How do lessons work?

For school-aged students, lessons take place on a weekly basis (with breaks for holidays) at a consistent time, Tuesdays through Fridays. During the summer, scheduling is more flexible, but lessons are required to hold a place in the fall schedule. With adult students I am more flexible about scheduling, especially with those who can come during the day. I offer 30-minute, 45-minute, and 60-minute time slots, but recommend 45 minutes or more except in very young children.

What is unique about lessons here? What styles do you teach?

I am enthusiastic and encouraging, tailoring lessons to each individual student and where they are in their own learning. My well-rounded approach includes a mix of styles, emphasizing creativity, composition, and improvisation in addition to building skills in reading music. We do fun studio challenges, group lessons, and I use many tools and games to help reinforce learning musical skills in different contexts. I believe in empowering students to play music they really enjoy.

Do you offer group lessons?

Yes! Group lessons are offered at least a few times per year on an optional basis (scheduled according to level and ability), and are included in tuition. We play music games to reinforce concepts, play duets/ensembles, or perform pieces for peers. They have been very popular!

At what age do you recommend beginning lessons?

I don’t judge readiness by age, but rather by development - that your child knows numbers 1-5 and letters A-G, and can sit and focus for at least 10 minutes at a time. Showing an interest in music and rhythm is also a great sign!

Do i have to know anything about music before starting lessons?

No, you can be a complete beginner - I enjoy teaching all levels of students, from beginning to advanced!

Do i need a piano right away? Is a keyboard acceptable?

Yes, you will need an instrument to practice regularly. I definitely recommend having a piano, but a keyboard can suffice, as long it has 88 weighted keys. You’ll notice that a keyboard feels different than playing a piano and doesn’t have the same range of sensitivity, limiting development of technique and expression. I am happy to assist if you are shopping for pianos.

How much will my child be expected to practice?

This varies by student, but a good guideline is to practice at least the length of the lesson (30 or 45 minutes) every day - practice is the single most important factor in making progress. Frequent practice is more effective than long, infrequent practice - if you only have time for 10 minutes of focused practice each day, that will yield more progress than 60 minutes once a week.

How can parents help with and motivate students to practice?

The best advice I can give is to schedule practice time and have it happen at the same time each day (such as after dinner), making it an expected part of the child’s routine.

Know that motivation will wax and wane, but consistency and encouragement will pay off! Kids age 7 and younger will need parental guidance to stay on task. I have many tools and tricks to help with this!

Should parents be present during the lesson? How much parental involvement is expected?

Parents are more than welcome to sit in on lessons, especially for kids age 7 and younger, since they will need more guidance during the week than older children.

Are performances, recitals, or contests required?

Recitals, held twice a year, are not required, although strongly recommended - usually almost everyone participates. I create an open, welcoming environment for performing and emphasize the joy of sharing music with others. There are other performance opportunities during the year, both through Chanson and through my affiliation with MMTA (MN Music Teachers Association). Opportunities for exams and contests are also available, although this is not a main focus in my studio.

How is tuition collected? How does monthly tuition work?

I send out invoices via email during the last week of each month, which are due at the first lesson of the month, and paid by check, cash, or credit card via Wave Accounting (payments handled through Stripe). A flat tuition rate is charged each month (during the school year), regardless of number of lessons in that month. This holds your slot in my schedule and reflects the fact that tuition goes toward many things, in addition to lesson time. Lessons for adults can be structured more loosely.

Where does my tuition go?

Besides time spent with students, tuition goes toward many things, including prep time, space rental for lessons and recitals, music selection, memberships to professional organizations, music research, continuing education, self-employment taxes, my education and experience, studio/office materials, and more!

Are there additional materials or costs i should expect?

At the beginning of each school year, I charge a $50 materials fee to cover purchase of books and supplemental materials for each student, but that’s it! Recitals and group lessons are both included in tuition.

How flexible are you with scheduling? Do you give make-up lessons if a student is absent?

Due to my busy schedule and having a shared studio space, I can’t guarantee make-up lessons when a student cancels. If I have another cancellation, I may offer that spot. If I have to cancel, I always make up the lesson.

Do you travel for in-home lessons?

No, I give all lessons at my studio space (Chanson Voice and Music Academy, 795 Raymond Avenue in St Paul), where I have access to all of my teaching resources. Having done both, I feel strongly that there are many more benefits to being in a dedicated teaching space, including increased focus and reduced distractions.

Do you offer trial lessons?

Yes, I do offer a trial lesson, so that you can try without committing to a whole month. After that initial lesson, monthly tuition is pro-rated if starting mid-month.