Who knows best? You, or the person holding the money? If you were in any other business than education, the answer would be obvious, and it wouldn’t be the ﬁrst option listed.
When the person holding the chequebook is the student’s parent, or the student themselves, the disagreements can be bizarre to say the least. A look at the most recent dozen threads on the ABRSM forum reveals that one teacher has an adult learner who writes the letter names underneath every note, and refuses to stop doing it. It’s a wonderfully supportive thread, with lots of great ideas on how to get him to change his habit and to embrace reading at sight, but there are a fair few users who suggested that, since the student is paying for himself and is enjoying the lessons, the teacher should let him have it his own way. Another thread discusses a pupil who refuses to use their thumbs, who was given somewhat shorter shrift, with some respondents suggesting that the teacher should get rid of the pupil as soon as possible.
When your paycheque comes from schools, navigating their needs is a whole different kettle of ﬁsh, and the stakes are high. In this issue, Emma Coulthard of Music Development Cardiff explains how some old-school, ‘the customer is always right’ service turned a disastrous funding announcement into an opportunity to develop stronger relationships directly with her school clients, and increase business in the process. A short while ago, we interviewed Steven Sammut, whose ‘private music service’, The Rock and Pop Foundation is thriving despite never having received a penny of public money. Both will be at the Music Education Expo at the Barbican on 12 and 13 March next year, and are on a mission to spread the word. Emma is fond of the term ‘civic entrepreneur’. One of the several memorable opinions that Steven expressed in our interview was this: ‘The last thing music services offer is a service’. Is it possible that the customer might be right more often than we'd like?