FAQs

Piano Instruction

Curriculum

Is my child ready for piano lessons?

Cool Conservatory will accept children as young as five, but age alone does not determine a child's readiness. At a minimum, a beginning piano student should be able to say and write the alphabet, write numbers up to 10, distinguish right and left, follow directions, and pay attention for 10 minute intervals.​

If your children are younger than five, please consider enrolling them in our Kindermusik classes! These are segmented by age: newborn  - 17 months, 18 months - 3 years,  and 3 - 5 years. Newborn through 3 years are parent+child classes; 3 - 5 years is a drop-off program.

Do we have to own a piano? Can we get a keyboard instead?

Your child needs to be able to practice on a regular basis, so you need to have a piano at home. An acoustic piano is best, but an electric piano with 88 weighted keys and pedals is perfectly acceptable. Many of Cool Conservatory's students learn on these instruments; in most cases electronic keyboards can be interfaced with your computer and used for exploring recording, composition, arranging, and orchestration.

I'm not sure my child will sit still for a 45 minute lesson...

You'd be surprised! Especially with younger children or students with short attention spans, we try to change directions every 5-10 minutes. At Cool Conservatory we don't typically spend the entire lesson at the bench. And we do a variety of activities -- playing, writing, listening, conducting, using manipulatives, and playing theory games. Most children do just fine with this lesson format.

How often should my student practice?

The short answer is, as often as necessary.



The long answer is based on the students level of attainment. We recommend that a beginning student practice at a MINIMUM the equivalent of the length of their lesson during the week. So, if the student is taking a 45 minute lesson, they should practice 15 minutes, 3 times a week. Again, this is strictly a minimum, and only suggested for students who have been playing less than six months. 5 times per week is the norm.



As the student progresses, practice time will increase to about 30 minutes by the end of the first year. Intermediate students will typically practice 30-45 minutes 5 days a week. Advanced students may practice upwards of an hour a day.



Your teacher will work out a practice schedule with you to best serve the student's needs. As a general pointer, the practice schedule should be written down in the same calendar as sports practices, ballet classes, doctor's appointments etc. This is important in terms of value-building for the student! If they see that the parents and families deem practicing important, they will too. If it constantly gets "bumped" in favor of other "more important" activities, you will quickly see a downward spiral!! The student will see it as vital if YOU do. It should not be necessary to nag your child to practice if you set the expectation at the outset and stick to it for 21 days. By then the new habit will have begun to form.



Your teacher has many other strategies to help with practice issues should they arise.

I don't play piano or read music! How can I help my student during the week?

There are many ways to help your child practice without needing to read music. Setting and sticking with a routine for practice is the best thing you can do. Simply sitting with your child during practice is enormously helpful. Also, you should read your child's assignment notebook where the teacher will give practice instructions.



If you feel strongly that you should have a better grasp on the material, a crash course can be arranged!

Which method, or methods, do you use?

At Cool Conservatory we use a selection of the best piano methods available today. These are supplemented and customized by materials developed in-house, based on pedagogies from the last 100 years in various fields of the arts. Every piano student also learns elementary conducting and music theory.

Our main teaching materials for beginners of all ages are from the Faber and Faber Piano Adventures series. This particular method was developed in the 1990s and quickly became the most popular in the world. It took the best of what had gone before -- Alfred, Bastien, Thomson, etc. -- and synthesized a new approach using more modern music and pedagogy. There are books for pre-readers, school-age children, and accelerated books for teens and adults.



Intermediate and  advanced students may study any or all of the following:



  • Classical Repertoire, supplemented by various "schools," or exercises from 19th century master teachers

  • Jazz piano, using Noah Baerman's excellent material, published by Alfred

  • Pop or Rock piano, using materials developed at Cool Conservatory

  • Blues piano, using Tricia Wood's books, published by Alfred

  • Improvisation

  • Composition

Are there performances?

Yes! Cool Conservatory offers several performance opportunities throughout the school year and summer vacation. The big ones are the Fall Concert held in early December, and the Spring Concert in May. Students from all our disciplines come together for a fantastic show -- notice we don't call it a "recital" -- followed by an amazing catered reception.



Performing in a concert is not mandatory, but highly encouraged. These are not the "recitals" you may remember as a child. Children prepare for six weeks prior to the performance during their regularly scheduled lessons. By the time the show arrives, they are ready.

This, btw, was the problem with those terrifying recitals many of us remember from when we were kids: lack of thorough rehearsal. The student needs to practice their entire routine, from the moment they get up from their seat to the moment they sit back down -- not just the piece(s) they are performing! This reduces the performance anxiety and boosts the sense of pride. And makes the experience fun, rather than traumatic.





Policies

Where are the lessons held?

Lessons are held in your home, or occasionally at our studio if we need the recording facilities. It is very important for the student to take instruction on the same instrument on which they practice!



Lessons are also available over Skype.

How often are the lessons?

Lessons are typically once per week. Beginning students younger than six should have lessons twice per week, as they actually do most of their learning at the lessons rather than at practice time between sessions.



It is not uncommon for interested students to have lessons twice per week. This also sometimes happens when preparing for a performance.

How long are the lessons?

Beginners younger than 6 should start with two 30-minute lessons per week. Beginners between 6 - 8 years old should start with a 30 minute weekly lesson, then move to a 45 minute lesson within the first year.



Older beginners should start with a minimum 45 minute weekly lesson, them move to an hour within the first year.



Intermediate and advanced students should have a weekly 60 minute lesson.

Vacations and Holidays?

Please consult the Conservatory's Calendar for planned holiday closures. If your school's holiday schedule differs from the Conservatory's, please notify us at once so we can reschedule the lessons in question. In the event your teacher must cancel a lesson, it will be rescheduled, or a substitute teacher will be provided.

What is your policy regarding missed lessons and makeups?

When you enroll with Cool Conservatory, is is expected that your child will attend all scheduled lessons. In the event of sickness or unavoidable appointments, the lesson may be made up, according to the following policy:

 

Each student may make up four (4) missed lessons during the course of the school year (September-June). Make-ups are held on Sunday afternoons; not every Sunday is available for make-ups, but most are. It is each family's responsibility to contact the teacher to schedule make-ups. Saturday and Monday students may additionally make up three-day weekends without impacting their make-up count. Make-ups expire at the end of June.

 

Please understand that it is vital to pursue value-building in the student's eyes and mind! If the lessons keep getting rescheduled because other activities are "more important," the value diminishes and it becomes harder and harder to get your child to practice. We know this from 20 years of bitter experience. Please do all you can to maintain a consistent schedule for your child.

What is your inclement weather policy?

In the event we have to declare a snow day (or more recently, a hurricane day), Cool Conservatory will contact you by phone, text, or email (your preference) by 830 AM. Lessons canceled due to inclement weather will be rescheduled. The last week of June is reserved to make up weather closures or snow days.

How does billing and payment work?

Tuition payments are due at the first lesson of every month, September through June. The amount due will be the same every month. Your first month's tuition is prorated if lessons commence later in the month. Cool Conservatory accepts credit cards (VISA/MC), checks, or cash. A 2.75% surcharge will be applied if you are paying with a credit card. Please make checks payable to Microtone Music International. All fees paid are non-refundable.

 

 

 

Tuition and Materials

How do I register for lessons?

Simply contact us to set up an initial evaluation. It's that easy! You can also download our registration form; just print, fill out, and give to your teacher after the evaluation.

What are the tuition costs?

Tuition costs are typically $210/month for 30-minute weekly lessons; $310/month for 45-minute weekly lessons; or $410/month for 60-minute weekly lessons. Please contact us for current rates in your area.



 



What about books, worksheets, other materials?

Method books and most other materials are provided by Cool Conservatory and billed to your account. Some materials are available free-of-charge online; for example, a huge variety of classical repertoire is available at imslp.org.

What is the difference in price for lessons in various subjects?

The tuition costs are the same for each subject or instrument studied, whether singly or in various combinations. The only exception is the first hour of musical accompaniment for auditions, which is charged at a higher rate.

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