Studio Policy

The piano studio is in a private home. Please remember to respect it as such.

ARRIVING FOR YOUR LESSON

  • Please park along the street (without blocking the mailbox please) or on the very right of the driveway in front of the single bay.

FOOTWEAR

  • Please remove your shoes as you enter the house.

Performance class footwear

FOOD AND DRINK

  • No gum, candy, food, or drink other than bottled water please.

LESSON FORMAT

Starting lessons in this studio, most students will attend two lessons, usually 30 min each, every week. This more frequent student-teacher contact and interaction reinforces the fundamental skills and practice techniques necessary for a successful and enjoyable piano experience. Twice weekly lessons also reduce the potential for incorrect practicing in between lessons, thus allowing us to focus more time on learning and less time on correcting inadvertent mistakes or having to re-learn last week’s concept. I am always more than willing to re-teach something if the student doesn’t understand the concept, but it is a waste of time to have to re-teach simply because too much time has elapsed since the last time we explored the new concept.

The goal is not to progress faster – though it is a welcome side effect – but to provide more frequent feedback, the way it happens in school: no one would think of sending a child to school once a week for 30 minutes, cram a lot of new information in, and then leave the child alone for an entire week. It is usually not until 6th grade that school children have to deal with a project the deadline of which is more than a few days away.

Students who are reliably independent in their practicing take 45-minute lessons or 60-min lessons, once or twice a week, depending on our goals.

Students who are getting ready for competitions or auditions need to be prepared to attend extra lessons.

Individual coaching sessions

Individual coaching sessions are available upon request and are billed differently from regular weekly lessons.

Group and performance classes

Time and scheduling permitting, in addition to private lessons there will be group and performance classes offered at no additional cost. I try to schedule group events at everyone’s convenience.

STUDENTS OF ALL AGES AND LEVELS ARE WELCOME.

  • I enjoy teaching all ages and levels, but for elementary school age children, I do require substantial parental involvement until students are approximately 10 years old. This means that a parent attends lessons along with the child and takes notes. Very rarely, a child focuses better without a parent present at the lesson. If a parent is not attending the lesson, I take a video of the lesson which I send to the parent to view. Parents of older students are also always welcome to sit in on lessons and observe.
  • Particular attention is given to a natural and injury-free technique and to thorough mastery of all studied materials. Parents are encouraged to take videos of my demonstrating certain techniques at the lesson. I maintain a YouTube channel with videos of technical aspects and of student literature. Videos of student performances are for the most part unlisted so only parents and students can access them.

THERE ARE LIMITED OPPORTUNITIES TO MAKE UP OR RESCHEDULE MISSED LESSONS.

  • I understand that children usually don’t give you 24 hours notice that they will be sick the next day and therefore unable to attend their piano lesson. However, the sooner I know that you will have to miss a lesson, the better; it allows me to make use of the time, perhaps offering the time to a different student who has a scheduling conflict. No-shows will not be made up.
  • Make-up lessons will be scheduled at my convenience.

ANY OUTSIDE PERFORMANCE BY THE STUDENT, BE IT FOR SCHOOL, CHURCH OR ANY OTHER VENUE, MUST BE DISCUSSED WITH THE TEACHER.

  • I take my work as your piano teacher seriously, and part of my job is to teach how to perform. Most students and parents underestimate what it takes to perform successfully in public. I have very high standards, for myself, and for my students, and dismissive comments about a proposed performance, such as, “oh, it doesn’t have to be perfect, it’s just for church …” are unacceptable.
  • From the very beginning, I teach mastery, rather than perfection. Bruce Berr, in the Autumn 1999 issue of “Keyboard Companion” says, “Newer teachers sometimes assume that because students are at an elementary level, they cannot play their pieces with mastery and artistry – this is not true! This is a matter of confusing standard with level.”

MAKING PHOTOCOPIES IN ORDER TO AVOID PURCHASE IS ILLEGAL.

  • Students are expected to purchase all needed music scores. Once a student owns the score, we may make photocopies in order to facilitate a page turn, or in order to be able to look at all pages of a longer piece at once (particularly useful for visual learners). Occasionally, in order to check our level of understanding of a piece, we may cut apart the photocopy into individual lines of music and attempt to reassemble it, like a puzzle.

PRACTICING

  • Practicing is a skill that needs to be taught and learned and practiced. Practicing is so much more than just playing through a piece numerous times, hoping it will somehow, magically, improve. One of my goals as a piano teacher is to teach my students how to practice, efficiently and effectively.
  • Most children are as enthusiastic about practicing as they are about brushing their teeth. And just like they need to be taught, initially, how to brush their teeth, and then supervised for quite a while until you are confident they know how and will do it correctly, all students need to be taught how to practice (my job), and then supervised at home (your job) for a long time.
  • Parental supervision is necessary and should happen in a supportive and loving manner. For younger students, this means that you need to be in the same room as your child, go over the assignment with your child every time he or she sits down to practice, and then be there and available to ask leading questions, answer his or her questions, comment in a supportive manner on progress made – or lack of progress.
  • “The real key to vivid engagement with music isn’t slowness. It’s attention. But most of us are so used to speeding through all of our activities, including our practicing, that we need to slow down a lot at first in order to discover the power of attention. As we develop our listening capacity much more, it operates fully at faster and faster speeds. In other words, practicing is as much about training our ears as it is about training our muscles.” (Madeline Bruser)

All students must have a good instrument at home for practice. A good quality studio upright (approximately 44 to 48 inches tall) or a good quality console (approximately 40 to 43 inches tall) would make an excellent instrument. These instruments have strings long enough to produce a rich, full sound. Studio uprights many times have longer strings than “baby” grand pianos and consequently a better sound and playing experience.

I am happy to accompany any student to area piano stores to help with the selection of an instrument. The Blue Book of Pianos website is an excellent online source of information about the different styles of pianos for those wanting to do some research.  And Martha Beth Lewis offers her informed opinion on different piano brands.

Years ago, when I was a traveling piano teacher, I discovered an unexpected advantage: I got to see the instrument on which my students practiced as well as the setup and environment in which they practiced. Occasionally, a parent would apologetically say, “I am sorry, we only have a – ” and then proceed to tell me what they “only” had: a digital keyboard, an old piano that needs tuning, etc. – followed by, “I don’t know if that is good enough for lessons.”

That’s a curious thought. It begs the question: how can something that’s “not good enough” for teaching  possibly be good enough for practicing?

Think about it: if your piano at home is not good enough – how can you possibly expect to make progress?

WISE WORDS

“Children need to move so that they become well acquainted with their bodies in order to learn how to hold still!  Children need quiet, focused listening – someone pointing out the sound of that bird, or the wind, just for a few seconds – to be able to tune in to individual sounds.  Moving and listening are core ingredients in every Musikgarten class; we intentionally limit the visual stimuli so that later – at the appropriate time for a child – we will be able to sit down, look and listen.” ~ Dr. Lorna Heyge, Founder of Musikgarten

Save