I am excited to share my love of music with my students and I hope that we make musical progress that I, the student, and their parent can be satisfied with. In analyzing beginning music students, I find that each student has a wide spectrum of positive musical qualities about them and some students have attributes that they learned in previous musical training or lack-there-of that will require months and maybe even years to improve upon. As a result, some students will make swift progress, while others will take many months of careful study before much progress is evident.
In all cases, it is the exercises used in warm-ups, technique exercises, and sight-reading, which play such an important part in building the musician and developing good technique. This technique is gradually transferred to songs.
Not all students who take music lessons will develop into fine soloists. However, many of them will find that as a result of this training they will be able to exhibit much more musical self-confidence. Many students have found that this background has made them influential members in church and community musical groups. In all cases, students will gain a much deeper appreciation for all types of music in general. They will also develop a much better self-confidence in front of large audiences.
Some students prefer to practice in privacy while others require the assistance of their parents. Continual practice is necessary for full benefit of lessons. Students with disciplined and organized regular practice sessions make the most progress. Occasionally, circumstances will arise where a student will not be able to practice as much as usual, and in this case the lesson will be a supervised practice session, not a missed lesson. You may ask, “How much practice time each day do you expect?” Well, it depends on what the assignment is. You can find all assignments your student's assignment agenda. I will fill out a new assignment at each lesson to help guide practice time. On occasion, I will list a specific amount of time that I would like for the student to practice. More likely, I will ask the student to practice assignments for a certain amount of repetitions. The answer however, to the question is that the student needs to practice the amount of time it takes to satisfy my expectations for each lesson. The student will be able to determine this as the lessons progress. This changes form lesson to lesson and from student to student. One student may accomplish in fifteen minutes what it takes another student thirty minutes to do. Students should be practicing 4-7 days per week. The most important practice of the week is the one done within 24 hours after the student’s lesson.
Ready to Practice? Here are some helpful hints:
*Practice the newest, hardest things first. End each practice session with something that the student loves.
*Mom or Dad should be pretty involved in practice time especially during the first 24 hours after a student’s lesson.
*Be sure to compliment your child more than you correct!
Practice at Home
Your at home practice is an essential ingredient in the recipe for making a musician. FIVE practices between each lesson is the ideal. Keep the following things in mind to help your practice sessions be effective and enjoyable.
*Parents be excited, encouraging and positive.
*Don’t criticize, demean, scold, or become frustrated
*Determine a time each day hat is a calm time and relatively uninterrupted.
What to Practice
*Touch on each assignment for the week every day.
When your child doesn’t want to practice
*Consider the time you’ve chosen to practice. Is there a distraction?
*Consider your practice style. Are practice sessions too long?
*Consider your attitude. Is it a chore? Lighten up and try again tomorrow.
My philosophy on parental involvement is that, where ever there is a successful musician, there is a parent that positively encouraged their child to follow their musical ambitions and encourage their child to practice often. Parents will need to be less involved in older student’s practice time, but for the younger student, parents will need to be present during the practice time. Older students may just need a subtle reminder that it is time for them to practice on their own. I will communicate to parents and students if students are not meeting my practice expectations and in that case, I expect parents to take a more active role in insuring that students are practicing.
Visitors (including parents, siblings, and friends) are not usually permitted to attend lessons. If you would like to attend one of your child's music lessons, please ask and we will see what kind of arrangements we can make for you.
I have worked my tuition structure such that it will be easy to budget for lessons. You will never have to wonder how much you owe because the tuition for music lessons during the school year (September through May) will be evenly divided into NINE equal payments! Please refer to the studio calendar to know exact dates of lessons, master classes, group lessons, and vacation days, all dates have been taken into consideration when deciding upon the price of your monthly fees. Tuition Payment Options: Option #1 - Pay Monthly using an ACH automatic bank draft. You will just need to fill out a form for this. or Option #2 - Pay by Semester. If you prefer to pay by semester, you may write a check or pay through Venmo @Misty-Ralphs.
Late Payments: If paying by semester, your tuition is due by September 10th for the Fall Semester and January 10th for the Spring Semester and June 10th for the Summer Semester. A $25 late fee will be added to each account that is not current with payments on September 11th, January 11th, and June 11th. Students will not be allowed to continue with the next month’s lessons if their accounts are not current by the last day of the previous month. You will be notified via email when a late fee is added to your account. If you need to regularly pay for tuition on a different date than the standard due date, please speak with me and we will work out an individualized payment plan for you.
What does your tuition cover? Your tuition guarantees that Mrs. Ralphs will be available to teach your child 32 weeks during the school year. The 32 weeks will consist of 30 lessons and 2 Master Classes or Group Lessons. Your tuition also covers my time spent with the student teaching lessons & master classes, my time spent in preparation for the student: Trips to the music store, lesson planning, bookkeeping, development of curriculum, communication with parents. Your tuition also covers my training and experience and studio expenses: incentive programs, instruments, tuning, repairs, etc. Music books and recordings: Materials purchased by the teacher to keep costs low for students. Continuing education and Certification costs.
The registration fee for all students is $30.00 due June 1st of each year or upon registration. It covers the cost of two recitals during the school year, printing expenses for materials, and for singers, recordings to practice with at home.
Music Purchases & Required Materials
Students and parents need to understand that the cost of music is above and beyond the fee for lessons. From past experience, I have found that many parents inquire about extra costs involved in the purchase of music. I try to use books whenever possible. An estimate of music costs for the first year of lessons would range from $30-50 for piano students and $40-60 for voice students. Each school year a student should be prepared to spend about that much on books and materials. Occasionally, I will purchase the appropriate books for my students and will require the parent to reimburse me at the student’s next lesson. More often, I will send parents a prescribed music purchase list and expect for all materials to be purchased within 2 weeks. All materials can be purchased at The Piano Gallery, sheetmusicplus.com, pianopronto.com, thefullvoice.com, or Amazon. I will always inform parents before a book purchase takes place. I generally use variety of literature for both my piano and voice students taking into account learning style, experience, and interest.
This experience is highly recommend, but expenses are above and beyond the cost of tuition and registration fees should you choose to have your child participate. Entry Fees & Accompanist Fees will vary.
All Students: should have a 3 ring binder that can hold loose sheet music and handouts. All students should also bring a pencil to every lesson in a three-ring pencil pouch. All students are required to have their assigned method books, assignment book, and literature at every lesson. Materials should be kept in a designated music bag for organization purposes.
Piano Students: Piano students will need to purchase a metronome at the appropriate time in the school year. Piano students are required to have access to a piano that they can practice on a minimum of four times per week. Pianos and keyboards need to have a working pedal.
Voice Students: In addition to vocal literature books, voice students are required to have a portable CD player to practice with at home.
There are lasting benefits of recitals and festivals. In addition to the wealth of repertoire to which the students are exposed thorough the recital format, the students gain a great deal of self-confidence from program to program. Processing the student’s performance at the post recital lesson is important. Students experience musical growth in the performance of their peers as well as themselves. The recital participation makes the student more comfortable in auditions, competitions, and in general performances for their church or community.
Missed Lessons / Makeup Lesson Policy
Your tuition guarantees that Mrs. Ralphs will be available to teach your child 32 weeks during the school year. If your child misses a lesson there are some reasonable alternatives that you may choose from. However, I do not offer make-up lessons to students regardless of the reason that they missed their lesson. Out of courtesy, I expect a phone call, text, or email if your child will be missing lessons. Tuition remains the same no matter how many lessons your child attends during the month and I do not offer credits or refunds. Please be assured that your tuition is always working for your child as I spend a great deal of time outside of lessons choosing repertoire, planning, strategizing, etc. Because specific times are set aside for specific students, a student who does not attend a lesson will simply miss the benefit of that lesson. I will then use that time or other times to plan for the student’s progress. If for any reason I have to cancel a lesson, I will offer a make-up lesson. Fridays are reserved for this purpose. This is not an option for lessons that the student cancels and does not include vacation time already scheduled on the calendar. Note: Should a singer lose their voice or a piano student break a hand, they may still attend their scheduled lesson. There are many activities that we can do with those impairments such as ear training, rhythm exercises, and theory activities.
Give Your Lesson Time to a Sibling: If you have two or more children that take lessons and one of them is ill, give me a heads up and I will prepare extended lesson for the healthy child that way they can get some activities in that we sometimes don’t have time to do like ear training, composing, and playing games and you won’t feel like your money is going to waste. Taking Time Off: Many of my students are involved in several activities outside of music lessons, especially high school students. If you realize that there will be a month that you are unable to attend your lessons for whatever reason, please notify me, and you may opt to take the month off. You may want to do this during a month that you have driver’s ed, have a new baby at your house, or you are in a special performance that requires a lot of extra rehearsals. If you choose to take the month off, please be courteous and give me at least two weeks’ notice. If proper notice is given, I will allow you to pay half of the month’s tuition to hold your child’s place. Please note that this can only be done one time per school year. Students that need more time off will need to withdraw and re-register when they want to return to lessons. Please give a 30 day notice if you would like to withdraw your child from lessons. This will allow me time to contact students on my waiting list and fill the spot. Please note that if your child takes off a month in which we are preparing for a recital or festival, they may be ineligible to participate in which ever performance is affected.
Music is a lifelong pursuit and requires commitment. Sometimes lessons are not always possible for a multitude of reasons. Whatever the reason, I will never take discontinuation of lessons personally. Remember: if you are unsatisfied with your lessons for any reason or if you are contemplating quitting lessons, please speak freely to me about your concerns.
Once you pay your registration fee, it is assumed that your child will continue taking lessons until May 31st. A new teaching year begins June 1st. Discontinuation of lessons requires a 30 days notice – This gives us time to wrap up any current projects and discuss how the student can continue to follow their music goals. This also allows me the necessary time to fill that empty lesson slot so that I can avoid a loss in income. Failure to give adequate notice, will result in you being charged your monthly rate. Thank you for your consideration.
Summer months can be tricky as there are other activities and family vacations planned. It is not wise for a music student to take off the entire summer (June, July, August) from practicing and learning as students tend to regress and the fall months are spent reviewing rather than studying new things. I require that I see each student a minimum of eight times over the summer. i will have several options available to you each summer so that your family can easily fill this requirement. Students that fail to meet the minimum requirement for summer music lessons, will not be guaranteed a spot in the studio for the following school year.