Frequently Asked Questions:
Are you taking on any new pupils at the moment?
I am about to start my maternity leave so I have temporarily stopped taking on new pupils. Please contact me from November this year (2018) if you’re interested in taking up lessons.
How much do your lessons cost and how is payment made?
Teaching rates are dependent on length of lesson but my basic rate is £20 per half hour, £30 for 45 mins or £40 per hour. The length of the lesson is dependent on level of ability, age of pupil, and your preference! As a rough guide I give young beginners 20-30 minute lessons, and advanced/older pupils from 45 minutes to an hour.
I usually ask for 4 or more lessons payment upfront, but if this is a problem please do discuss it with me. I am currently offering a lesson for free if you pay for 10 in a block, the first time you book. (Most pupils pay in blocks of 10 lessons for convenience) I don’t charge if you need to miss a lesson as long as you can give me at least 24 hours notice so I can try and fit someone else in your time slot. I am happy to be paid by bank transfer, cash or cheque – whatever suits you!
Where do you give lessons?
I give lessons at my house (in Avenue Road) in Christchurch. There is plenty of parking space on the road outside.
Unfortunately as my schedule is now quite full I am usually unable to travel to pupils homes as potential lesson time is lost during travel.
Which days and times do you teach?
I am currently teaching Monday to Friday from 9am – 7pm. I have the most flexibility in times and days before 3pm.
Do you have gift vouchers for lessons that I can give to friends and family?
Yes, I have professionally printed good-quality vouchers that would make a great gift for any aspiring musician! I can enter the length of lesson that you choose on the voucher so that the price does not appear. You can purchase as many or as few as you wish, for as long a lesson as you wish! Please contact me for more info or to order them.
Have you had a DBS check?
Yes, as a result of working for Durleston Court School I have an up-to-date DBS check.
Can I/my child come for a trial lesson?
Yes, please do! It is in the interests of both parties that we can build a good relationship and are looking for the same things from lessons. Trial lessons usually last half an hour and cost £20 unless you prefer a longer lesson.
Do you encourage public performances?
Yes, whenever possible! It is a vital part of the experience of learning an instrument and even if you don’t have plans for a musical career, it gives useful life skills in learning to deal with nerves and public presentations. I organise annual concerts (non-compulsory!) to give my pupils the opportunity to perform to and listen to others, of all ages and abilities. The pupils who have performed in these concerts have found the experience extremely positive, despite having to deal with some level of nerves beforehand!
I also encourage pupils of any ability to take part in as much group playing as they can – whether in an orchestra, accompanying an instrumentalist or choir, in chamber groups or a band or just duets with a friend – music should be enjoyable on every level and playing with other people is a huge part of that. Some of my younger pupils have had ‘piano parties’ where they play all their pieces to each other, which was a great success and gave them a huge amount of motivation to practice!
I don’t have a piano but think I would like to learn – what should I do?
If you are unsure whether you want to spend a large amount of money on a piano before starting lessons, there are many excellent (usually cheaper) keyboards that you can learn on, until you are sure you’re ready to buy a real instrument. If you do get a keyboard first, try to get one with full size keys and full length keyboard and with a heavy ‘touch’ – otherwise you might find it difficult to adapt to a real piano. In general however, despite keyboards improving significantly in recent years, a real piano will sound and feel (and look!) much nicer so it’s probably worth the investment – even as a family heirloom! You can often find cheap or free pianos and keyboards on sites such as Gumtree, Facebook marketplace and Freecycle.
If you decide to buy a piano, there are many excellent second hand as well as new ones that are not so expensive – so try out as many as you can to find the one you like the sound and feel of. If you would like advice about which one to get, I’m always happy to help! For good, completely restored second hand pianos and impartial advice try ‘The Little Piano Shop’ in Branksome – I’ve had several pupils buy pianos from them and they love them!
I don’t have an oboe but think I would like to learn – what should I do?
Oboes are available to rent from the Dorset Music Service who will rent to both children and adults. They have several spare instruments, some of which are student models which are much lighter and designed for small fingers! They hire the instruments out at a cost of just £84 for a year. If you want to just have a go on an oboe to see if you like it, I have a spare on which you can have a trial lesson. Unfortunately I can’t let you take it away, but if you get on with it then we can discuss places to hire or buy an instrument from.
Do you provide oboe reeds for your pupils?
Yes, I can provide pupils with reeds – if they want/need them – either made by myself or a recommended reed-maker. I also teach students how to make their own so they can start playing on them as soon as possible.
Do you offer any price discounts?
Yes, I am currently offering a lesson for free the first time you book 10 in advance. (This would mean however that if you need to cancel a lesson with less than 24 hours notice and we can’t find a time to reschedule that I may not be able to offer you a refund.)
Do you teach using the Suzuki Method?
I do not teach using the Suzuki method as firstly I have not done the training involved and secondly I believe it’s as important to be able to read music confidently at any age as it is to play from ear and memory. While the method is great for very young children I think from age 5 and up children can and should be able to read music for themselves and therefore be able do independent practice. Having said that, parental input is almost always beneficial so please do take active involvement in your child’s learning, even if it is just sitting in the room with them!
I have found lessons cheaper elsewhere – why should I choose you as a teacher?
I am aware that there may be cheaper tuition to be found (also much more expensive!) but I hope that my price reflects fairly the many years of study of both instruments that I have done – and am still doing, to a very high level (degree and postgraduate) with some of the best teachers in the world. I am a professional musician (with 5 years full-time orchestral experience) as well as a teacher and regularly play with some of the best orchestras in the country. I still practice constantly and audition for top UK jobs, trying to improve myself and my methods of playing – all of which is passed on to my pupils. I keep up to date with the latest knowledge and ideas about music and instrument developments, and am always adding to large archives of repertoire that are asked for exams and auditions. I also regularly check the Musician’s Union for their recommended teaching charge per hour and keep my prices in line with their advice.
I enjoy teaching a lot and want my students to enjoy themselves as well – I will always try to find music that people look forward to learning and be as encouraging as possible. As a result of this encouragement and my experience with exam preparation, so far 100% of my pupils have passed exams, the majority with excellent grades. I am also very flexible with lesson times and days – if you need to move or cancel a lesson I will do everything I can to accommodate your schedule, and as I only charge for missed lessons if there is less than 24 hours notice, it may end up being cheaper and more convenient than paying for lessons through a school. I am also contactable directly, and at your convenience which also is unusual through school lessons.
I am an adult beginner and have never played any music at all – can you teach me?
Absolutely! About half my pupils are adult beginners or adults returning to play after a long absence, and I’ve found that most people pick it up quickly and really enjoy the process of learning something new. I am happy to teach you things that you’ve heard or bought and want to play – whether pop, classical, etc as well as following a more traditional graded exams route, so please bring things along to your lessons! I want pupils to enjoy lessons and playing in general so encourage adults in particular to tell me what they want to get out of lessons and what they would really like to be able to play.