Commonly Asked Questions



Do you have an age limit for students?

There is no “hard and fast” age limit set for students. Some children are able to engage in serious music study even before starting school, while others are not of the right disposition at age 10 or 11. It really depends on the child. As a rule, however, it generally is best to wait until a child can read before beginning music lessons. This is typically around age 7 or 8. I always prefer to meet with each prospective student before scheduling lessons in order to ascertain whether they are ready, so do not let the child’s age alone determine whether he or she should begin music study. It has more to do with the child’s degree of interest and level of personal discipline than chronological age. All students under the age of 18 must have parental approval before commencing lessons.

What about adult students?

I will accept adult students, but as with younger students I prefer to meet with each briefly before beginning lessons. Adults with prior musical experience usually make very good students and progress well in their development. Those without previous musical experience sometimes approach lessons with unrealistic goals, thinking that perhaps because they are older and more mature they will advance much more rapidly. Often these students do not understand the amount of time involved in developing basic playing technique, and they quickly grow discouraged. If an adult begins lessons with the understanding that learning an instrument requires patience and diligent practice, he or she may do very well indeed. But they must be of the disposition to develop and maintain regular practice habits in order to do this. Those who have learned to play another instrument first know what is involved and are able to adapt these practice habits much more easily to their new instrument.

Do I have to have an instrument before taking lessons?

It is essential that each student have easy access to an instrument in order to practice what is learned in each lesson. Whether you own your own instrument, rent one from a music store, or borrow one from someone else, it is imperative for you to be able to have an instrument before beginning lessons. Otherwise it would be like trying to learn to cook without ever going into the kitchen. Each lesson is designed to guide the student into techniques to work on during the rest of the week. If you’re not sure you plan to stick with your music it would be wise to arrange for a rental from a local music store; but at some point it is always best to own your own instrument. (Click here for my advice on buying your first instrument.)

How much do music lessons cost?

Effective June 1, 2006, my rates are $15 a half hour. Most beginners require only half-hour lessons a week at first, but as students progress the lesson time usually is extended to one hour a week ($30 a session).

When do I pay for my music lessons?

After an initial meeting with the student and the parents (which is free), a schedule will be set up for length and frequency of lessons. Once this is done, I prefer that lessons be paid for monthly in advance. The reason for this is to minimize last-minute cancellations. Sometimes it is necessary to miss a lesson, and in such cases I request that you let me know as early in advance as possible. Missed lessons will be rescheduled, or if this is not feasible the fee will be carried over into the following month. Other arrangements can be made if necessary, but if other payment plans need to be made please discuss them with me during the initial meeting. Please note that lessons missed without prior notification will be billed.

What about music books and other supplies?

Exactly what music books and supplies you will need will depend on how advanced you are and also on your age. (A sample of what is typical may be found here.) Beginning students generally require only one or two method books, a note speller, and a music theory book. These are available at area music stores. Violin students also will need, in addition to the instrument, a shoulder rest, rosin, and a music stand. Mandolin students will need a plectrum (pick), a music stand, a lap cloth, and a footrest (optional). Whenever music or other supplies are needed and they cannot be found readily at area music stores, I will have them available to purchase through me. In most cases, however, I prefer that purchases be made through area stores. Sheet music is not terribly expensive, but there are some modest costs involved as you progress through the methods and begin learning solo works.

What kinds of music will I learn?

I am a teacher in the classical tradition, and I stress classical music of all periods. When one masters the classical method the doors are open to most other forms of music as well; but if one limits oneself only to, say, pop or folk music, that tends to become the extent of one’s ability. Classical music encompasses a very wide and diverse range of styles, from the early days of the Renaissance to the 21st century. Each era has produced new and exciting styles of classical music, and there’s something there to please everyone’s tastes.

Will I need to buy tapes or CDs?

While not required, building a good tape or CD library (or today an iPod library) is an excellent way to improve your knowledge of music and its interpretation. There are many ways to hear good music, however, without having to purchase tapes or CDs if you find them too expensive for your budget. Many recordings are available through the library or interlibrary loan; there are many free recitals and concerts given throughout the year in nearby Bloomington; and there are also several classical radio stations that can be picked up in the Bedford area — not to mention many internet sites, such as YouTube.com, where one can find free recordings online. In addition to these, though, I do encourage students to begin building their own personal music library if they can.

How often should I practice?

More is said about this on the page Tips on How to Become a Good Musician, but in general the following suggestions should be followed. Beginning students should practice a half hour daily; young students should divide this into two 15-minute blocks rather than all at once. As you progress you will increase your practice time on average to at least an hour a day, and for the advancing student even longer — I was practicing on average from four to six hours daily by the time I was in high school. This may be unrealistic for most students, but the advancing student often practices one to two hours daily. I do recommend that students take off one day a week from serious practicing (for me it was always Sunday) to help avoid burnout. It’s fine to play on your day off, but do it then just for relaxation. The rest of the week is for work! (One final note: Practice is essential! Students who persistently fail to practice will never accomplish much and will only be wasting their money and everyone’s time. This is something about which I’m rather picky. Skipping an occasional day or two of practice is one thing and is very human. But persistent laxity indicates a lack of desire to learn and advance. Practicing is not an option — it is required!)

Will we be giving recitals?

We endeavor to schedule at least one recital annually — sometimes more, depending on the number and level of students at any given time. Participation in the recitals is not absolutely mandatory, but it is strongly encouraged. Recitals give students an apportunity to demonstrate how they have progressed in their lessons, and they also allow students to hear other students and other music, aiding in the expansion of each individual’s musical horizons. I also encourage students to volunteer to perform at other local events when asked (such as at receptions, nursing homes, etc.) as these benefit not only the participating students but also are deeply appreciated by the audiences as well.

How do I sign up for music lessons?

The easiest way to inquire about music lessons is to fill out a sign-up form which you can do here. I encourage new students to read my Studio Policy before beginning lessons. Filling out the form does not obligate you in any way to taking lessons, but it is the first step to our making contact. Or you may telephone me at 812-675-1553. If phoning, however, please note that I do not usually answer the phone during a lesson, so feel free to leave a message and I will get back with you as soon as possible.


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