Frequently Asked Questions

See current rates.  The first lesson will include a free 15-minute orientation. Payment for lessons can be made in advance, or on a weekly basis (cash or check)

Music books will be provided and I will bill you my cost. Music should be paid for on a timely basis.  Most methods use a 3-book approach: repertoire/lesson book; technique (exercise) book; theory workbook.  This 3-book method runs between $20-30 total and should take the average young student 6-9 months to complete.  Additional books ($8 – $20) or sheet music (about  $4 per piece) will probably be added as the student progresses. This would include Christmas books or music that the student is specifically interested in.  Popular music (Top 40 radio tunes) and Disney-type music tend to run a little more.  The point is that music is not extremely expensive, and there will not be new music introduced often.  Additional music geared to the student’s interests will encourage additional practice and make the experience more fun!  Additionally, I use an assignment book that helps remind you and your child of the assignment each week.

As students progress, a METRONOME is an invaluable tool. These are available at any music store at a wide range of prices starting at around $20.

Students may also want a separate bag or folder to store and carry their music and materials.

Ideally, piano students should have access to a piano, preferably in their own home.  Digital keyboards are acceptable as long as the keyboard has full size “weighted keys.” This means that the harder you hit the key, the louder it will sound.  Tabletop keyboards usually have mini keys that aren’t weighted.  The keyboard should have its own stand.  It should also have a pedal, though this isn’t necessary until the second year of lessons.  The bench or chair (straight-backed) should be the right size for the student so that they are high enough and don’t have to reach up for the keys.

If an instrument at home is not possible, one may be available for use at a relative’s home or church.  A practice plan will be essential in this case so that adequate time is spent at the keyboard.

Acoustic (non-electric) pianos should be tuned as needed; once per year should be often enough, though some tune in the fall after  the furnace goes on, then again after the furnace goes off.  Let your ear be your guide, but plan to have your piano tuned at least once per year.  A simple tuning costs between $75 and $100.

Student should bring all books and music, as well as their assignment book.  I record the student’s weekly assignments and make notes as needed.  Feel free to check the assignment book at any time.  The student may want to record daily practice time in the same book.  Students should also bring a PENCIL (or a few pencils!)

In the event of a missed lesson due to sickness, I will work with you to schedule a make-up lesson. You will be charged for a “no show” (absent, no phone call.) In any case, if you will miss your scheduled lesson, please call as soon as possible.

Let me know about family vacations or any planned absences. I teach year-round, though most school-age students taper off lessons in the summer, then resume in the fall. Let me know what kind of schedule you prefer.

If another lesson is in progress, students can wait on a bench on the front porch, or If weather is bad or cold, they can enter quietly and sit at the kitchen room table until it is their turn.

This is the key to improvement. Students should aim for AT LEAST two hours per week – more if they can manage it. Beginners and younger students will need parental involvement to help with the practice time. A parent should not sit on the bench with the student and “coach” the practicing. Setting a timer or being an audience once in awhile may be all that is needed. Younger students might benefit from short bursts of practice more often versus extended practice sessions. For all students, “cramming” practices in at the last minute, or trying to do marathon sessions, is not productive. It is better to practice consistently – even if each session is relatively short.

PRACTICE TIP: Be sure music books are always marked with PENCILS, not pens. That way, mistakes are easily corrected and books can be cleaned up for younger siblings.

An informal spring recital is planned at the end of the school year. It is an opportunity to work toward a goal date with a piece or two that is thoroughly prepared. Family and friends are invited; refreshments are provided.

I will provide books at your first lesson (and bill you the cost.)  You should bring all lesson books as well as your assignment book to every lesson.  As your progress, a METRONOME is an invaluable tool and well-worth the small investment.

This is the key to improvement. You get out what you put in. You need to plan your ahead to make sure you get time in on your instrument. Aim for AT LEAST two hours per week – more if you can manage it (try using a timer.)  “Cramming” practices in at the last minute, or trying to do marathon sessions, is not productive. It is better to practice consistently – even if each session is relatively short.

Efficient practice: practice what you DON’T know and CAN’T play. If time is short, do spot practice on problems. Reward yourself by playing a piece straight through. Don’t “practice” things you can already play.

Occasionally a lesson day arrives when you had no time to practice.  This happens from time to time because life is sometimes very complicated. THIS IS NOT A REASON TO SKIP A LESSON. We can still accomplish some beneficial work: we may focus on one particular piece and work it out together, we may do some sight reading or memorization, or we might do some problem-solving. What we WON’T do is stumble through a lesson for 30 minutes. If I know the situation at the outset, we can spend our lesson time together in the most productive way.

The methods I use most often are Faber & Faber, Alfred, and Bastien.  Most methods are similar in approach, but they are not identical.  I try to match the method to the student.  It is easiest (and most economical!) when siblings use the same books, but a new workbook may have to be purchased with each sibling to give them blank pages to work with.

You will also have additional sheet music available, as well as anything that interests you (such as books of Disney music.)

An informal spring recital is planned at the end of the school year. It is an opportunity to work toward a goal date with a piece or two that is thoroughly prepared. Family and friends are invited and refreshments are provided.

Repetition is the key here. Technical exercises should be played daily from beginning to end. Challenge yourself by increasing tempo each time, by memorization, by creating different rhythms for the exercises. The benefit comes from the repetition.

In the event of a missed lesson due to sickness, I will work with you to schedule a make-up lesson.  In any case, if you will miss your scheduled lesson, please call as soon as possible.

Let me know about family vacations or any planned absences. I teach year-round, though most school-age students taper off lessons in the summer, then resume in the fall.  I can accommodate your schedule.

Other Resources

 

10 Tips on How to Practice Piano
Yahoo Contributor Network Oct 24 2006

What’s the most efficient way to practice?  Read this article and find out!

 

5 Ways to Keep Your Child Playing Piano
Yahoo Contributor Network May 6 2010

Here’s a good article with pointers on how to handle a child whose enthusiasm for practicing may be decreasing.  Read it here

 

How Music Could Make You a Rocket Scientist
ABC News Oct 27 2013

“There is a very strong correlation between childhood engagement in the creative arts and measurable success later in life, researchers at Michigan State University have found….” Keep reading

 

Need a Piano Teacher? How to Pick the Right One
University of Michigan News Service  Apr 17 2007

“‘Good teachers will have a considerable background,’ Benson says. ‘They will seek out opportunities to continue their own professional development. And in addition to loving music, they will also love working with people and will be committed to someone else’s success…'” Keep reading