Most of the published studio policies below have to do with in-person lessons in the Ann Arbor studio. Since Covid-19 all classes and lessons have taken place virtually, or in an outdoor location. For the foreseeable future the virtual studio will continue, and there is no boundary or limit to the studio's reach. Students are welcome from any location. Any rules having to do with safety and decorum in the actual studio may be disregarded until further notice. wcz 2021
Logistics, Safety, Decorum, Observations:
Parking: Please park on the street; do not block driveway, or park in the driveway, unless you are infirmed and have made prior arrangements with the household. In bad weather you may drive up to house to drop off a child, and then park in front of the house. Shoes: Outdoor shoes stay in the front hall, tucked out of the way. No bare feet please! You may wear socks or slippers from home, or use indoor foot slippers provided.
Stairway rules: The music room and studio is up a set of stairs. The stairway is carpeted and can be slippery so please, keep one hand on the railing, everyone! Children are not to play or slide on the stairs; certainly no running up or down. Please climb one step at a time, carefully!
Younger siblings: Siblings not involved in the lesson are welcome so long as they are sitting and listening, or occupied quietly with a book or some other non-distracting activity. If the younger sibling is too young to sit quietly for the whole lesson, plan to bring a caregiver or sitter who can take the child out for a stroll etc. There is a small neighborhood playground a half block from the house., and the Mallet's Creek library is one block away, with a pleasant children's section.
Arrival time: Plan to arrive to lessons on time, traffic and weather permitting! If you are late, please let me know you are on your way. If I haven't heard from you and you are over 15 minutes late, I will consider the lesson forfeited and I will not keep waiting.
Observations: For observing other's lessons, I encourage you to arrange to come early, or remain after, in order for your child to quietly view another student’s lesson.
Student readiness: Students are expected to be ready to listen and learn at their lesson, and to make their best efforts to fulfill what Ms. Zohar is asking them to do. The student should be well-rested, alert, and prepared with all pieces and materials that were assigned. The student should come to lessons with hands washed and nails clean and trimmed. There is to be no gum chewing, eating, or drinking in the studio.
For Parents - During Lessons and At Home:
During lessons: Parents of students up through about age 12 are expected to be in the studio during the lesson, listening and observing, and taking notes. If there are questions, the parent waits til the end of the lesson, but doesn't interfere. A parent's full attention should be on your child during the lesson.
Cell phones and food/drink: Parents may use a video-camera or cell phone for the purpose of recording part or all of the lesson, if this is helpful. This is in addition to taking notes in a notebook, to help make a clear verbal record of what the child is to work on each week. No cell phone use for online surfing or calls during lessons. They are to be silent mode.
As I strive to keep the studio pleasant and clean, and parents are good role models for their children, there is no gum chewing, food or drinks in the studio.
At home: Parents are the home “practice buddy” during the week. It’s up to the parent to establish a pleasant, quiet home atmosphere free of distracting noises. This includes consistency of the space and the time, and the expectation that both listening and practicing will take place at a regular time. It is up the parents to encourage responsible habits right from the beginning, that include taking care of the violin, daily listening and consistent practice.
Parental support includes enjoying your child's process of learning, and celebrating every small step. It includes creating a home environment that is full of music; and creating - a quiet and peaceful corner where music making will occur without distractions while a child is practicing; a home that is supportive of learning. - a regular time for violin and expecting that practice will happen during that time, as a regular and low-key activity as washing their face, brushing their teeth, or getting into pajamas. - keeping track of what your child is to work on according to the notes from the lesson, setting up their listening for the week, helping with posture and form, counting repetitions, applauding, playing games as we played at the lesson, laughing, and enjoying.
Parents support and encourage the child for efforts made. A parent's role is not to scold, chide, punish or embarrass the child for not getting it right, or not practicing. Perfection is not the goal!
Rather, praise the devotion. and efforts made.
The goal is for your child to be curious, to enjoy learning, to independently solve problems, and to have fun with music. The violin is the tool, not the end goal. Perhaps, as a result, your child will learn to play music on the violin very well, and as a result learn to be able to do a lot of other things very well in life.
Learning to play violin is a highly complex process, which can be learned by anyone if taken in a stepwise process at the pace and in the manner that fits the student. Practicing is the fuel that moves this process forward. Praise the effort and consistency for skills being learned, not the “cleverness” or “smartness” of the child. For such a challenging instrument, learning to play it takes patience, humility, openness, humor, readiness, and many repetitions to begin to gain a sense of understanding of how to play and to start sounding good. Eventually the joy comes in return, and as it multiplies it makes its own reward for the hard work!
The night before your child's lesson, create a check list:
Child is ready with preparations for the lesson and is getting a full night's rest;
Fingernails are clean and clipped;
All music and study materials are in the music bag ready to come to the lesson;
Instrument is tuned, clean and ready (check that any powdery rosin has been wiped off, strings are intact, not unwinding, bow is in good shape with enough hair, etc.), all parts of the instrument, shoulder rest, and bow are in the case, and the case is intact.
No make up lessons generally: Your child’s lesson is scheduled for a time set aside for him/her, and I am preparing for it. We will assume the lessons will be at the same time each week unless the request for a change comes from me, to accommodate my professional and musical obligations, performances and personal demands. If you have a request to change a lesson time, it will be at my discretion. If a child’s sports or school activity conflicts with a scheduled lesson, I ask that I receive notification of the conflict as soon as possible, or with at least 48 hours’ time, so that I can at least try to put that time to another use. No makeup lessons generally.
However, if I must cancel a lesson due to a change in my schedule, or illness, I will make up that lesson.
Sickness: Out of consideration for each other, the families in my studio as well as for me, and in order that we can optimize the number of lessons all the students can attend during the year, everyone will make their best effort to stay healthy! Keep hands well washed after coming home from school and public places, especially at times when there are contagious illnesses going around at school, in the community or at work. Come to lessons with your hands clean and fingernails clipped.
Good hygiene, healthy diet, exercise and adequate rest will hopefully help you stay well.
But if you or your child should feel feverish, or are sneezing, coughing, nose dripping, or otherwise sick or contagious, please do NOT come to the studio!
Let me know immediately if you or your child are not well enough to come to the studio for a lesson. Stay home! Only if your child is strong enough to either sit up or stand, we can try to have the lesson via Skype or Duo or Zoom, so that the session is not lost. The parent will observe and take notes from home like at a regular lesson. In the event your child is not well enough to sit or stand and have a lesson from home, then s/he should be in bed resting and getting better, and the lesson will pass.
Snow and/or dangerous weather conditions: On Ann Arbor’s snowiest or iciest days, roads can become impassable. We also have severe wind and rain storms, and Tree Town occasionally suffers downed trees and flooding, I will not expect you to come to the studio if there is a risk to your safety. When possible, however, we can try instead to have lessons via Skype or other platform. You may of course come to the studio if you determine that the drive from your neighborhood will be safe enough.
Having face to face software is vital, as a backup for a scheduled lesson, in case coming to the studio is impossible, whether due to illness, travels, weather conditions, or other circumstances. I use Skype, Duo and Zoom, and have used GoogleHangout in the past.I'm aware there are other platforms as well. If you prefer to use a different one be sure to familiarize me with it to see if it's compatible with my equipment. See that you are up to date and adept with at least one of these apps on your digital devices that will transmit a large, clear picture with good quality sound. You may need to have amplified speakers ready, in case the sound or reception is weak on your side.
In-studio lessons are obviously preferable and I encourage you to make your best efforts to arrive in person, but a virtual online lesson is the next best thing. I will instruct you how to set up the room and screen for the most successful online lesson experience.
Group class: Attendance is expected, and is part of the program and the learning process. Tuesday evenings are to be kept open between the hours of 6:00 and 7:00, for group class. Everyone is expected to arrive on time. Parents are encouraged to stay and observe, and there are even some activities in which parents may participate. Depending on the numbers attending, the youngest students begin each class, and more advanced students join in during the course of the hour. Everyone’s attendance is important, to the individual and to the group.
If group class is cancelled due to weather, it will not be made up.
Tuesday group class takes place in the studio generally. It occasionally will take place in another location and if so, I will notify the class of it in advance.
What do we do in group class? We learn new techniques and expand our skills, sometimes using different instruments such as drums! We polish skills we already know. We work on tone, rhythm, sight reading and conducting skills. We play music games, we improvise, we learn new group pieces, and review pieces as a group. We learn about how music is constructed, and learn to listen and to follow. Everyone gets a chance to learn to lead, and to follow. The musical games and improvisation exercises we play help us grow as musicians. We prepare for group recitals and enjoy larger group events with the Ann Arbor Suzuki Institute.
Read more about Group Classes and Studio Events, on the page titled Studio Activities.
Fees and Payment:
Payment is made in advance, either by the half semester or the full semester. The total amount is a composite number consisting of the cost per lesson times the number of weeks that lessons are offered each semester, and includes a Registration Fee comprising the A2SI annual registration, membership in Parents as Partners of the Suzuki Association of the Americas, group classes for the year, and a fee covering recital, venue and accompanist.
For new inquiries, speak to me .about the specific fees for your child. The fees are figured on an annual basis and are determined by lesson length.
Returning parents should expect that there will be a 2% adjustment of fees each year. starting in the fall.
LESSON CANCELLATION POLICY
Lessons are paid for by the semester. Students are expected to complete two semesters and to perform in both studio recitals; one in the Fall or Winter, and one in the Spring.
If a student is not sure he or she wishes to continue with lessons, they are to discuss this in depth with parents and with me, the teacher. I will schedule a private conference with the parents. Only then will a decision be made as to what course to follow. I am dedicated to each student to find what is best for their current happiness and well being, as well as their long term development, success and fulfillment. Under no circumstances will I permit a student to simply drop out.
I'm a parent of children enrolled in music lessons. I'd like to explain to other parents why I feel - quite strongly, actually - that it is unreasonable of we parents to expect our teachers to make up lessons we miss, even if I know as well as they do just how expensive lessons are, and, equally importantly, how important that weekly contact is with the teacher to keeping practicing ticking along smoothly. I think that it is natural for we parents to share the point of view that students should have their missed lessons rescheduled, but if we were to 'walk a mile' in our teachers' shoes, we might change our minds about what it is reasonable for us to expect of our teachers.
Like many parents, I pay in advance for lessons each term. In my mind, what this means is that I have reserved a regular spot in the busy schedules of my sons' teachers. I understand - fully - that if I can't make it to the lesson one week (perhaps my son is sick, or we are away on holiday, or there is some other major event at school) then we will pay for the lesson, but that my teacher is under no obligation to find another spot for me that week, or to refund me for the untaught lesson. And this is the way it should be.
In my 'other life' I am an economist and teach at our local university. Students pay good money to attend classes at the university; but if they don't come to my lecture on a Monday morning, then I am not going to turn around and deliver them a private tutorial on Tuesday afternoon. When I go to the store and buy groceries, I may purchase something that doesn't get used. Days or months later, I end up throwing it out. I don't get a refund from the grocery store for the unused merchandise. If I sign my child up for swimming lessons at the local pool, and s/he refuses to return after the first lesson, I can't get my money back. So there are lots of situations in our everyday lives where we regularly pay in advance for goods or some service, and if we end up not using what we have purchased, we have to just 'swallow our losses'. On the other hand, if I purchase an item of clothing, and get home and change my mind, I can take it back and expect either a refund or a store credit.
So why do I believe that music lessons fall into the first category of 'non-returnable merchandise', rather than into the second case of 'exchange privileges unlimited' (which I think is one of the advertising slogans of an established women's clothing store!)? Speaking now as an economist, I would claim that the reason is that items like clothing are "durable goods' - meaning, they can be returned and then resold at the original price - whereas music lessons are non-durable goods - meaning, once my Monday slot at 3:30 is gone, my son's teacher can't turn around and sell it again. The only way she would be able to give him a lesson later in the week would be if she were to give up time that she had scheduled for her own private life; and that seems pretty unreasonable - I can't think of many employees who would be thrilled if their bosses were to announce that they couldn't work from 3:30 to 4:30 this afternoon, but would they please stay until 6:30 on Thursday, because there will be work for them then!
Many teachers hesitate to refuse our request to shift lesson times (because our busy schedules do change), because unless they keep us parents happy, we will decide to take our child somewhere else for lessons (or to drop musical study), and they will lose part of their income. This is particularly true in areas with lower average income, where it can be particularly difficult to find students. So rather than telling us that 'well, actually, the only time when I'm not teaching and that you can bring your son for lesson is during the time I set aside each week to go for a long soul-cleansing walk, and I can't do that on Monday at 3:30 when you should have turned up', they agree to teach us at a time that really doesn't suit their schedule. Teachers who are 'nice' in this way often, in the long run, end up exhausted, and feeling exploited; they try to draw a line in the sand. However, too few parents ask to switch only when absolutely necessary, and too many parents want lesson times when it suits them this week, which is not the same time that suited last week. If the conflict arises because my child is in the School play, and they have their dress-rehearsal during his lesson time, then I feel that I must choose between the two activities, and if he attends the dress rehearsal my private lesson teacher doesn't owe me anything.
During May, my eldest son will be missing three lessons because he is going to accompany me on a trip to New Zealand to visit his great-grandparents. I do not expect my son's teacher to refund me for those missed lessons, or to reschedule them by 'doubling up' lessons in the weeks before or after our departure. Since there will be lots of advanced notice, I might ask her to consider preparing a special 'practice tape' for that period, or to answer my questions via e-mail, but if she doesn't have the time (the second half of April is going to be really busy for her, and she wouldn't be able to do the tape until more or less the week we left) and so has to refuse, then that's fine. I certainly don't expect her to credit me with three make-up lessons; there is no way for her to find a student to fill a three-week hole in her schedule during our absence. Instead, I hope that she will enjoy the extra hour of rest during those three weeks, and that we will all feel renewed enthusiasm when we return to lessons at the end of the trip.