frequently asked questions

what is your cancellation policy?

For those students having private lessons, there is the option of having missed lessons due to illness, school activities, etc to be made up. The only exception to this is a family emergency. If you choose not to do a make-up lesson, you will be charged for the missed appointment regardless. Often times if you just need to switch times for the week, a change can be made, but please give me plenty of notice so we can arrange this. No-shows are always charged, and no make-up lesson will be offered.

If a student is participating in a group lesson and cannot make the lesson, the lesson will take place as normal so as to not disrupt the group.

is my child too old to start learning an instrument?
There is no cut-off age when it comes to learning a musical instrument. The only requirement is that your child is interested in learning. With older learners it is likely they will progress more quickly as they will likely have higher developed motor skills than younger learners.

am I too old to start learning?
No! My most mature student so far started at the grand age of seventy-four.

parent Involvement
I always welcome parents’ involvement in lessons. This is particularly important for very young learners, and especially in the early stages of learning. If your child is very young it is crucial that you have a clear idea of what we do in the lesson and of what is expected of your child during the week. You might like to sit in on a couple of lessons, come in for the last ten minutes, or just have a quick chat before you go home. This will enable you to support your child’s practice.

However, there are also great benefits to letting your child attend lessons alone. This gives your child the chance to form a relationship with me and to take ownership of the process of learning to play. I will always inform you of what I expect from your child with regard to practice and I will provide regular updates of your child’s progress.

Practicing plays a very important role in the development of a student’s playing, but, particularly for very young students, it might not always take an obvious form. For small children just starting out, practice will often include less obvious tasks such as singing, drawing or simple games. While not directly related to playing the piano, they will help the student in many different ways, not least by being fun activities and keeping them interested.

As your progresses more will be expected of them and this will be negotiated between your child, you and myself. If you are worried that your child is not doing enough practice or the wrong kind of practice contact me in the first instance and we can work out a plan of attack.

It is important to remember that playing the piano is something that your child should feel is his or her thing, and that by letting them get on with it, you are doing them the biggest favour.

My advice for parents of children learning an instrument is to first of all ask the teacher what their expectations are with regard to practicing. Particularly with children who are just starting out, it might be that the teacher expects minimal practice, or practice of a different kind, for example, singing, games, drawing.

what should I do if my child doesn’t practice?

If you are concerned about either the amount of practice being set or the amount your child is actually doing, please contact me so we can discuss your concerns. Sometimes it does more harm to try and force your child to practice than to let them work it out for themselves or in conjunction with me. Children are more likely to practice if they feel like they are in control and that playing the piano is their special activity.

How to practice is something that I discuss regularly with my students, as it is such an integral part of the process of learning an instrument.

what happens if I miss a lesson?
I require payment at the beginning of each school term. If your child is sick or you know ahead of time that you will not be able to make it, please contact me as soon as possible and I will try to reschedule the lesson. If you do not wish to reschedule you will still be charged for the lesson. If you do not turn up for a lesson and have not let me know ahead of time you will be charged for the lesson and no make-up lesson will be provided.

can we suggest pieces for our child to learn to play/sing?
Please feel free to suggest pieces for your child or for yourself to play or sing. I will try to incorporate all suggestions as long as they are appropriate for the level at which you or your child are playing.

why doesn’t my child learn to read music straight away?
With the methods I prefer, reading music is delayed. But this doesn’t mean that your child isn’t learning. Your child will be developing a strong sense of rhythm and pitch, learning how to use his/her arms, hands, and fingers and learning where the notes are on the piano. And most importantly, he/she will be developing his/her general musicality. All this means that when we do start with music-reading students have a good basis from which to work. And it doesn’t mean your child won’t be playing songs. Right from the start students play simple pieces to which they will sing along.

is it necessary to have an instrument at home?
Yes, it is important that you have an appropriate instrument at home. While it is possible to learn some of the basics without one, having a piano or suitable keyboard means that you or your child will gain much more enjoyment from learning and progress more quickly than without one.

what should we look for when buying a keyboard?
There are a number of things to consider when buying a keyboard:
1. Make sure it has a full complement of keys (88).
2. Buy one with fully weighted keys. This means that the keys are like those of
a piano, with a heavier touch.
3. Make sure the keys are the same width as on a piano. If the keys are too
narrow students who then try to play a piano or keyboard with wider keys will
have trouble hitting the right notes.
4. Make sure the keyboard has a piano sound with which you are happy.
5. You don’t need lots of different sounds or other bells and whistles.
6. Consider whether you want a keyboard with built-in speakers or not. If not,
you will need to buy speakers and possibly stands for them, too.
7.Unless it is a digital piano with a frame (a console piano) you will most likely
have to also buy a stand for the piano to rest on.
8. You will also need a suitable piano stool, and preferably one that is adjustable. It is very important that you or your child are at the
correct height to play comfortably and with the correct arm position.

what if we decide not to continue lessons?
If you decide not to continue with lessons, please let me know at least four weeks prior to the end of term.