1. Do you offer gift certificates? Yes, we do. See our Gift Certificate page for more details.
2. What age do you recommending starting children with lessons on an instrument? Age 5 on piano, under right circumstance (see question 3) but preferably age 6. Other instruments around 7 1/2 but younger, under right circumstances (see question 3).
3. How would I know if it is the right time to start lessons for my child? If a child is well behaved, likes learning, asks about or wants to learn an instrument, and is not hyperactive, then it could be worth considering. For students under 6 1/2, it would be important for a parent to be present and participate during or at end of lesson, depending on the student's needs.
4. What can the parents of young students aged five through ten do to help their children be more successful with their music lesson program? For the parents, getting involved and interested in their children's program is very important. Parents can instill a passion for playing by exposing their children to different types of music. They can also help by getting students into a planned practice schedule, at the same time each weekday and with a planned time for the weekend if different. Now this puts an emphasis on practice as a way of life, just like eating lunch, etc. It will become a routine. If you leave practice to chance, the practice will be less time, irregular and progress will suffer. Parents should be enthusiastic and supportive of the students efforts by listening to them practice and giving them compliments and encouragement.
Some real life examples
- I remember a call I received from a parent of a six year old girl. I mentioned to this woman that she should participate in her daughter's session or at least be available for last ten minutes of lesson. I needed this time so I could review with her what her daughter was working on. In addition I would give her helpful ideas each week on how she could be of help to me and her daughter. She told me that another studio said just to drop of her daughter and come back in a half hour. My response was that this would produce poor results and I care too much about my students to suggest something that wouldn't help them. I learned long time ago that this method will not work for this age group and younger.
- My first experience with this came from a girl who had just turned seven. The housekeeper would bring the student to the lessons each week and leave. Each lesson, the student would do poorly. After about five weeks, I asked the student what she does with her guitar in between lessons. To my amazement she told me that she puts it in the closet when she goes home and then takes it out when coming to the next lesson. I spoke to the housekeeper about this and her response was that mother works a lot of hours and does not have time to work with the child. I asked if she would help out but the housekeeper said it was not part of her job. I told the family that I could not help them under these conditions. It might possibly work in a few years when this child is older and could handle doing more on her own.
- It took one more bad situation before I started requiring a parent's involvement. In this case, I had a seven year old boy that did not do well but his mother was available to discuss the problem. I asked what they do for practice. She said that her son practices in the attic and she really did not know what he was doing. We discussed some of the alternatives. After changes were made, this student improved. After this second bad experience, I decided to go over parent involvement, and give more direction on practice and practice environment.
5. Do you offer private and group lessons? Only private lessons are offered to beginners. There are too many things that can go wrong at this stage and I want to be watching a student at all times to catch these problems. I do offer group workshops for intermediate and advanced students where the technical problems are not likely to happen. I will hear what is played and it is not necessary to see every little detail at this stage.
6. How long are lessons? Most lessons are one hour.
7. Will my child be able to sit through an hour lesson? I have been asked this a lot. I work differently than most other teachers and very seldom have this problem. In 1994, the mother of a ten-year old told me that her son could not sit through a half hour lesson at another studio. I suggested that she try lessons with me and we could evaluate the situation. If her son had a problem, we could always reduce lesson time. I like having the time to do things in a very thorough, calm, caring and organized manner. Much thought process goes into this method and I give parents detailed information on what they can do to help. When the student mentioned above finished his seventh lesson, he asked in shock, “Is the lesson over already?”. The mother said that if she was not sitting there, she would never have believed that he said this.
8 . Do you offer a trial lesson? The answer is no, I don’t. One lesson will give a person an idea of what to expect between teacher and student relationship and a little idea of what to expect with lessons but not much else. It generally takes between six to twelve weeks for a student to know whether they are going to like lessons or not. This is why musical instruments are rented for twelve weeks at a time. What generally happens is the student will not know the commitment that is needed and will fall behind on their assignments. As a teacher I will see this and try to explain the problem. I will also give advice on the way they should deal with this. I will also try to motivate them in some way. If this does not work, they fall farther behind and lose interest. It is at this time that they realize that they are not willing to put in the commitment necessary to play a musical instrument and will think about stopping lessons. Also, from my standpoint, it is not a fair assessment to judge a student after one lesson. There have been many students, children and adults, who have struggled for 6 to 7 lessons and then became good students afterwards. Part of this improvement is due to my customizing the lesson for the student. I show them how to practice better, be more organized and how to pay more attention to detail. When a student understands the overall process, they become comfortable, know what to expect and become more productive.
CLICK HERE TO SEE OUR COMPLETE ARTICLE ON WHY TRIAL LESSONS FAIL.
9. How long does it take to learn an instrument? This depends on the instrument (some instruments are easier than others), the students practice, ability and age if very young. On piano, some nice things (classical, rock n' roll, etc.) can be played by the fourth to ninth month.
10. How much practice is recommended? After the second or third lesson, 2 hours and 20 minutes a week or 20 very condensed minutes a day is recommended as minimum practice time. The more proper practice time a student does the faster they will progress. Proper practice is working in the way the teacher has instructed and not in a careless impatient way. Any time spent not playing your instrument should not be counted. If you miss a day, then spread out the missed time over the rest of the week. On these longer practice days, you can divide your practice into two smaller sessions.
11. How many lessons a week do you recommend? One lesson a week will be enough for most people. I have students who do take two lessons a week on the same instrument and others who take two lessons a week on two different instruments. Students who want to play professionally and people who say they will have a lot of time to practice are other reasons students take more than one lesson a week.
12. Do I need an instrument? The answer is yes. For each day you don’t practice after the lesson the more you will forget, and you can’t build the dexterity and the knowledge of your instrument, unless you have one.
13. What do I need to get started with piano lessons? If you are going to purchase this keyboard currently I would recommend a piano or keyboard with a minimum of 61 keys (a full keyboard has 88 keys). The keys should be full size. The width of a white key should be 7/8" wide plus or minus 1/32". Keys should be touch sensitive and weighted. A sustain pedal should be attached directly to the keyboard or it can be connected through the connecting jack or some other means. It is important that the keyboard has its own speaker system to amplify its sound. If you already have a keyboard that has less keys than 61 keys and have had it too long to return for an exchange, we could use this keyboard until you are ready for lesson material that you can't play on it. I have noticed that the average time a person can use a keyboard with less than 61 keys would be about 10 months if they did not have any prior music knowledge. We could extend this time a little by working with other than the regularly scheduled material if needed. The difference in price between the smaller keyboard like 37 and 49 key keyboards and the 61 key keyboard is in the $25.00 to $50.00 range.
14. Is there anything other than an instrument needed to get started? Most lesson material will be available for purchase when you come in for your lesson. If anything else is needed, I will inform you of that.
15. How do I get started?. You would call the studio, and we would discuss if you had any prior music background, and if so what it consisted of. Next I would work towards assessing what your needs are and what you want to accomplish with the instruction. After your needs are assessed, I will make recommendations and give you some insight on what to expect as a beginner and more of an overall picture if your have had prior music background or have special needs. If you do decide that it’s time for you to start, I would fill out the enrollment form, go over directions and what you should bring with you.
16. What should I bring to lesson? All portable instruments, directions, and payments in check or cash. Don’t bring keyboards and amplifiers. My studio is very well equipped with all but your personal instruments.
17. Does knowledge of one instrument help with learning another instrument? Absolutely. All the mental reading of music and any theory are all useable. You would retain considerable dexterity from one string instrument to another stringed instrument. The problem I find is that most people have not retained much from their prior lessons if they have not studied with me.
18. How important is talent? Effort is the biggest asset. Many of my average students became much better than a lot of talented students I have had. TALENT IS 90% EFFORT!
19. Do I need to have the ability to pick out melodies and/or have good note sound recognition? These abilities would make learning to play easier but most people improve on these skills as they continue to take their lessons. Playing a musical instrument does not rely on these abilities alone. Most students learn to play a musical instrument by reading music. If music is taught correctly (and generally it's not), you can play the music that you want to learn just by reading from the sheet music. This works like reading words. You can get books about any subject that you want to read. Music works the same way.
20. Can anyone learn to improvise? Most people can be taught to improvise with a teacher skilled in this ability. Many teachers will not offer this service. Some people have a little ability on their own prior to being taught improvisational skills. The student should be able to learn improvising by working with the right teacher and keeping in mind that talent is ninety percent effort.
21. Can a friend come to a lesson? I would not recommend this during the first two months of lessons. A well-behaved friend coming to a lesson now and then is usually fine. I try and take time to meet and talk to them at some point during their time here. I want them to feel welcomed
22. Do you accept disabled students or those who are mentally slow learning? Yes, provided this person has some sort of learning ability. For example, they learned how to read and write. Depending on physical disabilities certain instruments would be preferable over others. I have special exercises to help develop mental and physical coordination in these kinds of students. We do not just follow a normal lesson plan. Traditional instructional methods are generally not going to be the most practical approach to teaching these disadvantaged people how to play a musical instrument. I needed to develop some special programming to solve some of the problems that these special needs people have. Reasonable accommodations, including materials in an alternative format, will be made for individuals with disabilities
23. As a teacher, what do you find is the students biggest problem? The biggest problem I see is that students do not pay attention to detail of what they are told. I explain the best way to study the mental work and the best way to practice the physical playing. Some students can lose up to 90 percent of what they are told. They just don't work on the lesson material as instructed. When I see they are not paying attention to detail, I constantly review the instructions. Students are holding themselves back due to the time lost on ineffective practice. They generally improve as I keep after them and encourage them to pay more attention to detail. The best example I remember, was with a female English teacher from Teaneck who was in her mid thirties. I had given her a very specific project with her guitar lessons. This project had very specific instructions. She continued to have a problem with this particular item for seven months. I would review it with her from time to time, and each time we would review the instructions. Finally, one day seven months later she got it. I asked her, in surprise, what she did differently that week. Her response was that she got tired of not getting it and decided to try the way that I suggested. This is an extreme case, but is a problem with most all students to some degree. I tell my students that It’s like when you get medication to make you better but you take it erratically and you don’t get better. Figure how this would work in the above example if a person would only take ten percent of their medication. Only one of my teachers gave me a decent percentage of the help I give to my students. I remind students that what you put in is what you get out.
24. What are a few of the other problems that can hinder a student's progress? (a) Playing to fast before they understand what they are doing, (b) ignoring the timing and (c) playing without working out the proper counting of note values. I tell them to work out the count measure by measure, phrase by phrase and section by section. Typically, the student wants to play through their material without putting in the mental labor that goes into it. Ignoring the problem will not make it go away. By mastering these problems, you will be able to work out new material on your own while taking lessons and even after you stop. If this is not understood or done, you will always need a teacher to help you through the material.