on country roads.

Rural Arts Culture

Education and Culture in Rural communities can be quite different to that in Metropolitan areas. Most rural areas struggle to complete with the facilities and opportunities on offer in the City. The schools themselves often reflect this. When you combine 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 towards the Arts. In fact, some rural areas are filled with amazing musicians!
Some of the schools in Melanie’s area have Music teachers and /or Performing Arts teachers. However, in the smaller schools, the culture varies and music can be a low priority compared to that of Sport and work. This often results in not having enough students and then getting paid can actually be quite tough.

On Offer…

Melanie offers a traditional approach to administering her lessons. Parents pay her directly per term. She then co-ordinates timetables through the school and its teachers. This can be quite a juggle at times when schools change things around!

Melanie is a multi instrumentalist, and offers a variety of lessons…
– Piano, Guitar, Flute, Violin, Sax, Clarinet and Recorder.

In typical Itinerant teacher fashion, not all schools have a good set of instruments. As a result, there is often a need to carry around a lot of extra gear to ensure there is always an instrument on hand. Not all schools have guitars, drums and pianos available so she travels around with lots of the other instruments, “just in case”!

Melanie is an independent teacher, meaning, she is able to choose how she offers lessons and what to charge.  Currently Melanie offers 20 and 30 minute classes. These are mostly individual lessons but occasionally shared. In the past, Melanie was able to offer “Band Sessions” to students in addition to their lessons. At present, there is more of a demand for Piano or Guitar and Drums, so forming “Band Sessions” is a little difficult.

Melanie describes her Teaching Method as “nothing in particular”… but likes to ensure her students can read music and tailors the music lessons for each student. Offering Concerts and Exams each 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.

To manage week by week rotating timetables (coordinated with teachers) and payments, Melanie uses manual sheets that she can carry around with her.

Most rewarding aspect

Melanie finds the musically growth and development of her students – as they start young and progress, to be particularly rewarding.

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

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.

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