Frequently Asked Questions

COVID-19

What happens if my child is ill or required to self isolate?

Students who are taking lessons in person in the studio are asked to stay at home if they show any signs of cold or flu-like symptoms, if they have traveled in the last 14 days or if they have been exposed to anyone who has been symptomatic. However, we also believe that regular consistent lessons are one of the cornerstones to success. Students who will miss their lessons due to illness are asked to call the school so we can inform the teacher. Students can attend their lessons virtually and connect with their teacher online in their regularly scheduled lesson time thus allowing the student to continue their regularly scheduled class and protect their community. Click Here for more information.

Registration

What happens if I miss a lesson?

We care about our students and we are committed to their progress, if a student can not attend their class in person our teachers are set up to transition to an online class even at the shortest notice.  In the event that a student is completely unavailable for their class, the teacher might be available to provide a free class at an alternative time, but it does depend on their availability which includes their teaching schedule, their career schedule, and their life and family commitments.  As such our teachers are not always available for a free class at an alternative time.

How young is too young – starting at the right age

Parents are always the best people to decide what age to start music lessons, as it will depend on the child’s ability to concentrate, their language skills, and physical dexterity. If a student is really keen on starting but seems too young for their preferred instruments, consider introducing them to the piano. As a general rule students can start piano classes as young as 4, and with programs that are specifically written and taught for that age group many students find success. Everything they learn will benefit them when they are a little older and moving to the instrument of their dreams.  

The guitar is larger and has some physical challenges for younger students, so we often suggest that students start after they are 7. We also typically suggest a fractional-sized guitar (either 1/2 or 3/4 the size of a full-size guitar.)  

Vocal students can start at age 7 but reading is a big part of a vocal lesson.  At an early age, we are looking for the student to copy and sing via rote. While breathing techniques and exercises can start younger, many teachers will choose to delay the more technical aspects of vocal lessons until the student is older, when they have a better understanding and control of the internal mechanisms of the human body.

Drum lessons are often delayed until the student is a little older, 8 or 9, simply because the size of the drumkit can be an impediment.  Smaller fractional size drum kits are available for parents and students who want to get started younger.

Brass and woodwind often start when a student enters jr. high school, or grade 6-7.  Students can start younger, but much like vocal lessons knowledge and control of the internal body mechanisms is critical and often easier to understand and develop with students age 9 and up.

Violin is an instrument that has some unique challenges that can make it beneficial to wait until a student is 6 or 7 before they begin.  Violins do come in many fractional sizes so parents and students should be able to find the right size instrument for a student of any age.

What instruments do you teach?

We offer music lessons on most of the popular instruments with a variety of teachers, styles, and lesson times available on each instrument. Click on the link for a more detailed description of the instrument and some of the options available. We currently offer lessons on:

Piano

Guitar

Ukulele

Drums

Voice

Violin

Brass

Woodwinds

Beginning Student Questions

Is a half-hour lesson long enough for a beginner?

Thirty minutes once a week should be enough time for most beginners.  The class will typically be structured with a few minutes to warm up and run some technical exercises, then students will move on to present their material from the previous class. Teachers will then introduce new concepts, new material for the student to work on for the upcoming week, assign the material or homework, and finish with a quick review.

As the student advances, and the material becomes longer and more complicated, classes should increase in length or frequency but typically students will take 3-5 years before a longer lesson is recommended.

Do I need to attend lessons with my child or can I drop them off?

Many parents will and do just drop their child off for the class and pick them up when the class is completed.  Younger and beginner students do benefit from a mentor at home, and even if you are not musically inclined yourself you can be a mentor for your child.  By sitting in on part or all of the class you can be a resource to help your child understand what needs to be worked on and how to prioritize and maximize their practicing time.  As students become older and more advanced they will become more independent and parents can plan to reduce their time in class to just a few minutes to get a quick report.  More advanced or older students may receive the best benefit from you reducing your in-class time to just a few minutes every month to help monitor their progress.

How long should it take a beginner to play a song?

It really depends on the age of the student, the instrument they are playing, and the program the teacher is working with. Generally, we are looking to start learning songs as soon as possible and it is not uncommon to have students working on simple songs at the very first class.

What do I need to bring to class?

Your teacher can help you know what you will need at every class, and every teacher may have their own requirements, but a general list might look like;

Your own instrument (unless you play drums, keyboard or piano)

A cable to plug in your electric guitar or bass

A tuner to tune your instrument

A metronome

The music book(s) you are working from

A tool to record on like a cell phone, if you wish to have a recording of the lesson or part of the lesson at home.

A notebook preferably with a music staff or notation paper specific to your instrument

A list of questions or challenges you experienced with your assignment over the past week so the teacher can work with you to help achieve your goals.

Practice Questions

How long should a student practice?

How long and how often a student should practice is really determined by their age, experience, and ultimately their overall goals.  The more time and focused practice a student commits to, the faster they will progress towards their goals.  Beginner students may spend as little as 10 to 15 minutes on their instrument where advanced students or students with ambitious goals will practice considerably longer.

How important is daily practice?

Daily or regular practice is important for students to achieve their goals.  Frequent repetition helps students strengthen their muscles, fine motor skills, and muscle memory, so students will notice the best results when they practice regularly.  This development is crucial, because as a student progresses the music they will aspire to play will require personal development in order to play it correctly.  Regular practice also helps improve memory and recollection, as well as develop habits and discipline. As they progress to more complicated material these skills become increasingly more important. Students can still progress with less than regular practice and some students choose to only review their material weekly during the lesson.  The students will still receive value from the classes and the teacher’s feedback but their progress will not be as dramatic as their peers.

What if I only want to play for fun?

The majority of students are looking to play music as a hobby, develop life skills, and find a creative outlet that is both fun and rewarding.  Music is also a skill that requires some development before they can begin to explore the instrument in a fun and rewarding way.  Music development is similar to many skills and hobbies we explore as children.  Much like a young hockey player who is just looking to play for fun, they will benefit from guidance, skill development, and practice to advance to the point where they are playing games and really having fun.

What should I do if my child is not practicing?

Almost every student has periods of time when they don’t want to practice, which is normal for students of every age and experience level.  The first question is to find out why they don’t want to practice and to let the teacher know as soon as possible.  If the child is not interested in the song, or finds the material too challenging, the sooner the teacher knows the sooner they can address the problem and find a solution.  Our teachers have many tools and techniques at their disposal to help motivate or inspire the student, as well as different systems to keep the student accountable to their goals and aspirations.  The key is to try and find a solution that works for you, the child, and the teacher as quickly as possible.

Students will often feel overwhelmed or stressed from concerns not related to their music class, and they may just need a short reprieve from practicing.  This is common, but again by letting the teacher know they can often pivot the class so the child is still receiving the benefits and encouragement from the teacher even though they are temporarily focused away from practice.

Instruments and Repertoire

What are the benefits of studying the Royal Conservatory and completing the examinations?

The Royal Conservatory of Music is a tried and tested method of music education that has been around for almost 150 years.  The program focuses on linear development where students can progress through levels experiencing greater technical development and proficiency.  Students can be tested by professional examiners and graded if they so wish.  Alumni of the program include Paul Shaffer, Diana Krall, Oscar Peterson, Randy Bachman and more.

Do you only teach the Royal Conservatory method?

We have instructors that specialize in the Royal Conservatory and exam preparation.  We also have instructors that specialize in contemporary music, rock and roll, jazz, country, metal, and we have teachers that are experts at teaching both contemporary music as well as classical.  The majority of our students are looking to learn and play for fun and are more interested in rock, blues country, and we pleased to have the right teachers to help them.

What type of guitar is best for a beginner?

There is often questions and lots of opinions about whether a student should start with an electric guitar or an acoustic guitar. Beginner students will usually start on the same material regardless of the guitar they use, so the most important factor is that it is a good quality guitar that is well set up and maintained.

Acoustic guitars can be a lower-cost option because you do not need to purchase an amplifier to go along with the guitar.  They also come in fractional sizes so that younger and smaller students can find an instrument that is the right size.  They do typically come with thicker (heavier) strings than electric guitars so they might be a little harder to play for a new beginner and their fingers might be a little sore.

Electric guitars also come in fractional sizes, but because the body is much thinner than the body of an acoustic guitar many students will find the full-size electric guitar a comfortable size, even if a fractional sized acoustic guitar was appropriate.  Electric guitars have thinner strings making them easier to play as a new beginner, and they have a wider variety of ‘sounds’ from jazz to metal to help keep a student’s interest.  There are added costs because you will need to purchase an amp to go along with the guitar, and the electric guitar is typically heavier which can be challenging for young students.

Ultimately the decision is up to you, your budget, and your child’s preference.

Is it necessary to have an instrument at home?

Regular practice is important for any student to develop their skills and abilities.  Music lessons are designed to provide the student with ‘assignments’ they can work on at home, to return the following week ready to present their successful work to their instructor.  Without an instrument of their own students will struggle to achieve their best results. Student model instruments are typically fairly reasonable to purchase, and most instruments are available to rent for a very reasonable monthly fee.

Do I need to bring my instrument to lessons?

It depends on the instrument.  Our school is equipped with drums, pianos and amplifiers for students to use, so drum and piano students do not need to bring an instrument.  Students who are studying guitar, bass, or ukulele, should bring their instrument along to the lesson, but electric guitar and bass students can leave their amplifiers at home and use ours.  Likewise, students studying brass, woodwind instruments, and violin, will also need to bring their instruments to every class.