VMTA Member Survey 2019 Report
Josie Thomas, VMTA President
23 October 2019
Thank you to all the members who completed the survey circulated by Survey Matters earlier this year. The VMTA Board and Management very much appreciate all the feedback and we are currently considering how to continue to meet your membership needs. Your responses are taken very seriously.
In this article, I will focus on feedback about Professional Development that the VMTA is currently planning to implement. Access to relevant Professional Development is a significant reason why teachers join the VMTA and as a result of the survey feedback, we are currently reviewing our professional learning program.
Timing of Professional Learning Events
One of the major things that has affected the timing of workshops in recent years is a greater number of professional development seminars run by retail outlets and other organisations. January holidays are popular times for these. As well, many teachers are expected to attend their own schools’ professional development during the last weeks of January. It is impossible to time any event that would suit all. When scheduling professional learning we try to avoid weekdays during term time due to school and studio teaching commitments. Similarly we avoid Saturdays due to weekend teaching commitments. We have found that many members are in favour of Sunday workshops and school holidays events and have therefore scheduled our professional learning during these times.
Piano Specific versus Other Instruments
Some comments have come back that we are “too piano focused”. Approximately 70% of our members teach piano and so we must continue to cater for them. Previous workshops designed for all teachers with topics of broad interest, have been poorly attended by teachers of other instruments.
In the survey results, there were requests to run more professional learning events, featuring lesson demonstrations presented by highly experienced teachers at all levels. There were also requests to include more time for questions, discussion and networking. We have taken on board this feedback, and our recent Piano Day held on 8th September featured all three presenters participating in an hour-long panel, as well as longer breaks that allowed more time for casual interaction. Attendees’ feedback was most positive and all were armed with many practical ideas.
With regard to providing professional learning for teachers of other instruments or voice, at this stage, the remaining 30% of music teachers covers too wide a variety of instruments to run pedagogy specific workshops. Professional learning for teachers of all instruments will continue to be offered through generic workshops.
In the survey, members also expressed an interest in online learning. In response to this feedback we are now looking into a series of webinars. This will be of particular benefit to regional members and members who do not have the time to attend face-to-face events. This will mean that access is available at a time convenient to the teacher. For those who register, the webinars will be available in real time and as a recording. This is a first for the VMTA, with possible topics being Performance Anxiety, Positive Education, Learning Theory, General Knowledge, and the business side of running a studio. We always welcome suggestions so please don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any ideas of possible webinar topics. The Board and Management spend considerable amounts of time preparing and running events. So we need member support to make them successful. More details about webinars will be released in the near future.
It also remains our aim to attract a wider variety of instrumental and voice teachers to the VMTA. This includes a broader range of genres.