Keys to Growing a Successful Music School
Listening to the needs of the community and building trust
This week we caught up with Grace and Tony Liu from Chiron Group New Zealand, owners of the Remuera Music Academy and Albany School of Music, to hear how they grew from a two teacher studio to a multi-campus School.
Every school wants to grow, build up student numbers and start to employ more teachers. But Grace and Tony talked with us about how crucial trust is in building up relationships with your community and how listening to their needs is crucial in growing a successful school.
How did you start RMA (Remuera Music Academy) and describe the journey from having one new school and the growth that propelled you to build this second campus now in Albany (ASM – Albany School of Music)?
It all started 5 years ago in 2014.
We started RMA with only 3 rooms; it was a very small music studio, with only one piano teacher and one flute teacher – Grace herself.
There were a number of private schools nearby, and this environment created the need for a professional music school in the area, as many students and parents were searching for quality music teachers. We joined NZ Music Teachers Online to show people what we were offering.
We attribute the growth of the school to the experience and expertise offered by Grace and the other teachers, combined with the strong desire in the community for the formation of a music academy. Once again, it was community need that led to the formation of the Albany School of Music 2 years later. The community was able to recognise our expertise and experience – the quality of our school.
In 2016 we made the decision to expand. We knew it wouldn’t be easy as there were many challenges to overcome. We had other more “comfortable” choices such as working in a larger, more established industry. However, we decided to go ahead with following our dream of building a great music school, at a large enough scale to truly benefit New Zealand’s music industry. To say that this this required extreme effort and creativity would be something of an understatement!
Looking back now it’s clear that we made the right decision; the school has been developing faster than we could imagine, from 2 teachers at the outset to the 45 teachers who make up the current teaching staff, along with 600 students in Chiron’s combined ASM and RMA. This growth led us to build the Albany School of Music, which is purpose build as a music school, with 9 teaching studios and a larger seminar/performance room, as well as office space. In Remuera we currently occupy two floors in the RMA building and are in the planning stages of extending the building in order to provide more teaching space. We value the contribution of each of our staff members to the school, especially our heads of departments, department coordinators and office supervisors. We are a big family!
Wow so when you started you obviously were a duo offering Flute and Piano lessons, did you have some more teachers in mind as you grew to offer more instruments at the school?
Head at Remuera Music Academy &
Albany School of Music
We did, but in the beginning we didn’t have the connections or the reputation to be able to attract leading teachers. Initially we had to put a huge amount of time and effort into developing both the size and quality of the school – Grace doing most of the teaching and Tony running the administrative side of things. We were regularly working 70- hour weeks, although we didn’t have a clear idea of where it was leading at that time. Gradually we built our team, ranging from young musicians starting out in the profession, to some of New Zealand’s most well-known teachers.Our heads of departments and department coordinators are high profile teachers from universities and leading orchestras. They have the knowledge and experience to not only teach at a high level, but also provide teacher training and encouragement for the teachers within their departments. This peer support offers security for us, knowing that our teachers are supported and can be assisted with following and absorbing our whole school philosophy. We believe that our teacher training system will have a long-term impact on our school and the music industry.
It is all based on trust. Our teachers and students trust and have faith in our school, and the school recognizes the individual needs of each teacher and student, then works towards helping them to develop in their own way.
ABRSM holds two exams in the school for our students each year, and many of our students have gone on to perform in the ABRSM high achievers concerts. In the latest ABRSM graded exam results (June 2019), our school success rate was 83% distinction and 17% merit. Also, 30% of our students have
received high achievement in the distinction grade. In October 2018 one of our students was the first in the world to receive full-marks in the ABRSM diploma exam. In July 2019, we had the youngest student to win the first prize in the Young Artist Competition from the Australian Flute Festival held by the Sydney Conservatorium of Music.
Exams and competitions are only a small part of the activities of the school. The walls of RMA and ASM are now covered with posters detailing the many school events which have taken place during the last 12 months: school trips to Queenstown, Sydney and Oxford, England, school holiday programmes, concerts, masterclasses given by international artists, the variety is enormous! The success is attributed to the support from the school’s students, their parents, our departments and office staff.
Administration Staff and Piano Tutor
Full-time (40 hours)
Remuera Music Academy and Albany School of Music are under the same management team from CHIRON Group New Zealand. Remuera Music Academy was established first in 2014, then Albany School of Music in 2017. Our heads of departments and department coordinators are high profile teachers from universities and leading orchestras. They have the knowledge and experience to not only teach at a high level, but also provide teacher training and encouragement for the teachers within their departments. This peer support offers security for us, knowing that our teachers are supported and can be assisted with following and absorbing our whole school philosophy. We believe that our teacher training system will have a long-term impact on our school and the music industry.
We recognise the individual needs of each teacher and student, then work towards helping them to develop in their own way.
We are seeking an Administration Staff and Piano Tutor to join our exciting and dynamic Academic Services Team. Reporting to the Office Supervisor and the Department Coordinator, the position will be a 40 hour per week permanent contract and will work side-by-side with our existing Administration Staff and Piano Tutor.
The role does include piano teaching, however is also responsible for administration works in the Office. It is a diverse and exciting position that covers a range of responsibilities, including:
– Liaising with other staff about a range of matters relating to the School’s operations
– Maintaining appointment diaries
– Processing mail, filing correspondence and maintaining records
– Answering telephone calls and inquiries
– Researching and preparing reports, briefing notes, memoranda and correspondence and other routine documents
– Maintaining confidential files and documents
– Taking and transcribing dictation of letters and other documents
– Greeting and welcoming visitors, and directing them to the appropriate person
– Answering inquiries and providing information on the goods, services and activities of the School
– Maintaining the reception area
– Receiving and processing payments for goods and services by cash, cheques, gift vouchers, credit and debit cards and other payment types
– Averages 20 hours teaching per week during a period of 48 weeks per School Year (52 weeks)
– Teach the correct technique, repertoire, and performance practice of a chosen field of music / instrument to students in individual lessons.
– Prepare lessons, organise learning resources and draft writing assessments.
– Schedule regular lessons for students in accordance with timetables, availability and maintain record keeping / clear communication of the same.
– Offer advice, criticism and encouragement to students whilst earning respect and developing / maintaining excellent relationships.
– Prepare and present material on the theory of the chosen field of music.
– Instruct and demonstrate practical aspects of the chosen field of music.
– Prepare students for music examinations in schools or as administered by international examination boards such as ABRSM or Trinity College London.
– Participate in the planning and organisation of the School’s music events.
– Attend meetings with staff and be available as a substitute for absent teachers from time to time.
– Source musical instruments and equipment necessary for students.
– Attend conferences and seminars to enrich his or her own teaching skills and further understand developments in the industry, within the chosen field.
We are looking for someone who can bring energy, passion, and motivation to this newly created position within the team, and continue our growth in engagement and experience activities. If you are someone passionate about music and education, have good communication skills, manage a variety of work simultaneously, is highly organised, can work in a team and independently, a self-started, see the big picture but not forget about the detail and understands student needs and equity then we want to hear from you!
We do hold a few student events that can be outside of normal working hours, and the successful candidate will need to be flexible where required.
How to apply
Applications must be submitted to the email of the School’s Administration Office (firstname.lastname@example.org). Please include your cover letter and CV combined as one document.
This is a Music Teacher Group 2 position with the following requirements:
– Demonstrated experience teaching music to students.
– Expert in chosen field of music, with the ability to perform the same to students of the School.
– Music or teaching qualification highly desirable.
– Industry experience or experience in a similar role required.