Studio policies

For each prospective student, I like to set up a brief interview/assessment with the child and parent(s) in which we see if we’d be a good match. You may also observe another student’s lesson to get a sense of my teaching style.

 Tuition

Tuition is paid in monthly installments toward a yearly balance. Therefore, there is a flat fee per month, 9 months of the year (tuition is the same every month, regardless of number of weeks or actual lessons in a month).

Please contact me for current rates.

Tuition for the month is due on the first lesson of that month. Cash, checks, and payments through Paypal accepted. There’s also a payment link on my website if you wish to pay with a credit card.

Full tuition is paid regardless of absences due to any reason (vacations, illness, etc.) See “Missed Lessons” below.

If your child comes home with new books or materials, payment for those materials is due with tuition at the beginning of the next month.

Tuition not only covers the student’s lesson, but it also helps pay for:
–piano/flute maintenance
–studio expenses and upkeep (technology, aesthetics, website, office materials)
–lending library (music books, CDs)
–recital hall rental fee; recital programs; recital refreshments
–my own professional development/continuing education
–membership in professional music associations
–self-employment taxes, retirement
–music lesson preparation time for each student
–trips to the music store

Missed Lessons/Make-ups

Tuition will not be refunded for missed lessons, regardless of the reason. If you need to miss a lesson, please call me at least 2 hours in advance if possible.

Due to my full teaching schedule I do not offer random one-on-one make-up lessons if you miss a lesson (I do not schedule make-up lessons during non-teaching hours). Instead there will be 2 group make-up performance classes instead of one-on-one make-ups. However, if a spot opens up during the week due to a cancellation from another student I’ll send out an email if you wish to take that slot as a make-up lesson.

Make-ups for a lesson missed during the school year cannot be made up during summer session. Lessons missed during the summer cannot be made up during the school year.

As an alternative to make-ups I offer:

–Group make-up/ Performance classes (at no extra cost): See “Performance Classes” below.

A longer lesson time for a sibling: if siblings are scheduled back-to-back and one is absent, the other sibling will be offered their sibling’s lesson time, as well as their own (so if they both take 30-min. lessons, the sibling who is available will have an hour-long lesson that week).

–A make-up lesson during another student’s cancelled lesson time.

The missed lesson is forfeited if a student is not able to attend a performance class or scheduled make-up.

If your child is sick, please don’t bring them to lessons.

Inclement weather: If school dist. 197 cancels school then lessons may or may not be canceled—I will send out an email/text if I decide to cancel lessons. If I cancel lessons, I will schedule an additional group lesson as a make-up towards the end of the school year.

If I have to miss a lesson, I will schedule a make-up or offer you a credit for the next month’s lesson.

Lesson Time

Please be on time. Out of respect for other students, lessons will end at the scheduled time regardless of what time you arrive.

Please allow a 5 minute window at the end of each lesson so the student has time to put on their coats and shoes and gather their books. For this reason, I would recommend not scheduling another activity within 30 minutes of the end of the lesson time.

Vacations
–If you are leaving for vacation and will miss the first lesson of the month when tuition is due, please pay tuition before you leave for vacation.

Dropping out of music study

If you wish to discontinue lessons, we’ll plan on having the last lesson the last week of the month. If you quit lessons at the beginning or middle of the month after tuition has been paid there will be no refunds or make-up lessons offered, and your child’s spot may be filled by someone on the waiting list.

I may ask families to take a break from lessons if I sense a lack of interest or a lack of consistent practice.

Termination of lessons

Lessons may be terminated at any time by the teacher for any reason. Potential reasons include: failure to comply with studio policies, failure to pay tuition on time, repeated tardiness or missed lessons, disruptive or disrespectful behaviors, and failure to respect the teacher’s home and studio.

Calendar

School-year lessons run from September through May. I follow the public school (ISD 197) calendar for major holidays and the start of the year. In other words, lessons start just after Labor Day in September and will end the end of May. There will be no lessons during major holiday breaks (Thanksgiving, Christmas/New Years, Easter/Spring Break).

There are still lessons on minor holidays, such as President’s Day, even if there is no school. Or, if there is no school for another reason (such as parent–teacher conferences) there will still be lessons.

At the beginning of the school year I’ll put together a calendar of important studio dates to remember (recitals, performance classes, lesson breaks, etc).

Summer Lessons

Summer lessons run from June through August and are optional. Six or more lessons during the summer are recommended, and may be spread out over the summer. Also, depending on schedule availability, your child may take two lessons in a week to accommodate vacations and camps. Payment for the entire summer is due at the beginning of June. Those who take summer lessons with me have priority for fall scheduling:

*In order to reserve a spot for fall lessons, you must take a minimum of 6 half-hour lessons (or 3 one-hour lessons) during the summer.

Arrivals/Dismissals

Please take off your shoes before entering the music studio.

If you are going to be late for a lesson, a call is appreciated.

Please be careful inside and outside of my home. I relinquish any liability for accidents that happen on my property.

I’d prefer it if your child waits inside after a lesson. I cannot be responsible for them once they leave the front door. For this reason, I encourage parents to pick up their children on time.

If I am with a student when you arrive, feel free to enter the front door without knocking.

Please be quiet when arriving and leaving out of respect for students currently in a lesson.

Performing Opportunities

Recitals: There is one formal recital per year in April or May. Family members are encouraged to play duets with their children during these recitals.

Performance classes: These are 1-hour small-group classes at my studio where students get the opportunity to play solos for each other (as in an informal masterclass), play duet and ensemble music, and play music-related games. They are provided at no extra cost, are optional, and will take place 2-4 times per school year. These can be used as make-up lessons, or if your child is simply interested in attending. These classes are for students only. Two performance classes equal 4 half-hour make-up lessons per school year.

Adjudications, festivals, competitions, assessments: Through my memberships in MTNA and APPI there are numerous opportunities to perform in/compose for festivals, adjudications, assessments, and competitions. Also, through the Royal Conservatory Achievement Program (http://theachievementprogram.org/) there are opportunities to perform for music assessments (exams). Let me know if you and your child are interested in these events.

I encourage you to find additional, informal opportunities for your children, including mini-recitals or jam sessions for/with friends and family, church playing, school talent shows, etc. Parents and other family members are highly encouraged to make music along with their children regularly at home. A good book for getting started in daily family music-making is All Together Singing in the Kitchen: Creative Ways to Make and Listen to Music as a Family by Nerissa & Katryna Nields.

Materials

Students must bring to each lesson:

–all books (usually includes a lesson book, a repertoire book, and a theory/activity book at least)

–an assignment notebook: either a 3-ring binder with notebook paper, plain notebook, or assignment notebook from a music store.

–staff paper for composition and theory activities.

–a tote bag or book bag with which to carry these materials

At home:
–a metronome

–a tuner (for flute students)

–music stand (for flute students)

–pencils with erasers

–a variety of music books and sheet music

–a variety of music (as CDs or other) for at-home listening. Check the public library for CDs, Amazon Music Unlimited, Minnesota Public Radio/Classical, KBEM Jazz 88.5 (jazz during the week, bluegrass on Saturday mornings), and KFAI 90.3 for a wide variety of eclectic music. Pop is okay–just make sure to change it up every once in a while with other styles, such as classical, jazz/blues, world, folk, etc. If children aren’t exposed to lots of different kinds of music on a regular basis, they have a hard time “hearing it” in their heads and will have a hard time playing /reading music. Dancing/moving and singing to music is especially recommended.

–a CD player (or iPod, iPad, or laptop) close to the piano to listen and play/sing along with CDs that come with their method books or supplementary repertoire.

Instruments:

Piano students:
All families must have a decent-quality acoustic piano or full-sized (88 key) digital piano with weighted keys and pedal attachment. Beginning or new transfer students need an acoustic piano or full-sized digital piano with weighted keys before lessons start. If you have questions about purchasing a piano vs. a digital piano, or about the necessity of a piano, please contact me.

Please maintain your piano properly: have it tuned twice year, provide adequate humidity levels during the winter, and have a technician fix anything that needs to be fixed.

Benches: make sure the bench is adjusted to the appropriate height for your child. If you have a non-adjustable bench, a young child may need pillows or phone books to sit on.

Flute students:
A high-quality flute (closed or open hole) that is maintained regularly is necessary. Please contact me with questions about different brands of flutes.

Practicing

Every student is expected to practice/play the piano 6-7 days a week:
–Age 6-7: 15-20 min./day
–Age 8-12 (or beginning to early intermediate): 30-45 min./day
–Age 13 and up (mid-late intermediate to advanced): 45-60+ min./day.

(Try to practice the same amount of time that your lesson is; for example, if you have a 30-minute lesson per week, practice daily for 30 minutes).

Set a daily practicing schedule for your child, preferably at the same time everyday (not necessarily a specific time, but situational, i.e. “before dinner” or “after school and before homework” or “before bed”) so it becomes part of a child’s routine.

Parents are welcome to attend lessons with their child at any time (to observe). Parents of beginning students aged 6-8 are strongly encouraged to attend weekly lessons with their child for the first 2 months.

A note on over-scheduling:

Remember, children need time and energy to practice. Prioritize after-school activities: what’s most important for your family? If music lessons are down lower on the list, you might try enrolling in summer lessons instead.

Parent Expectations

Parent expectations:

  • Provide a pleasant space for practicing (quiet, organized, inspirational).

  • Help your child find time to practice daily, preferably at the same time.

  • Be present and available for help during practice (especially with young children).

  • Provide a musical home on a regular basis: listen to a variety of music (especially classical, jazz, world, and folk), take your child to concerts, play an instrument and sing with your children (professional skills and perfect pitch not required!).

  • Communicate with the teacher about concerns, progress, or questions on a regular basis (email, phone, or in person).

  • Provide a quality instrument and maintain it regularly.

  • Sit in on a lesson occasionally or weekly (especially if you have a 6-7 year-old child in lessons).

  • Express interest and joy in your child’s progress. 

  • Keep your child’s fingernails short with clean hands for the lesson and for practicing.

  • Don’t use piano practice as a punishment (keep practice sessions as positive as possible).

  • Don’t judge your child, and be kind during practice. Read: Helping Parents Practice by Edmund Sprunger.

  • Play is okay at the piano: improvisation, and sound exploration and discovery are part of the process.