Studio Policy

Responsibilities
 

Teacher: To teach in a professional manner, with the student's well-being in mind at all times. To teach the student with attention to the student's needs and preferences. To answer questions clearly and check for understanding. To include the parent or guardian as part of the team. To include the parent or guardian in all email or text communication with the student. To be available for the parent or guardian to discuss, privately and not in front of the student, any concerns or challenges the student is having; and to address those positively with the student, so that the parent can be seen purely as the student’s strongest supporter. To ensure that the student's homework assignment is clear and that the student has been prepared to accomplish it. To continue with the teacher’s own music practicing and education so as to always provide the highest standard of teaching to the student.
 
Student: To be diligent in learning. To ask questions. To express likes and dislikes about music-learning activities after trying them, so that the teacher can customize the lessons. To complete homework assignments on time. To text completed homework assignments to the teacher for grading, if old enough. To take notes during lessons, if old enough. To participate in the weekly group session with other students when it is offered. To work cheerfully with the teacher and the parent or guardian as part of the team.
 
Parent: To provide the learning environment the student needs, which includes playing the ear-training recordings for the student 3 times a day (the recordings are pleasant, high-quality music). To text completed homework assignments to the teacher if the student is too young to do so. To assist the student in being on time for lessons. To provide quiet during lessons. To sit in on lessons attentively, showing interest in what the student is learning. To take notes for the student, during lessons, if the student is too young to do so. To pay on time for lessons and expenses. To provide the needed equipment, materials, and software for study. To keep the home's acoustic piano playable by having it tuned and regulated two times per year (one month into winter, and one month into spring). To remind the student to practice if reminders are needed. To make practice times fun and encouraging, and to provide assistance during practice sessions with guidance from the teacher. To be the student’s strongest supporter; this includes speaking positively to the student regarding any music matters, and contacting the teacher privately to discuss concerns and challenges.

 

Lessons

Students are expected to attend one fifty-minute lessons per week. Once a month, the lesson will instead be a group lesson with peers, who also are attending their fifty-minute lessons the rest of the month. The solo lessons and group lessons will be scheduled ahead of time.

In addition, students are encouraged to schedule up to 6 practice check-ups per week, using the online scheduler. Students (or their parents) sign up for these sessions according to whatever schedule fits them best. The sessions are 5-10 minutes long, and give the student practice support. Sometimes the students will have questions about what they are practicing, other times they will just enjoy having positive feedback from the teacher. Students (or their parents) are in charge of scheduling these sessions, using an online scheduler. They can sign up for the sessions as needed, but are encouraged to have one per day, six days a week.


Dual Enrollment is available for students who wish to study both piano and voice. Students studying both piano and voice will need to attend lessons for each instrument separately. When we study piano, we naturally learn a little voice, but not vocal technique and vocal repertoire. When we study voice, we naturally learn a little piano, but not piano technique and piano repertoire. Therefore, each instrument needs its own lesson time.

 

Lesson Availability

Types of Students:  All ages and levels may apply. New students may start at any time of the year.


Timing:  Lessons are available between 2 and 6 pm, Monday through Thursday. Other hours are office hours for the teacher to complete work on behalf of the students, and to engage in professional music obligations.


Calendar:  The lesson calendar runs from mid-August through June of each year, with vacations for holidays. For the most part, but not entirely, the calendar synchronizes with the school calendar for the San Angelo Independent School District (ISD) in Texas. If you are planning family vacations, plan to attend lessons online while you are away, and consult with the teacher about how best to do this.


Practice

Several short periods of practice a day are recommended rather than one long period. Each student should review their lesson video or recording at least once before the next lesson. By doing so, the student will hear the results of constructive teacher comments. Continual practice is necessary for full benefit of lessons. Students with disciplined and organized regular practice sessions make the most progress. Occasionally, circumstances will arise where a student will be unable to practice as much as usual, and in this case the next lesson will be a supervised practice session, not a missed lesson.

 

Benefits of Music Study

Not all students who take music lessons will develop into high-level soloists. However, many of them will find that as a result of this training they will be able to exhibit much more musical self-confidence. Many former students have found that this background has made them influential members in choirs, community ensembles, and musical theater organizations. In all cases, students have gained a much deeper appreciation for all types of music, enjoyment in being able to play and sing for fun and relaxation, and an ability to understand and enjoy music on a deep level. They have also developed a much better speaking presence and self-confidence when performing in front of audiences and giving presentations to groups.

These self-presentation skills are useful in whatever career a student chooses. Music study also builds problem-solving and analytical skills that are valued in medical and technical fields. Music study is an especially good tool for teaching core values of honesty, integrity, teamwork, pride in a job well done, and desire to share with others. Ultimately, of course, the real reason we study music is because it brings joy into our lives.  Playing Happy Birthday for a loved one, singing or playing piano to relax after a long and tiring day, making friends in a chorus or theater production, passing on the gift of music to children and grandchildren — these are the most rewarding benefits of music study.

 

Payments

Payments for tuition are due on the 1st of the month. Lesson tuition is charged annually, but is allowed to be made in nine (9) monthly installments, if the family 1) pays one month of tuition in advance (hereafter called “tuition deposit”) and 2) pays an annual accounting fee of $52. 

Note: If a family pays the annual tuition in full at the beginning of the year, or the pro-rated amount for students who have begun part-way through the year, then there is a discount, no accounting fee, and no tuition deposit. There are similar benefits for paying per semester.

 

Forms of Payment

Families who pay monthly or semi-annually must pay by Automatic Bank Transfers or Automatic Bank Checks. This method is often called "bill pay" at banks. It is convenient for families and, because the payment always arrives on time, it avoids late fees.

Families who wish to pay in one lump, in order to receive the discount, may pay by cash, check, PayPal or similar, or by automatic bank transfers or checks. 


 

Late Fees

A late fee of $10/week will be applied if monthly tuition is paid after the 5th of the month. Tuition is due on the 1st, and there is a 4-day grace period.

 

Other Fees

There are annual fees charged each year. These are due at the beginning of the school year.

Note: If the family is paying monthly, the tuition deposit and the accounting fee are also due at the beginning of the school year.

 

Fees for the 2019-2020 school year are as follows.
 

$35 Registration
$12 Student Affiliate Membership in the Texas Music Teachers Association (TMTA) 
$67.50 Technology and Copyrighted-Materials Usage

 

Tuition

Tuition is calculated by multiplying the lesson cost ($37 per 30-minute lesson for the 2019-2020 school year) by the number of lessons in the term.
 

Note:  If the family chooses to pay monthly, they will pay the same amount every month. This is true for both short months and long months, because the payments are installment payments.

There is an annual cost-of-living adjustment to tuition that occurs each year in July. The teacher reserves the right to change prices at any time if economic circumstances dictate.

 

Discounts for Household Members:  After the first student in a family is enrolled, additional students in the household (including adults and children) will receive 10% off tuition. Regarding annual fees, only one accounting fee and one registration fee will be charged per family. Technology fees apply for each student.

 

Discounts for Dual Enrollment:  Students who wish to study both piano and voice will attend lessons for each separately, and pay tuition for each instrument. They will receive 20% off of their combined tuition. Regarding annual fees, only one accounting fee and one registration fee will be charged for the student taking lessons in both piano and voice. Technology fees apply for each instrument.

Discounts for Annual and Semi-Annual Payment:  An additional monetary discount will be given to those who pay tuition as a lump sum either annually or twice a year. Please discuss this option with the teacher. In addition, annual accounting fees and the tuition deposit requirement are waived for those paying annually. For those who are paying semi-annually, the fees are pro-rated with the first payment, and then credited toward the second payment.


New Students Starting Mid-Year:  Tuition will be pro-rated for students who start mid-year.  This means that the standard lesson rate will be used in calculating the students’ tuition for the remaining term.


Music Purchases

The cost of books, materials, equipment, software, and supplies is not included in tuition. The teacher will provide information about where and how to purchase the needed items. To keep costs low, the teacher carefully evaluates what is best and needed in each student’s situation. 


The most expensive purchases are a laptop computer and an acoustic piano. Regarding the acoustic piano, it is recommended to buy a used one that can be fixed up by a qualified piano technician. The teacher can suggest where to look for used pianos, and give much-needed advice on how to avoid buying a bad one. 
 

Laptop Computer: For the most effective lessons, we need a device that is portable and has a large screen. A laptop computer is recommended because it can be placed in various locations around the piano. The screens are larger on laptops than on other devices, and therefore the student will be able to see clearly the materials the teacher will share onscreen. Furthermore, Zoom and other online teaching platforms are easier to use on laptops than on other devices, with more screen controls available to the user.
 
Piano Students: An acoustic piano, adjustable seating, and a footstool of the right height are a must. These three things are needed for steady progress. Time and again, we have seen students fail to progress simply from being unable to play comfortably and with natural motions, simply because the bench was too low for the arms and the feet were unsupported. There is also a health reason, because proper seat height and footstool height are necessary for avoiding carpal tunnel syndrome, trigger thumb, tennis elbow, and backache — all of which can develop from playing with too low a seat and no foot support.
 
Many years of experience have also shown that students need an acoustic piano in good working order, and properly tuned, in order to progress. Although we wish it were not so, electric pianos are not yet able to replace acoustic pianos, and an acoustic piano is necessary in order to develop the ability to play naturally and beautifully.
 
Piano students will have two months to find or buy the proper equipment, including acoustic piano, adjustable bench or chair, and adjustable footrest. The teacher will recommend where to find these items and what to look for.

 
Voice Students: In addition to a laptop and acoustic piano, voice students will also need a MIDI keyboard and a special microphone that plugs into the computer, in order to have online lessons. Please wait for the teacher’s recommendation before buying the keyboard or microphone. An acoustic piano is strongly recommended for practice sessions, because keyboards do not develop the ear and intonation and may slow progress.

 

Missed Lessons and Cancellations

There is no refund or make-up for missed lessons and cancellations. However, when possible, extra time will be added to lessons. Every lesson is important to the student’s progress, so students should do their best not to miss any lessons.

 

Rescheduling Lessons

If a family knows far in advance that a lesson will be missed, it may be possible to reschedule the lesson. However, this is not guaranteed and is at the discretion of the teacher.

 

Lengthy Absences

If the student will be absent for 2 weeks or more, and gives notice at least one month in advance, then the teacher will adjust tuition. If the families are paying monthly, they cannot adjust tuition on their own because the monthly payments are installment payments, not per-service.

 

Termination

If the student will be terminating lessons, one month’s notice is standard. Earlier notice is appreciated. 
 

Monthly Payers:  If at least one month’s notice is given, and the family is paying in monthly installments, then the tuition deposit will be used to replace the last month’s installment payment. If, however, one month’s notice is not given, then the tuition deposit will be forfeit.  Note:  Late fees, annual fees, and any costs of books, materials, entrance fees, recital fees, etc., are non-refundable.
 
Annual and Semi-Annual Payers:  If at least one month’s notice is given, and the family is paying annually or semi-annually, then all tuition money (but not fees) for the unused balance of the school year will be refunded. Example: If a family gives notice in February that it will be moving and ending lessons at the end of March, then the tuition money that was paid for April and forward will be refunded. If, however, one month’s notice is not given, then one month’s tuition will be forfeit, and the rest will be refunded.  Note:  Late fees, annual fees, and any costs of books, materials, entrance fees, recital fees, etc., are non-refundable.

Dissatisfaction

If at any time you are dissatisfied with lessons, policies, or the progress of your student, please speak frankly and in private to the teacher (not in front of the student, for the student's sake). She will listen carefully and take measures to improve the situation. Communication that is honest and sincere is important at all times in a teacher-student-parent team.
 

Goals and Teamwork

It is important that each member of the team, parent, teacher, and student, work toward shared goals, which are shared in the table below. These are our official goals, which support the standards approved by the National Core Arts Standards for Music Education (NCAS). The student may have additional goals, such as being able to participate in community or school music groups, or community or school theater productions. The parent and teacher should work to support these goals as well.
 

Personal and social
well-being
Functional music
listening and analysis
Technical facility
in the instrument

 
 Students should work toward

 

 • Social connection through ensemble work and collaborative skills.
 
 • Personal connection between music, emotions, meaning, and context.
 
 • Problem solving.

 • Mastery of a complex skill.

 • Self-discipline.

 • Patience.

 • Calm in dealing with mistakes.

 • Public-speaking and self-presentation skills.

 

 Students should work toward
 

 • Critical listening skill in deciphering styles, origins, and component parts of music.

 • Ear-training for decoding music and playing by ear.

 • Reading music notation.
 
 • Writing music and lyrics.
 
 • Internalization of melody and rhythm through singing and physical movement.

 
Students should work toward


 • Ergonomics:

Healthy and natural movement (piano).

Healthy and natural production of sound (voice).

 
 • Technique:

Dexterity, coordination, and
finger articulation (piano).

Agility, ease, and diction (voice).

 • Long-term study skills:
Efficiency and efficacy of practice time.

 
 • Experience with a variety of repertoire, improvisation, and composition activities.