How long are lessons?Most lessons are 40 minutes long, longer than a standard 30 minute lesson because there are so many musicianship skills like ear training and improvising to fit in!
Students who are studying at a conservatory grade 5 level or higher are encouraged to have a 55 minute lesson, particularly if they intend to take written theory examinations. Preparation for theory exams is included in this lesson time.
What ages and levels do you teach?
Can you teach me to play jazz?
Kind of. Not as well as I can teach classical, but I have successfully prepped students for a Conservatory Canada Contemporary Idioms Grade 6 exam. This is an alternate stream of examinations where students are expected to be able to play from a lead sheet (melody and chords, but not everything written out) and improvise as part of their exam. I do play a lot of chord charts and lead sheets and do plenty of improvising, which are foundational skills for playing jazz, but I mostly play contemporary Christian worship music and pop music this way and not as much jazz. I like it and can teach it up to a point, but if you're looking for advanced jazz teacher, I'm afraid you'll need to keep looking.
What times do you have available?
What happens if I can't make my lesson time?Rescheduled or makeup lessons will be offered only for the student’s illness, winter snowstorms, or deaths in the family as long as I am notified prior to the beginning of the lesson time. You are responsible to book a makeup lesson during available lesson times or scheduled makeup lesson days (see the Calendar), and if you do not do so by the end of the school year, you forfeit your lesson time. I may cancel one lesson during the year for illness without penalty or makeup lesson, but if I need to cancel any additional lessons, you will be given the option of either a makeup lesson or a pro-rated individual lesson refund.
I have a keyboard. Will that be okay for practicing on?That depends. Does it have 88 keys? Does it have a pedal? Can you play loud and soft depending on how hard you play it? Are the keys weighted or feel heavy? If the answer to all of these is yes, then odds are good that I would consider it a digital piano and an instrument rather than a toy. Anything less is a keyboard-shaped toy, and while fun to play with, is not adequate for private piano lessons. If you're looking for a general rule of thumb, your instrument should be worth at least as much as a year's worth of lessons!
While a digital piano will do the job, I will almost always vote for an acoustic piano over a digital! They sound better, they are more responsive to how you play it, and students do make better progress with a better instrument. I know they aren't as portable and you can't use headphones (unless you spring for a Yamaha Silent Piano) and they need to be tuned, but even my youngest students can tell you that it's easier to play on my acoustic upright grand than on my digital piano. Please consider a used acoustic and remember that acoustic pianos retain their value much better than digitals should you ever need to sell it. Then you also don't need to worry about upgrading once you start getting up into grade levels where you really should have an acoustic instrument. Used pianos are like used cars, though, so the older it is, the more likely it needs more maintenance than just a tuning.
Who do you recommend for tuning my piano?
Bruce Bischoff with Piano Action is excellent, though you'll need to book him well in advance!
How much do I have to practice?How good do you want to get, and how fast do you want to get that good? Generally speaking, the more you practice, the faster you will learn! Research has found that on average, it takes about 450 hours of practice to finish Grade 1 (since there are usually a couple years of prep before that) and 3,300 hours of practice to reach the equivalent of a Royal Conservatory Grade 10. It's for good reason that you can get high school credit in Alberta for completing your Grade 6, 7, and 8 exams, because there's a lot of hours invested in learning it!
I expect my students to regularly practice five days a week, so with your lesson day, you can take one day off a week. I consider it to be a reasonable expectation for good progress to practice 15-20 minutes a day in early elementary (perhaps split into two mini-practice sessions for those squirmy
little ones!), 30 minutes a day for late elementary, 45 minutes a day for junior high, and 60 minutes a day for high school. More is better!
How much do lessons cost?There are two different rates depending on your lesson day, since Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday lessons get 36 lessons through the school year while Monday and Friday lessons only get 32 lessons since they get most of the holidays and PD days.
||Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday
36 lessons/year plus recitals
32 lessons/year plus recitals
|40 minute lesson
|55 minute lesson
, or even cash. Invoices will be sent out 10 days prior to the first day of each month with reminders on the first day of the month. Payments that have not been received by 9:00 am on the third day of each month will be subject to a $10 late fee per student.
What is included in that cost? Is there anything else I'll need to pay for?Your monthly fee includes: Your monthly fees do not include:
Do I have to sign up for the whole year?
What if I'm signing up in the middle of the year?In that case, I would add up however many lessons are left in the remainder of the year and adjust your first month's payment so that you pay for the correct number of lessons over what is left in the year. Each month following will be at the usual monthly rate.
Do you teach in the summer?I try not to! Adult students or advanced students preparing for August exams may continue lessons throughout the summer on a per-lesson basis with as much flexibility as needed to accommodate holiday plans for everyone.
Do I have to play in recitals or take exams?I expect my students to play in recitals, but it is not mandatory. Missing a recital is like missing a lesson, though, since there is a lot to be learned from preparing and performing and hearing everyone else play! Memorization is encouraged but not required. I have two studio recitals in January and June. Dates, times, and places will be announced well in advance, but are usually held Sunday afternoons at Grant
Alberta College campus. There is also the duet recital in March, held on a Saturday at Southgate Alliance Church. You'll be practicing your duet with your partner (often me) ahead of time, and then there is one rehearsal the day beforehand to gather all 10 performers together.
Students are also encouraged to participate in examinations with The Royal Conservatory or Conservatory Canada and in music festivals with the Kiwanis Music Festival or Contemporary Showcase. You will be reminded of dates as they come near, but it is your responsibility to register. The more advanced you get, the more I will encourage all of them, but first year beginning students usually don't. For exams, I generally recommend that students take a couple of the Grades 1-3 exams, but every one isn't necessary. We'll cover all the requirements in lessons even without the exam at the end. Once you hit about Grade 4-5, you should plan on doing each exam, as much for the goal and motivation as for getting an evaluation from an outside perspective.
Are lessons any fun?I sure hope so! We rotate through different musicianship skills each week so that there's always something a little new. While I will get my students to play tricky passages until it's easy (or at least easier!) like a personal trainer asking for just one more pushup, I try to keep everything lighthearted with laughter. We'll play rhythms on cups, play hand drums, play duets, and occasionally play music games on the iPad. We'll use dice and popsicle sticks and spinners to keep practicing random and fun. I have an incentive program where students can earn badges based on their accomplishments and use the points from those to earn prizes from my treasure box. I also have studio-wide short-term challenges to help keep students actively engaged.