Newsletter (June 2010)

June 12th 2010

Hi Everyone!

As we embark upon the third term following the long World Cup break here’s an update of what’s been happening in the studio and what to expect this term.

The Winter Concert
We have scheduled the Winter Concert for Sunday July 25th starting at 12.00 midday. Everyone is encouraged to participate and I’m happy to say that there is a huge amount of excitement about this event. Most preparation will be done in class but I will schedule a couple of rehearsals for those students who are doing group acts. The venue is Lionsgate Farm and Studio – the home of Trayci and Stuart Tompkins – in the Midlands. It’s between Piggly Wiggly and Hebron Haven but more accurate directions will be given closer to the time. The idea is that everyone brings a picnic and some chairs and we do a relaxed al fresco concert over lunch and the rest of the afternoon. Hopefully we will have good weather. Please invite friends and family – there will be a small charge (I’ll let you know how much) to cover staging costs, a very exciting lucky draw prize and someone to help clean up afterwards! I am very grateful to Trayci and Stuart who are full of enthusiasm for our concert.

Website My new website (www.tracystark.net or www.tracystark.co.za) is up and running and includes the music school – we will be posting additional info. and lots of new fun photos once they’ve gone to our website designer. Do check it out. I’m really pleased with how it’s turned out.

Trinity Exams
I’m very happy that my collaboration with St. Anne’s College has resulted in some of the students being included in this year’s batch of Trinity Rock School exams. Rock School is an exciting concept and allows students to gain a formally graded qualification in contemporary music styles that is internationally recognised. Students can choose from a graded qualification or a performance certificate. If you think you might be interested for next year’s exams please let me know.

Working Round and About
As you all know I am a working musician and need to perform in order to keep fresh and current and maintain my industry contacts. Last term I performed for some private functions, as well as at Sun City, Craft in The Park and Art in the Park. I apologise for the inconvenience of shifting classes around and thank you for your understanding with regard to this. I will always make these classes up or you will receive a refund.

Class Fees and Non-Arrivals
I have held fees at the current level for the past 18 months since January 2009. However, in order to offset at least some of the increased costs that we are all experiencing I will be increasing them from the beginning of the 3rd term ie. 1st July.

Fees payment is not calculated on attendance but on a commitment to a weekly timeslot which is set aside for you or your child. A few students who have pre- arranged to pay on a weekly basis may continue to do so. For everyone else fees must be paid in full a month in advance. I need to stress that classes that are missed will be charged for. If you or your child do not attend class due to illness, family holidays etc. the full monthly fee is payable as the weekly place in the studio has been allocated to you. My teaching colleagues in Pietermaritzburg and other towns tell me that charging for missed appointments is common practice as it certainly is in many other professions. The dance studio and personal training gym I attend have also just had to reconsider their contractual terms as attendance and payment have become so inconsistent. I appreciate the support and co-operation I have received from those parents that I have discussed this with during the past few weeks. I also need to stress that this communication is not just directed at one or two people. It is being sent to everyone as a result of the cumulative effect of numerous daily cancellations.

I feel very uncomfortable about charging for non-attendance but there were many days last term when 6 hours of lessons dwindled to just 1 or 2 and it is very frustrating just sitting around waiting for students who do not turn up. Also the roll- over effect of having a 40% attendance on some days meant that on other days rescheduling the timetable resulted in a very long and very crammed day with up to 10 hours teaching. Students were shuttled in and out of here and I felt that the quality of my teaching suffered and certain students were compromised through no fault of their own. The School is fully booked Monday to Friday between the most popular times of 2.00pm and 7.00pm and there is a waiting list for these ‘prized’ slots so I need to keep my timetable consistent and manageable. Saturday morning is more flexible and so in exceptional circumstances with plenty of prior warning I may be able to re-schedule the odd class for a Saturday morning on a first come first served basis. Thank you for your understanding.

Students who want to attend classes on a once-off or ad hoc basis are more than welcome and will be scheduled for weekday mornings and Saturday mornings subject to availability. Once-off classes are slightly more than the usual class rates for students who attend regularly.

School Administration
From the beginning of the third term I will be handing over the administration of the school to Steve Stark, my music producer, partner and husband. I’m sure most of you know him quite well by now! He administers and runs the other half of our music business – the Sound Recording Studio and he is taking over my accounts and bookings schedule. You will be getting weekly SMS reminders for classes and other helpful information to help the school run more smoothly. Steve’s phone number is 072 576 2794 and as you will not be able to contact me on my cell phone during teaching times please feel free to contact him.

CD Sales
I still have a few of copies of Jason Hartman’s debut CD signed by the band at R120 each. I’m happy to report that my own CDs The Collection, Reflections and Live at Brookfield are selling well also at R120 each. Extracts of all of them can be heard on my website and the full CDs ordered online or purchased from the studio. Thanks to all of you who’ve already bought copies.

Finally thank you to all of you who support this music school with such enthusiasm and consistency. It is a pleasure to work with all my students young and a bit older and I must say on balance it is a very rewarding job!

Best wishes,
Dr Tracy Stark
Songworks Music School
Email Tracy at school@tracystark.net