The Small but Important Things that Keep my Studio Running Happily!!
My teaching day is divided into two sections - Casual: Monday to Friday - approx. 10.30am - 2pm
and Permanent: Monday to Friday -
approx. 2.30pm - 7.30pm and all day Saturday.
These work as follows:
Casual: Monday to Friday - approx. 10.30am till 2pm
Casual places are limited but available to everyone. Each week I make a limited number of places available, depending on personal and writing commitments. A place can be secured by emailing me when you want a lesson and I will email you back with a list of available times for that week. Although I don’t take bookings more than a week ahead, those who want a regular weekly lesson can usually still manage to have one by booking that place again for the following week.
I find that this works well for most adults, who usually have busy lives and not necessarily time to practice for a lesson every week. In this way, you can set up a lesson when you are ready for it and not be pressured to meet that commitment every week.
It works for me because lessons are only booked when they are really wanted and I don’t have the problem of last minute cancellations, which I find very hard to deal with, not only because they mess up my day but because someone else has missed the opportunity to have that lesson time. Please only book a place if you are absolutely sure that you are going to be able to attend.
The downside is that places are only available during the working day so that people working full time will need to arrange to take their lunch hour or other time off to attend a lesson.
These lessons can be paid for either in cash on the day or by direct bank transfer at the time of booking and a receipt emailed to me at that time.
Permanent: Monday to Friday
approx. 2.30pm till 7.30pm and all day Saturday
Permanent places are managed very differently to casual places and are usually allocated to children, outside of school hours. When you have secured a permanent place for your child, that time is reserved, every week all through the year, just for you. The place is held through advance payment of fees, usually billed every 10 weeks. Any absence is the responsibility of the student/parent and will not be refunded or rescheduled, however it may be possible to have the lesson made up during the week of the absence if a suitable cancellation occurs within that week. More on this in the ‘Cancellation’ section below. Any cancellations I make to lessons will be credited in the following block of lessons. Public holidays are not normally included in the billing period.
Other General Studio Guidelines
As above, fees are usually billed every 10 weeks throughout the calendar year - not the school year. This is essential to hold your place. If you choose to go away on holidays your fees must continue to be paid or the place will be given to someone else. Exceptions may be made for established students taking occasional holidays where adequate notice is given. Public holidays are not normally included in the billing period but may be arranged if both parties are agreeable. Payment may be made through direct bank transfer, the details of which will be on the account.
Parking and Safety
My driveway is a shared accessway and must not be blocked under any circumstance. In addition, the
front yard of my property is shared by a multitude of animals and small children. Traffic in these
circumstances is unwelcome. Unless you have a physical disability, please park on the street, leaving
the laneway clear, and walk down.
Please be aware that for safety reasons, I can't let young children go unattended to find their parents at the end of the lesson. Young children must remain in the studio until their parents come to collect them and after dark I also expect older children to be personally collected by a parent.
Who can sit in on the lessons?
Families are welcome in my studio. I have plenty of puzzles and games for young children to play as well as books for adults and children and drawing and craft facilities. It’s important that the child who is having the lesson is able to focus without interruption and distraction so please guide your other children to play quietly and communicate in a whisper. Mobile phones and electronic devices should be placed on silent and if you need to take or make a telephone call, please do so outside and away from the studio doors. Children (students or siblings) should not bring electronic devices into the studio for play/entertainment purposes as they work directly against the ethos of my teaching practice.
Parents of young children are particularly encouraged to attend their child’s lessons. In this way you may understand my methods of teaching your child and follow up on the lesson at home in a similar manner.
The building of self-esteem in the child is of utmost importance in the development of a well-rounded and confident musician and parents are encouraged to support this philosophy during practice time at home by limiting criticisms that are not constructive and reinforcing, through encouragement, positive
behaviours and outcomes. Questions and concerns are welcomed.
Teens often interact more comfortably and freely without the presence of parents or other family members in the room. If I feel this is the case, I will discuss it with the parent.
I try to give each of my students as well rounded a musical education as possible within the limited time at our disposal. Consequently I may overlap 10 minutes of one student’s lesson with 10 minutes of another’s so that both can have a solid 20 minutes of aural work or work on a duet together.
In a similar fashion, one student may be working on composition on the computer or synthesiser while another student is having a piano lesson. In these situations it is particularly important that the parents and siblings of the composing student respect the scheduled lesson time of the other and take themselves out of the room if their presence seems to be distracting.
Online lessons are available both as a regular lesson setup and for occasional lessons when face to face lessons are not possible or advisable. Such situations may include illness, where the student is potentially contagious and should not attend the studio but is well enough to have the lesson online from home. In addition, if I am away for an extended period of time, I will usually arrange online lessons with my regular students.
Students are expected to maintain a regular practice schedule. This is not intended to be excessive or
laborious but simply regular i.e.: most days and in accordance with the lesson for that week. I usually write detailed practice notes into the student's notebook, which they are expected to work through in their daily practice sessions. The material will have already been covered in the lesson and is simply being reinforced and built upon during the daily practice sessions so that the student is ready for new material in the next lesson.
Parents can support their child’s practice by helping to establish a regular routine and actively enjoying listening to their child play. Practice which is done on an electronic instrument with headphones or with the volume turned down low is lonely for the child, as is a piano closed away in another room or in another part of the house. For musicianship to develop, the child must be heard and must be comfortable hearing her/himself play.
When students don’t practice, they don’t progress and this leads to boredom both for the student and for me. The outcome is rarely successful and if I feel that a pointless situation is developing, I may recommend that lessons be stopped until the student or family has more time to commit.
There is a wide range of options available now for students wanting to learn piano. For those with serious performance aspirations, I would recommend an acoustic piano ahead of a digital piano and am happy to discuss recommendations. Digital pianos are more convenient for many families and often more appropriate for the type of the music the student wants to make or create. As always, some instruments are better or worse than others - at the very least, please ensure that the digital piano you choose has a full-size keyboard (88 keys), has fully weighted keys and is touch sensitive. It also needs to have a fixed sustaining pedal.
Punctuality is essential – If a student is late, it is not possible for the lesson to run over into another student’s time. If a parent wishes to discuss their child's progress then this should be done at the beginning of the student's lesson or over the telephone at another time. If appropriate, a meeting time can be arranged. Much as I love to have a chat with parents, it's not fair on the following student and their family if their lesson runs late, plus this also impacts on all the following students, with those lessons likewise running late.
Please also be aware that I will usually not wind up a lesson until the next student arrives, so it is the parent's responsiblity to have the student at the lesson on time to receive the full value of the lesson.
Food and Drinks
Food and drinks are not welcome in my studio. The ambience of my teaching space is sacred to me - warm lighting, a relaxed atmosphere and candles with essential oils provide a nurturing environment for my students and a beautiful place for all of us to work and relax. Food and drinks have no place in this environment.
Students will be asked to remove their shoes before entering the studio but may not arrive in bare feet. Students arriving in bare feet will be offered clean footwear before entering.
Everyone entering the studio is expected to wash and dry their hands thoroughly prior to the lesson. In addition, students will be asked to again wash their hands after blowing their nose, sneezing, or touching their face.
Coughs and colds are a normal part of life and I don’t expect students to be kept at home if these are mild but please use common sense. If your child is coughing and spluttering continuously and swiping at his or her nose with the back of the hand, it will be extremely difficult, if not impossible for him or her to concentrate and my own attention is going to be focused far more on the problems of maintaining hygiene than with the actual lesson. And of course, more serious illness and in particular, contagious illness, should not be brought into the studio as it puts me and other students at risk.
*** COVID-19 UPDATE: Students with coughs and colds should be kept at home and an online lesson arranged in place of the face to face lesson. Similarly if your child has any kind of fever or raised temperature, please do not send them into the studio. Some of my family members are immuno-compromised, as are some of my students' family members ... which makes any illness a potentially life and death situation for those people and just not worth the risk!
As a courtesy, both to me and to other students and parents, please let me know as soon as possible
if you need to cancel a lesson. This means that someone else, in a similar position, may be able to
use that time. If all cancellations happened this way, then everyone would have the opportunity
to have a ‘make up’ lesson.
Regular recitals are organised for students throughout the school year as well as a concert for family and friends at the end of the year. These concerts and recitals are for the benefit and development of the students and it is expected that students will make every effort to attend and that families will support and encourage their attendance. Failure to do so results in a poorer learning experience for the student.
Resources and Communication
A comprehensive student area is located in a non-public area of this website.
All students are expected to register for and make use of this area which provides up to date information
as well as a range of resources for students across all levels. A message board is provided for students
to communicate with me and with each other.
Exams, Competitions and Eisteddfods
Students may not enter examinations, competitions, eisteddfods and the like using my name as teacher
without my consent. In addition, students may not enter any of these independently under their own or
a parent’s name without prior discussion with and agreement from me.
Student gatherings held in my studio are informal. There are no dress requirements or even performance requirements. Students are encouraged to play for one another to share the music that they enjoy playing and to become comfortable doing so. Parents are not in attendance at these events which minimises the pressure on the students.
More formal recitals such as the Student Forums, the Annual Christmas Concert, Examinations, Competitions and Eisteddfods require neat formal or semi-formal dress, depending on the particular event. Shoes should be appropriate for pedalling - not trainers. Bowing after a performance and sometimes before may also be appropriate. If you are unsure, discuss this with me.
Copyright and Sharing
Music that I may provide to students may not be photocopied or recorded or provided to anyone else. This is a breach of copyright and a serious offence. Such music is on loan and should be returned when it is no longer being used. Similarly, all of the resource material provided for students on my website is solely for the use of my students and may not be shared or redistributed in any way.
Filming and Photography
If a student is performing one of my works particularly well, I may ask for permission to film a
performance of the music for YouTube. No filming will take place without permission from both the
student and parent and the recording will not be uploaded to YouTube or any other network without
the signed consent of the parent/guardian.
During concerts and recitals, I'm happy for parents to record or photograph their children's performance provided it is not going to impact negatively on the performance, for example by making the child overly aware or self conscious and nervous or uncomfortable; however for privacy and copyright reasons please do not film any other performances than those of your own children. In some situations, even recording your own children will not be permitted: This is generally due to copyright or performing right issues so please be aware and respectful of this. Our annual Christmas concert is professionally filmed and students and parents have the opportunity of receiving a copy of their or their child's performance.
Filming of your child's lessons is not permitted.
I've occasionally become aware of parents secretly filming their child's lessons on their smartphones. While I understand the desire to follow through on the lesson plan at home, it isn't necessary to
replicate the lesson and doesn't allow the child freedom to express themselves according to their interpretation of the lesson. It also opens up all sorts of legal issues pertaining to copyright,
performing right and personal privacy. If you feel the need to have a particular aspect of your
child's lesson recorded, please discuss this with me - I'm generally pretty amenable and will do my
best to assist with whatever works in the learning process, but please be respectful and do not
make recordings without my permission. A violation of this policy will mean that the parent is no
longer welcome in the studio and may result in termination of the student's lessons.