Music Studio Policies
(I'm sorry this document is so long. Every one of these points brings up an issue I've dealt with in the past, so it's helpful to put it all in writing so that everyone is on the same page with no surprises.)
My rates for private lessons (online, in my home, or at SIUE) are as follows:
I charge a flat-rate monthly tuition during the school year. I add up the number of lessons per term and divide by the number of months, so there will be no adjustments for months with five lessons OR for months with only three lessons. This fee schedule has two "free" lessons built-in per semester. In other words, twenty-two lessons are scheduled each term, but I only charge for twenty lessons. This schedule will allow for time off in case of an unavoidable calendar conflict, illness, or emergency. This also simplifies scheduling and makes bookkeeping easier for everyone!
60 min lesson: $240/month -most common
45 min lesson: $190/month
30 min lesson: $140/month
Sibling discounts are available. I charge my standard hourly rate per family, rather than per student. My standard fee becomes incrementally less per hour as the lesson time increases.
90 min session: $330/month
120 min session: $400/month
My rates for coaching chamber groups are as follows:
$25/person (i.e. $50 for a duet, $75 for a trio, $100 for a quartet, etc., for up to one hour)
Individuals who do not wish to commit to a regular weekly lesson schedule can purchase lessons a la carte at a rate of $75/hour.
Please contact me for my adjudication and clinician rates.
New families will automatically be enrolled in auto-pay, which is an amazing technological advancement that requires no effort or energy on the part of the parents to remember to pay monthly tuition. Tuition will be charged to the card on file on the first of the month (though sometimes fees are pulled one day early or late). No credit card fees or processing fees will be charged to your account.
I keep an inventory of method books and sheet music stock, and I will also order books, sheet music, or supplies that students will require during the course of lessons. The student’s account will be billed for these materials on the next monthly billing cycle for the cover price and any applicable shipping costs, rounded up to the nearest dollar.
Additional fees will be invoiced to families to cover the costs of recitals. The costs associated with recitals may include fees for collaborative musicians, rehearsal or performance space, and equipment rental. I will give you plenty of notice to cross-reference your calendars. Unless families let me know of a scheduling conflict within the first month of the term (January or August) this fee is non-refundable. I absorb these costs far in advance of the recital, and in most cases, it's impossible to negotiate refunds from collaborative partners or vendors for families who have sudden changes in plans.
*I will enthusiastically attend any student rehearsals or performances for events sponsored by my studio (e.g. recital tech rehearsals) or my students’ schools (Solo and Ensemble Festival, Band Concerts, etc) at no charge.
A $100 deposit must be paid upon enrollment, which will be applied toward your first month's tuition.
A fee of $15 will be assessed on all accounts that remain unpaid by the 10th of the month. A $20 fee will be assessed on all returned checks.
(Note: The vast majority ( about 80%) of the funds I earn from teaching go right back into my teaching business through costs associated with education and training (which helps me become a better teacher), membership organizations that offer opportunities for my students to perform or compete, instrument maintenance, and the costs of office supplies, books, sheet music etc.
I use the remainder to support my children's music training, and I pledged to send monthly contributions to the Philippines, where we support an orphanage that houses young children who have been rescued from trafficking situations.
I keep the numbers of my students on the smaller side for a reason. I want to be able to provide an outstanding music education to the students who study with me, and it becomes more difficult to provide exceptional individual attention as my teaching schedule crowds. My teaching income is strictly budgeted, so it becomes challenging for me to meet my own financial obligations when I'm met with late or delinquent payments. This is my nice way of asking you to please be responsible with tuition payments. Thank you for understanding!)
Not every student meshes well with every teacher. Students should have the opportunity to study with a teacher whose skill set and personality can best benefit their own personal musical growth and development. I accept new students on a three-month trial basis. After three months, we can chat and mutually decide if we want to move forward with a longer-term relationship.
Missed Lessons/Makeup Lessons
Regular lesson attendance is required. We have two free lessons per semester built into the schedule for unplanned absences. I also designate two-three weekends per term as "make-up" weekends, where lessons missed during the course of a term can be made up. I do have a very full teaching schedule, but I will do my best to accommodate the rare rescheduling requests as my calendar permits, but makeup lessons are not guaranteed.
I often teach my students beyond our normally scheduled lesson time by ten or fifteen minutes (or even longer). I track this time, and when we have achieved 30/45/60 minutes, these combined mini-sessions can be used as a makeup lesson "in advance." I am committed to helping my students progress and don't mind spending extra time with them in order to help achieve our goals. You do not have to pay for the extra time, but it will be counted toward lessons in the future that are canceled.
Please notify me at least a week in advance for a single planned absence with a valid excuse (such as family trips or school events), or by 10:00 in the morning in case of illness for lessons to be rescheduled. If your child throws up in the car on the way to lessons, I totally get it (I’m a parent, too), but last-minute changes can be very challenging to manage from an administrative standpoint. For longer periods of absence, milder illnesses, or inclement weather, a virtual lesson can be utilized during the student’s regular time.
For more complex absences (i.e., long illnesses), I do offer extra lessons during recital weeks, and I schedule additional lesson slots over the summer term to provide makeup lessons for students with excused absences. See the summer policies below.
There will be no reimbursements for missed lessons, and tuition is never adjusted unless the instructor cannot provide the promised number of lessons.
Please let me know if you are running late to your lesson. If you call or text, I will wait. If 10 minutes have passed with no notification, you forfeit your lesson slot.
Lesson Terms and Holidays
The regular lesson term typically begins the first week of September and ends the last week of May. Thanksgiving Day, Black Friday, and two weeks for Christmas (not necessarily Sunday to Saturday, but possibly Wednesday to Tuesday or other combination of 14 days) will be blocked off of the teaching calendar. For other special holidays or events that might conflict with lessons (Halloween, school programs, sporting events, birthdays, band concerts, etc.), we can shift things around that week to try to accommodate your schedule. If you're ever unsure of the lesson/holiday schedule, you can log into your account on My Music Staff to view the calendar.
Makeup Lessons and Summer Session
While short breaks from routine can be rejuvenating, long periods away from the instrument lead to stalled progress and lapses in skills. In the spirit of these sentiments, lessons during the summer will be billed at 75% of the normal monthly rate to accommodate activity and travel schedules. Students may also schedule extra lessons over the summer to use as makeup lessons or just to receive extra help.
Summer tuition doesn’t just cover lessons, but also monthly, weekly, and daily summer enrichment activities that I provide to help your child grow in skills over the summer (and we do a lot of summer activities!- including daily scales workouts, masterclasses, and workshops)
I will assume your child will continue at his/her same lesson day and time throughout the summer unless I hear otherwise from you. I’m happy to shift things around a little for students due to the busy nature of summer activities. I don’t even mind changing the day and time of lessons every single week. That said, please consider I attend numerous continuing education conferences throughout the summer, and I teach camps, clinics, and workshops through my own studio, the public schools, and elsewhere. My family also has an incredibly full schedule that I must organize. I spend much of May planning lessons for June and July, and August, then much of July planning for the fall, so it is very helpful to me to let me know as much in advance as possible what your anticipated summer schedule will be.
If a scheduling conflict suddenly arises on my end (e.g. illness or an out-of-town conference), lessons already on the calendar can be rescheduled at any time in June, July, or August.
I give scheduling preferences in the fall to students who enroll in summer lessons. I do have several students on my waiting list, so I cannot guarantee a spot in the fall for families who feel they must take time off during the summer unless they pay tuition to hold their spot. Also, I raise my tuition rates annually to cover the rising costs of continuing education, sheet music, and other supplies. Currently-enrolled students are “grandfathered” in at the rate they were charged when they first enrolled. Students who drop out and re-enroll will be charged the newer rate.
Graduating high school seniors/rising college freshmen may pay per lesson through the summer at their current hourly rate if they desire.
I am thrilled to announce that I offer scholarships to deserving students through MusicLink Foundation. Please inquire for more details.
Students who are ill should not come to lessons. We can either reschedule for a different day or utilize a virtual lesson option.
Water bottles are permitted inside, but please, no other food, drink, or gum. It’s helpful for parents to observe lessons for younger children (under age 8 or 9) in order to help facilitate good technique and practice habits at home, though this rule can be adjusted circumstantially. Students and families are welcome to use the downstairs bathroom as needed.
Students are expected to bring the following materials to lessons:
- An instrument in working order (flutists only)
-All books currently in use (even if no piece is assigned in a book that particular week)
I maintain a large library of flute and piano sheet music, books on the flute or piano, and general musicianship. Students are welcome to check out materials that may interest them. Items that aren’t returned within 2 months will be charged to the student’s account (exceptions are always allowed for extenuating circumstances).
I will often make copies of a particular piece or exercise for a student, since 1) photocopying is legally permitted for educational purposes; 2) a copy of an item serves the same purpose as a loan of that item, and; 3) making a copy is a “safer” option than loaning an expensive book, HOWEVER, I do believe that composers and publishers (artists in general) should be compensated for their intellectual property, and I ask that families purchase music that a student spends significant time studying seriously or performs publicly.
Recitals are a wonderful opportunity to help students develop a stage presence, self-confidence, and discipline as they demonstrate their meticulously prepared masterpieces. Participation is highly encouraged in studio recitals and other workshops, competitions, or masterclass opportunities as they arise.
Students are also encouraged to schedule one performance away from the studio each semester. Some ideas include houses of worship, hospitals or nursing homes, community events, or school talent shows.
Music is a lifelong pursuit, and it takes years of committed daily practice to become proficient. Sufficient progress will not occur by simply attending lessons. Children often lack the discipline and motivation to maintain a regular practice schedule, which is why parental support is the most important factor in developing musical skills. Parents need to schedule and encourage a regular, daily practice regimen. They may also need to sit with younger children to assist.
I recommend practicing 6 out of 7 days a week, with one rest day. For younger children (ages 4-5), I recommend at least 15 minutes of practice a day. For children ages 6-10, I recommend 30-45 minutes of practice every day. Ages 12+ should practice an hour daily (or more). Please note, this doesn’t have to occur all in one sitting. It is often more effective to break up longer practice sessions into smaller sessions throughout the day. Children who are struggling learners, as well as children who are musically advanced, should consider spending more time practicing than average. Of course, these recommendations are just a guideline, and more specific directions will be offered during the course of lessons.
Practice does not mean simply playing through a piece from beginning to end. It means isolating difficult measures, phrases, and lines of music again and again and again until relaxed fluency and beauty are achieved. Counting aloud or experimenting with different rhythms can aid a student in mastering challenging material.
All serious musicians regularly practice with a pencil and a metronome/tuner. A pencil is useful for marking problem areas in the sheet music. A metronome helps students internalize proper tempos and rhythms. There is an inexpensive iPhone app called “Tonal Energy Tuner” that works beautifully.
Flutists: If your family doesn’t already own a music stand, it’s absolutely necessary to purchase one to ensure proper practice habits. I’ve had great luck with Peak brand foldable stands (and believe me, we’ve tried many different brands!). They are lightweight, yet very sturdy and easy to transport.
Parents, I am the mother of 8 children who all take music lessons and I am a terrific practice-troubleshooter. If you're not sure your child is practicing well or if you're getting a lot of pushback, I can help you work through this! Please don't be afraid to reach out during lessons or text/call/email as needed.
Parents will be required to help younger students practice, but their main role is to be their children’s cheerleader. Listen to your kiddos practice with encouragement and enthusiasm. Ask questions about their lessons and pieces. Go over their lesson notes with them a few times per week to make sure they are working on all assignments properly.
Parents also need to provide an instrument that is in fine working order and well-maintained. An instrument that has been in storage for some years probably needs a complete overhaul, and it would often be more cost-effective to buy a newer one. Flutes and pianos require an adjustment once or twice a year to stay in playable condition. I would be happy to advise you on purchasing or maintaining an instrument. In fact, PLEASE DO NOT BUY ANY INSTRUMENT WITHOUT PROFESSIONAL ADVICE. This is part of the service I provide to students in my studio. There is no charge to pick my brain about this, for me to travel locally with students to trial instruments, OR for me to host an instrument trial session in my studio. I have relationships with several flute retailers and can easily acquire several instruments for your child to trial.
Termination of Lessons
It’s possible that a budding violinist resides in the soul of a student and not a flutist. Maybe my teaching style clashes with a student’s learning style. Please rest assured that I will never take the discontinuation of lessons personally, and you can feel free to speak to me about any of your concerns.
One month’s notice is required by the parents to discontinue lessons. You are financially obligated to pay for the last month of lessons, whether or not the student attends.
I reserve the right to remove students from the schedule due to consistent weak practice habits, multiple unexcused tardies or absences, late payments, or poor behavior.
All studio communication (announcements, newsletters, scheduling, etc) is sent directly to parents, but I will also communicate directly to older students if that is their parent’s preference.
If students (or parents) have questions about lesson material during the week, I maintain an open-communication policy. Texts, phone calls, and emails are more than welcome at any time, though I usually return calls and emails the following morning. Really, I would rather you email me a question than struggle along in confusion or discouragement all week, so please don’t hesitate to reach out.
I look forward to an exciting, musical year with you!
Most sincerely yours,
marciemonaco (at) gmail (dot) com
phone: Eight-four-three eight-one-four three-three-nine-seven