SOME EXAMPLES OF SUCCESSFUL CIRCUIT RIDER GROUPS

Three locations taking advantage of the Circuit Rider Program contributed the following narratives about how they run their program.

Example 1: Florida
We use a formula for distributing the $50/hour among those who participate; e.g. $10/hour each for 5 part—there are a few 6 part consorts, but we use $10 per hour for that too. Anything extra goes to the teacher, either as tuition or covering extra expenses not covered by the grant. Since the sessions (except for private lessons) tend to be 1½ - 2 hours, we can prorate, but we don't do change any more. Too troublesome. Some people put in extra, anyway.

Sample Schedule:

Teacher arrives in the evening

Day 1
-First Consort gathers at around 10 a.m. and has coaching on prepared pieces.
-Lunch
-More coaching of the consort and/or private lessons in the afternoon
-Dinner and social playing (others join the consort, sometimes tag-team)

Day 2
-Both Consorts & anyone else who wants joins for Technique Class around 10 a.m. (This session is $10 each per hour, no matter how many are present--this gives us a cushion to cover extra expenses that the grant may not cover.)
-After Lunch, Consort 2 gets coaching on prepared pieces; followed by private lessons if any.
-Dinner and social playing

Day 3 (morning only)
-Consort 2 or whatever is left of it (usually a trio) gets coaching. Could also be a private lesson
-Quick lunch and teacher is taken to the airport by 2 p.m.

If there is only one consort things are considerably more relaxed (what we had the first 2 years). The 2 years we "shared" our teacher with a group in Bradenton/Sarasota, I drove to a half-way rest stop to collect her after her sessions in Sarasota. I believe she came Weds. eve. into Tampa, taught some lessons there Thursday, then was taken to a host Thursday night and taken to Sarasota to teach people from about a 40 mile radius on Friday morning & afternoon, before being brought to the rendezvous. This year we are fortunate to have 2 consorts (with 2 of us in both consorts). It is more complicated to do the scheduling, but it has worked so far.

In addition to putting up the teacher, the local host(s) provide sleeping accommodations for out of town participants: this sometimes means their bringing along air mattresses.

For more information regarding the Florida model contact Suzanne Ferguson.

Example 2: Nova Scotia
The model that we have been using for a long time in Halifax may be useful to other locations.

At the beginning of the year, everybody who is taking part pays their total estimated fees for the whole year. This money is deposited in a bank account and we draw on it to pay the instructor. The amount that each person pays covers at least four private lessons, plus a bit more for participation in group coaching sessions. I suppose that if we didn't get enough people to commit at this stage we would not go ahead with the season, but this has never happened.

There is a clear understanding that this money is not refundable, and that the instructor will be paid even if the participant fails to show up or can't be there due to family obligations, travel, or whatever.

This has three positive effects: 1. We can guarantee that the instructor will be paid for the minimum ten hours that they expect on each visit. 2. Participants, having already made a substantial financial commitment, are more likely to remain a part of the program, practicing for the next visit, scheduling time for their lesson and generally taking part in the process. 3. The organizers don't have to chase after people to get them to pay up for each visit.

We sometimes have extra participants who just want to take advantage of the instructor's presence, and they pay her directly for the their lesson.

We schedule each visit in a cooperative way, choosing a weekend which works for as many people as possible. In the weeks before the visit, we build a detailed schedule of teaching sessions, consort classes etc., involving all participants including the instructor. The weekend always includes a massive pot-luck dinner which is a great opportunity for all to get together in a very informal setting.

Sample Schedule:

Friday evening
6:30 - 7:30 private lesson 1
7:30 - 7:45 break
7:45 - 8:45 private lesson 2
8:45 - 9:00 break
9:00 - 10:00 private lesson 3

Saturday
12:45 - 1:45 private lesson 4
1:45 - 2:00 break
2:00 - 3:00 private lesson 5
3:00 - 3:15 break
3:15 - 4:15 trio 1
4:15 - 4:30 break
4:30 - 5:30 Trio 2
5:30 - 7:00 potluck
7:00 - 8:15 technique class for all
8:15 - 8:30 break
8:30 - 9:30 duet
Sunday
11:00 - 12:00 private lesson 6
12:00 - 12:45 lunch
12:45 - 1:45 private lesson 7
1:45 - 2:00 break
2:00 - 3:00 private lesson 8
3:00 - 3:15 break
3:15 - 4:15 private lesson 9
4:15 - 4:30 break
4:30 - 5:30 private lesson 10

For more information regarding the Nova Scotia model contact Peter Payzant.

Example 3: Mississippi
Since we were trying to draw players from an approximately 500 mile radius, we began by sending out a "study with" letter to all prospective players. We had five beginner viol players and charged them $25 for the weekend. We borrowed viols for them and loaned them for free for the entire program. This is not including the family of four from Nashville who came once, and six regulars at varying levels. In the end we had players from such diverse loactions as Carbondale, Birmingham, and Memphis.

We really worked our teacher hard and think, in hindsight, that it was too big. We just didn't realize we'd have quite so many say "yes." Especially beginners.

Sample "study with" document:

Study with a world class viol performer and teacher

[biography of teacher goes here.]

We will be holding weekend study and playing sessions at our home in Oxford, MS on the following dates:

September 24-26, 2010
November 12-14, 2010
February 11-13, 2011
May 6-8, 2011

We have received a grant from the Viola da Gamba Society of America to defray some of the expenses.

WHAT YOU WILL GET:
Free room and board at our house, pending availability and need! At least one lesson (private or masterclass format) and plenty of group playing. A lesson plan for the academic year Unlimited e-mail and phone consultations with your teacher throughout the year.

HOW TO GET ON BOARD:
Reply to this e-mail or call Susan at 662/816-9959 Pay a $50 registration fee for each weekend (payable that weekend). Additional fee for private lesson to be determined. Make a good faith effort to attend each of the scheduled weekends.

We hope to have a cohort of beginners also, so if you have any friends who might be interested in learning, please have them contact us for details.

This is a fabulous opportunity and will also be lots of fun, so we hope you'll join us! Please call or write if you have any questions.


Sample schedule:

Oxford Circuit Weekend, November 12-14, 2010

Friday
morning -- private lessons with Ron and Susan
Lunch on the town
afternoon - private lesson(s)
Dinner and general play-in (include newbies — easy pieces)

Saturday
9:00 - 9:30 Intro for newest newbies
9:30 - 10:30 Coach newbies, informal experibies consorts
10:30 Coffee break
10:45 - 11:45 Coach experibies, Newbies practice and/or recuperate
12::00 - 1:00 Lunch in-house
1:00 - 2:00 Newbies group session & more self-coached consorts
2:00 - 3:30 Break for naps, gabbing, or consorts
3:30 - 4:30 Technique for all levels - tutti
4:30 - 6:00 Smaller ensembles, all levels, with teacher rotating and coaching
6:00 Dinner with all, including local family member(s) or friend - in house
8:00 More playing, with libations - or perhaps stargazing

Sunday
morning - private lessons & informal consorts
11:30 lunch
1:00 Coach newbies or perhaps continue smaller coached ensembles
3:00 tearful departures

For more information regarding the Mississipi model contact Susan Marchant.