Piano Lessons FAQs
This page has a lot of information because parents and students often have many questions, all similar in nature. I hope this helps you understand the policies of my studio clearly. If not, please feel free to email or call. You can find detailed information about prices on the “payments” tab. Mobile phone users should hit the little arrow button next to "Piano Lessons" to see all the tabs
How do I narrow down teachers? How does this work?
- First, you need to have an idea of why you are taking lessons, and what kind of lessons you want. If, for instance, you only want to play pop music, taking lessons with a classical teacher may not be right for you. Do you want opportunities to perform? Do you only care about price? Once you have some general ideas, start looking for teachers that match your priorities.
- Second, to know all about me and my studio, please read through my website. It will give you a very good idea of what kind of teacher I am, what my policies are, and, most importantly, what I emphasize in my teaching (see “Teaching Philosophy” tab).
- Third, check my location. (708 Harvard Lane, Newark, DE 19711.) I am in the heart of Newark. Make sure that you are willing to make the drive at the time of day you are available for lessons. Experience has taught me that worn-down parents are not as enthusiastic about driving 25+ minutes after a few months of lessons. Piano lessons are ideally a long-term relationship. Be okay with your drive time for the potential long-term.
- Then, if you think you would fit well in my studio, please contact me! We can discuss time slots and an interview. But please read through the website information first so I know you are in full agreement with my policies. It saves us both precious time and frustration. Interviews are $30. If we both decide to continue with lessons, the fee goes toward your first month. If I decide I'm not the right teacher for you, the interview is free.
- If my studio is full, you may be able to get on my wait list. People usually stop lessons suddenly for health or employment reasons. Sometimes what might be a full studio one week has two openings the next. But sometimes my waitlist is long enough that I stop adding to it for a while. Click here to see my waitlist status.
What lesson length do I need?
- Lessons are 30 minutes for beginning 5, 6, and 7-year olds. Transfer students of those ages may need 45-minute lessons to give enough time to correct poor technique. Gifted or motivated young children may also need more time to help them progress as quickly as they are able.
- All others take 45 or 60-minute lessons, depending on experience and goals. I realize that other teachers may offer 30-minute lessons to older students. I’ve taught for over 20 years and no longer offer short lessons for anyone other than very small children. The parents of my students pay me good money to help their children progress rapidly and with precision and technical skill. It is simply too rushed in 30 minutes.
Do you take children under 5 years?
- I may be willing to take 4-year-olds of particular disposition with a parent who is willing to sit in on lessons and help at every home practicing session. Please email or call for an interview.
- 3-year-old students should consider looking into the Suzuki Method. They begin by teaching by ear and do start children as young as 3. I would do a Google search for Suzuki Method teachers in your area.
- No, the demand for good teachers is high enough that I don’t have the time to teach free lessons. If you sign up for lessons with me, you can consider the first month a trial month. You can quit at any point and I’ll refund any lessons not taken. After the trial month I do ask for 2-weeks’ notice (see payment page).
What do I need for piano lessons?
- Surprise! You need a piano or daily access to one for practicing.
- If you have a keyboard, the keys should be weighted (best is "graded hammer action") or in the very least, “touch sensitive.” If your keyboard is not full-size (88-keys) then it almost certainly is not weighted. If the keys pop up fast like an organ, they are not “touch sensitive,” either (touch sensitive is slightly above a plain keyboard, but well-below weighted and graded action). If you are only “trying out” piano, the “touch sensitive” or pop-up keys are okay to start. Technical skill is learned through muscle practice. You have to form those muscles for classical playing through the touch on your home piano. It is silly to pay for piano lessons and then learn poorly because of the practice instrument. You can rent real pianos, buy decent weighted keyboards for $500-700, or buy real pianos for a similar amount. I recommend Jacob’s Music in Wilmington to start your hunt. If you want to buy a used piano from somewhere like Craigslist, get it checked out by a reliable technician/tuner for a fee. Philip Woodworth is my tuner/technician. There are wonderful deals out there and there are wonderful duds that will cost you more to keep tuned than it did to buy it. Nearly always "free" pianos aren't worth the cost to move it home, despite what it might look like on the outside.
- A metronome. This is something that helps keep a steady beat. You’ll need it by about 3-6 months into lessons. They cost around $20 and you can get them at any music store or online. Get a simple model, nothing fancy. You can also download apps for phones, iPads, etc, though they aren’t as good and I've noticed students tend not to use them if they have to seek out a parent's phone each time.
- Books. Each student will have a different requirement for books. These usually cost around $20 to start, and then $20 every 6 months thereafter, depending on progress. I also loan out as many books as I can. If book cost is a hardship for you, let me know. Sometimes we can get these used.
- A three-ring hard-backed binder with pockets. I provide the papers.
How much should I practice?
- Generally, average beginning students under age 7 will spend 15-20 minutes a day, 5 or 6 days a week. The more experienced you become, the more you need to practice. Middle school and high school students should be at 45 minutes or more each day. Adults usually should be around 30 minutes or more, depending on your goals for progression. There are prizes and incentives for children to reach practicing goals. I am a mother myself. I understand that there are some weeks with “not-so-good” practicing. Please tell me if the family life that week was the cause of poor practicing. I never get upset with children for not practicing, but I do push them and hold them accountable!
- Of course, if you want to be very serious with music, even very small children can practice an hour a day, increasing up to several hours by the end of elementary school. This is not to be forced on little ones, but only encouraged if they love piano and are begging for more!
- I do a yearly studio recital each year. No one has to play in a recital; however, students progress fastest when they have opportunities to perform. It is a low-stress event and most students really have fun doing it.
- I participate in various student festivals throughout the year—these include competitive and non-competitive events. Usually, I do one in the fall, and two in the spring. These are optional, but beneficial and fun to anyone participating. See my “Events” tab for this year’s upcoming performance opportunities.
- The Delaware Music Teachers Association does quarterly recitals, as well. I enter any willing students into one or two of these a year.
What happens if I can’t make a lesson?
- I will do a make-up lesson for those missed due to sickness (many teachers will not!), emergencies, and inclement weather only. If the student has had a fever or been vomiting within 24 hours of his lesson, please call or email to reschedule as soon as you can! I’m okay with students with minor colds, but if you are really sick, please stay home and get better. Since Covid, I do ask students who have an active cold to wear a mask (I provide if you don't have one). And I might mask-up, too. I'm not paranoid, but prefer being well to getting a cold.
- It is your job to arrange make-up lessons which are owed to you. Make-ups must be rescheduled within one month or are forfeited.
- If something comes up during your normal lesson time that you want to do (take a trip, go out of town, etc), it will be your job to call one of the other students to “swap” lesson times. I’ll give you phone numbers and times of the other students. This gives you the freedom to switch at the last minute without losing the money.
- All students can use Zoom at any point, for any reason, with just a moment's notice. This is a new and easy way to deal with situations where a parent can't drive a child to a lesson that week, or timing is tight.
- We will do a virtual lesson on Zoom if you don't feel like you can drive here! If the power is out and it is unsafe to drive, then of course we will reschedule.
Oops. I forgot my lesson. Now what?
- Sorry, I don’t reschedule or credit for forgotten lessons. I am here waiting, regardless of what you are doing! I will text or email if you haven't shown up or texted with in five minutes of the lesson start. We can always jump on Zoom if you are still at home and available.
- You will not receive credit for vacations during the school year. I cannot fill your slot for the week you are gone; no one takes single piano lessons. Use the swap sheet if you are able. Alternatively, we can use Zoom to do a Theory or Aural training lesson from wherever you are, even without a piano. I've now taught lessons as far away as India, and even to RV campers travelling the country!
- If you decide you need to take time off of lessons, I cannot hold your slot. You can have first priority on the wait list, however. If you want to pay for the time off, you can keep your slot. : )
- Parents without other children find it easiest to do errands or wait in the car (mostly because their children don’t like them to be in lessons with them). I have a nice studio with a couch, however, so if your child is fine with you being in the room, feel free to sit in on lessons. Very young children’s parents should always sit in.
- If you have other children and would like to come in, please feel free! I have a family-friendly studio with a few toys and quiet activities by the couch. If it is cold outside, I wouldn’t want to be waiting in a car, entertaining 3 children while an older one took lessons! Some families just have a sibling play iPad or do homework on the studio couch. My youngest daughter is ten (as of 2023) and often around and LOVES to play with student siblings. We have a basement with lots of toys! BUT PLEASE, do not bring sick siblings in to play or even to just sit if coughing/mucusy/or feverish. And please do not bring any food inside except water. Stay with playing toddlers. You are most welcome on the playset/yard outside at your own risk. Remember to have your kids help clean up a few minutes before the lesson is scheduled to end.
Should I knock for my lesson?
- Please do NOT knock for your lesson. Quietly walk in, take off your shoes (if you are a child), and wait on the couch until I’m finished with the previous student. This is a good time to wash hands if you came right from school or eating a snack! Or, you may wait on the patio. Many students feel uncomfortable walking right in. It actually disturbs the lesson right before you if you knock and make me get up to answer.
- If you are earlier than 3 minutes for your lesson, please remain in your car or on the patio. Everyone is paying for private lessons and having people watch can make students nervous. But please come in if it is your time or a few minutes before. Sometimes I may not see you sitting in your car so I continue teaching the last student extra. Sometimes I’m just chatting with the leaving student.
- You may always use your lesson time for speaking with me. If you wish to speak to me outside of lesson time, please email to see if I am available before or after. If you know a student is usually after you, please quickly gather your things afterward (or parents and siblings can gather things early) so that the transition is as fast as possible.