Hello Everyone!

We open on Thursday, September 9th for lessons at both Millburn and Gillette locations. We narrowly escaped the massive flooding in both Millburn and Gillette, and our hearts go out to those affected.

Scheduling Requests
As we roll into the fall season I want to ask everyone for patience as we get back into the swing of things. I have hired additional front desk staff who are doing an amazing job, though please bear in mind that there are hundreds of scheduling requests to go through as we open for the fall. If we don’t get back to you on day one, rest assured that we are going to get to it as soon as possible. Please do not email and call multiple times; multiple inquiries for the same question just makes things more difficult and stressful for our staff who are already working hard to help you and your students.

Vaccinations and Masks
All staff in the studio is vaccinated and masks are required for all in the building. I strongly believe that this is the best way to move forward since K- age 12 is still not eligible for the vaccine. We all have our own beliefs on this, which is great, but this is a private business and I expect all clients to respect our rules when entering the building. We have had a few “anti-mask” parents come in the doors who made my staff uncomfortable, and frankly, I don’t appreciate it. We have been absolutely slammed by this whole thing and are all stressed beyond belief. All I’m asking is for you to wear a mask. If you or your student do not comply, you will be asked to leave. This is for the safety of all students who are not yet able to be vaccinated, it is not about you. Thank you for your understanding.

Air Filters and Sanitization
We still use our fancy Hepa 13 air filters, which have been proven beneficial especially in these smaller rooms. We also maintain our sanitization procedures after each lesson. Each room is its own unit, thus minimizing the chance of any spread beyond the 30-minute lesson window. We are as safe as anywhere, and probably much safer than any other kid-based afterschool activity.

Vocal and Horn Lessons
We plan to soon restart vocal lessons in-studio with the caveat that all vocal students and teachers must use our approved vocal filter masks. We have them on order from a specialist supplier and will send out more information as soon as possible. Everything has been delayed for months due to COVID, so please bear with us on this. These new masks allow space for mouth and breathing exercises so, in theory, we can have lessons in person and still get the most out of it. We have conducted parent surveys each season and the general consensus is that since kids aren’t able to get vaccinated, it is my belief that it would be a bad idea to allow vocals and horns unmasked in the studio. This should be a good compromise.

Bands will start as soon as we have the student base to support them. COVID has knocked down our in-person attendance, believe it or not, we’re still at about 50/50 online to in-person! I imagine as the kid vaccines get approved that in-person ratio will climb and we’ll see more bands. More info will be sent out as that happens.

We have been trying to get performances happening over the last few months, though many venues are not quite there yet, and our band program took a break over the summer and due to COVID. We had just started planning events at Rock’n Joe’s for the fall, but due to the recent floods, we may be a few weeks out from that happening. Regarding Rocktoberfest: we will be in touch with any parent who submitted a request for the Rocktoberfest performance. The performance time is expected to be between 3 and 4 pm. More details next week.

Lesson Progress
Our last survey exposed a question that a handful of parents asked: How is my kid doing? Typically, in pre-COVID times, parents would simply come 5 minutes before the end of a lesson and chat with the instructor at the door. Due to half of all lessons now being online, this is not as common and many parents are not in the loop. That said, the same time restraints still apply to the lesson. Teachers are not expected to email parents directly since their job is to teach within the allotted lesson time and provide the weekly assignment sheet. The best way to get involved is to jump into the zoom call at the last 5 minutes in the same way you would have in person at the studio. Otherwise, take a look at the assignment sheets as given by your instructors. If details are limited on the assignment sheets or in the google classroom, let the instructor know you’re looking for more information and more detail. If you are unable to check in during the last few minutes of the lesson, send a note to the front desk and we will let the instructor know to add more information to the weekly lesson reports. Thank you for this feedback! I want every student to have the best experience possible, so this type of feedback is really good for us to hear.

Make-up Lessons
Missed lessons are never fun! That said, we understand that it happens. In a perfect world for the student, if you miss a lesson, the lesson can be rescheduled any time you’d like. In a perfect world for the studio and students, nobody would ever miss a lesson! Our make-up system is a compromise for everyone, studio included. We never penalize instructors when a student cancels or no-shows since they are expecting income for that recurring time slot. At the same time, we provide a make-up credit to be used at a later date and pay the instructor again for that same lesson. This credit can be used within a three-month period and on our designated make-up Friday. Since our instructors are human and have other jobs and things to do, your instructor may not be available on Fridays and you may need to take a lesson with someone else. This is good for your student! Variety is a good thing and shouldn’t be avoided or shunned. If you are unable to get a make-up lesson with your preferred instructor, I would strongly recommend taking a make-up slot with one of our Friday instructors or with another instructor during the week if time slots open up. You can always call us at the beginning of each week to check for any new make-up slots. We had tried setting up a waitlist but found that getting in touch with parents in time to set up make-ups each week was not working and started to cause additional issues.

We are working on ways to set up a proper notification system for cancellations and rebooking those as make-ups, though typically cancellations happen last-minute and can’t be rebooked as a make-up. We are working on a new option for make-ups that will be rolled out in the coming weeks. Please be on the lookout!

Scheduled Breaks
We received a handful of questions over break regarding why the lesson didn’t start on zoom last week. We have sent out multiple emails explaining the yearly Labor Day Break as well as individual emails to each individual lesson in the calendar, so as a reminder to those who may have missed the emails: the monthly flat-rate lesson pricing does not include these scheduled breaks as outlined in our yearly calendar. We were closed from August 29th through September 8th, and there are no make-ups associated with these calendar dates since these weeks are not included in the billing. Monthly lesson pricing is based on an average monthly cost of the total number of lessons included in the September-August calendar. Please refer to our website for the specific calendar in your location. Over the years we have determined that this is the best way to handle these off weeks; most people go away for the last summer vacation, or simply don’t come to lessons anyway. We don’t want to subject our instructors to having only one or two lessons each day from the 29th through the 8th, so the solution was to close and subtract these lessons from the total average lesson pricing throughout the year.

I appreciate each and every one of you and hope to see you around the studio soon! This has been an impossible time for everyone. Much love to all and let’s use music as a tool to heal and move on. Music lessons should be fun, and So I Heard is the best place for fun lessons!

– Sean Killary

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