Welcome to the studio! Here are some policies that I would like to establish:
Please read this carefully – COVID-19 has brought many changes!
- Contact information: Please make sure that I have all necessary phone numbers and email addresses (including a way to reach you during the day in case of an emergency cancellation). This is also required for contact tracing purposes. If you need to speak to me directly, please try to contact me before 3pm or after 9pm - when I’m teaching, I want to focus on your kids! Texts, emails or Facebook Messenger are all good ways to reach me during teaching time.
- Payment: Please remember to pay at the beginning of the month for the whole month (unless you have made alternate arrangements). Lesson fees for 2020-2021 are $22/30 minute lesson, $33/45 minute lesson and $44/hour. Payments can be made by cash, cheque or bank transfer.
- Illness: There is no charge for a lesson missed due to illness. Please do not ask me to make the decision as to whether your child is well enough for a lesson. If I am asked to make the decision, I will now automatically say no. A good rule of thumb – if they are too sick for school, then they are too sick for piano. Any student showing any signs of illness will not be allowed into the studio. Students with mild symptoms (like a mild cold) may ask to do their lesson online until they are symptom-free. If ANYONE in your household/social bubble is showing signs of illness, you must cancel or ask for an online lesson.
- Other absences: All other absences require 24 hours’ notice in order to receive a lesson credit. Any lessons cancelled by me will receive a lesson credit.
- Parents in the building during lessons: No parents may wait in the building or attend the lesson until the COVID threat has passed. Exceptions will be for students age 6 and younger (and then it is only ONE parent in the room). This parent must also mask for the entire lesson and must follow the procedures outlined.
- Allergies: Please let me know if there are allergies that could be triggered in either lesson venue. This would include food allergies, pet allergies and floral/scent allergies. I cannot guarantee an allergy-free environment, but as long as I am aware, I can do my best to avoid them [for example: moving scented flowers left in the church after a special service].
- Forgotten books: Accidents happen but please do not expect me to teach with no books! Since there can be no shared materials in this COVID-19 time, if you forget your books, there will be no lesson.
- Assignment duotangs: These coloured folders are for practice notes for the week. Until COVID-19 is no longer a threat, I will continue to scan and email lesson notes which can then be printed and placed in the duotangs. Please make sure that you check your email for these notes!
- Finger nails: Long finger nails are pretty but they don’t do well at the piano! Please keep them trimmed so that the hands and fingers can stay in the proper position.
- Head lice: No one ever wants to think about this but, if you have them, I do need to know! I will not disclose names to other families but we all want to keep them from spreading!
- Quiz of the week (Prize day!): This popular incentive programme will be taking a break until COVID-19 restrictions are lifted (can’t have a communal prize box). Watch for a Fall Piano Challenge instead!
- Practice makes permanent!: It is really important to establish regular practice routines. Students should practise at least 5 out of 7 days a week. 7 out of 7 would be the ideal, but 5 out of 7 days are enough to ensure steady progress. Most students will need some form of parental involvement for practising, ranging from a reminder that it’s practice time to sitting in the room to make sure that they are reading their directions correctly. Older students will still need reminders occasionally! Here is a basic guideline of how much to practise at each level:
- Beginner (age 4-6): Play their pieces 5 times each session
- Beginner (age 6 and up): 15 to 30 minutes
- RCM Preparatory to Grade 2: 30-45 minutes
- RCM Levels 3-5: 45 minutes to 1 hour
- RCM Levels 6 and up: at least 1 hour
Obviously, this can differ from week to week. If you must miss a day, it is better to practise twice on the next day than to do one double-length session. These practice sessions can also be broken down into more manageable chunks – 10 minutes on scales/technique before school, 15 minutes before leaving for soccer/hockey/dance, etc. – as long as all of the material is covered.
Practising is more than just playing through the pieces once or twice – often, I ask that songs/pieces be broken down into smaller sections and worked on until they are “stumble-free” 5 times in a row. The comparison I use with students is that of the rough draft vs. good copy – if they are used to playing through, making a small mistake, correcting it then continuing to play, then this is the “rough draft” (with spelling mistakes crossed out and re-written). By working one line at a time, we are working on producing the “good copy” – something they can play from start to finish stumble-free. This system is far more efficient in the long run.
Students in the RCM grades should be practising their technique as well as their pieces. Technique is different scales and triads (chords). Without spending time on this, it will be challenging to progress to the next grade – no matter how many pieces they can play.
- Royal Conservatory of Music (RCM) exams: RCM Exams are scheduled 4 times a year: December/January, April (piano only), May/June and August. Exams are not mandatory to completing any level but they do provide a goal to be reached. RCM Examinations highly recommends that students take at least 2 exams before their Level 8 exam so that they are fully aware of the expectations in the exam setting. Students that are ready for an exam will receive a letter listing which exam(s), costs, and what is to be prepared for that exam. Exams have been held remotely using Zoom for the past 3 sessions and will likely continue to be done remotely until COVID is no longer a threat.
Did you know? RCM exams can be used as University-Level High School Credits. Level 7 Piano and Level 7 Theory combine to become Grade 11 Music and Level 8 Piano with Level 8 Theory become Grade 12 Music. The 2 marks are averaged to create the mark for the credit. If you would like more information on this, please speak to me.
Please let me know if you have any questions or concerns. Here’s to a great year!