We're happy to answer any questions you might have, but for quicker answers, check below for our most frequently asked questions.
do you teach beginners?
Yes! We get far more beginner students than experienced ones, but all skill levels are welcome. In fact, most teachers prefer a student who has no experience because it means they haven't learned any bad habits yet.
what instrument should i start with?
In most cases, we recommend starting with piano. There are many reasons for this. One reason is that it's easy to make sound on. No buzzing or squaking, no worrying about breath control, and even if your hand position isn't perfect, no matter where you press down on the key, it will make the same sound. Another good reason is that when learning music theory, the piano is an excellent visual aid because of it's tonal range and linear design. Another excellent reason what playing the piano does for your brain. While playing piano, players are coordinating 2 hands, 2 feet, 10 fingers and the multi-tasking teaches your brain new pathways that can be used in other things besides other musical instruments like math patterns, language, reading and more.
do you offer in-home or online lessons?
No, we do not do in-home lessons. All of our lessons take place in our state of the art studios where teachers have easy access to all the tools they need to conduct their lessons in a professional manner. Students benefit from the atmosphere here where they can be inspired by other musicians. Our space is also specially designed for music education where students can avoid common distractors like dogs barking and doorbells ringing. Additionally, we've taken everyone's safety into great consideration and have surveillance cameras in each of the studios to ensure that students and teachers remain safe while they are here.
Yes, we do online lessons where necessary. Considering the ongoing Covid-19 situation, if students are not comfortable coming for in-person lessons, we can teach the lessons using Zoom, but our goal is to eventually get students back for in-person as soon as possible since in-person learning is far better. Also for accessibility, because we're on the second floor of our building and there's no elevator, if students are not able to ascend the stairs, online lessons can be provided.
do i need my own instrument?
Yes. If you don't have your own instrument, you will be unable to practice and regular practice is essential to learning any new skill, including music. We can provide instruments for purchase or for rent if needed, but whether you supply your own or get it from us, an instrument for home practice is required to be a SMArts student.
We provide pianos and drums for students to learn on at the school. These are the only instruments that do not need to be brought to each lesson. All other instruments will need to be brought to and from the lesson each week.
do i need to buy any books or accessories?
Yes, depending on the instrument. Most of the time, the teacher will recommend the use of a method book to learn from. These can be purchased separately from SMArts as needed. Other accessories, such as strings, reeds, drum sticks, etc. can also be purchased separately from SMArts and we do our best to stock the basics that you will need no matter what instrument you are learning.
do you teach students who just want to play for fun?
Yes! That's what music is for. Most of us will never be concert pianists or rock stars, but playing music makes an excellent hobby that's fun and good for mental health. That being said, our teachers are highly qualified musicians and teachers capable of helping you be concert pianists and rock stars if that's what you want to do.
what curriculum do you teach?
The answer to that depends on the instrument, but for the most part, we tailor the lessons to each individual student's needs. If this means using Suzuki, The Royal Conservatory of Music or others, then we'll do it. Different teachers have their preferences, but if you have a preference, let us know when you register, and we'll pair you up with the right teacher.
do you repair instruments?
Generally no, because we're primarily a music school, not a music store, and our focus is and always will be on the lessons, but simple repairs like replacing a broken string can be done for our registered students for no more than the cost of the replacement part. We do however have a strong network of technicians who perform work such as piano tunings, guitar setups, and more that we would be happy to direct you to.
how much should i practice?
For beginners, we normally recommend about 10-15 minutes per day. It's not cumulative if you cram it all into one day though, it's far more effective to spread it out over the week. If you didn't manage to practice at all, not to worry, come to the lesson, get inspired again and try again.
do you offer group lessons?
Before moving into the Activity Plex, we only did private lessons. Now that we're here, we have the space for group lessons, but with Covid-19 ongoing, we're holding off until it's safer. We still maintain that private lessons are the most effective, however. We recognize the social aspect that is more present in a group lesson and some students feed off that energy, which can help a student progress differently than in a private lesson. Please check back later to find out when group lessons will be available.
do you do recitals?
Since Covid-19, we have not held any recitals, but normally, we do them twice annually, approximately the end of November and the end of May. While the Covid-19 situation is ongoing, we are exploring the possibility of a form of online recital, but we are still in the process of evaluating our options.
how long and how often are lessons scheduled?
At least 30 minutes and at least once per week. We can do longer lessons or more frequent lessons if desired, but 30 minutes once per week is our standard starting point.
i can't do weekly lessons, is there any flexibility in scheduling?
No. The longer the amount of time between scheduled lessons, the more risk there is of the student developing bad habits with their practice, which makes it more difficult for the teacher to correct, and it reduces overall progress. Additionally, our teachers rely on the consistency of a weekly schedule and don't appreciate empty gaps resulting from a bi-weekly student who is on their 'off-week'.
What if i have to cancel a lesson?
We've tried very hard to strike a reasonable and fair balance between the uncertainty of life and respect for the teacher's time. Under our cancellation policy, students are able to cancel any lesson with at least 1 week's notice and have it rescheduled to another date and time. Any cancellation with less than 1 week's notice must be billed out of respect for our teachers. This includes cancellations due to inclement weather. Make-up lessons for late cancellations may be possible depending on the teacher's availability, and are provided at their sole discretion, but are not guaranteed. Students have up to 1 month from the cancelled lesson date to schedule a make-up lesson if the teacher is able to provide one while rescheduled lessons have a 3 month expiry.
can i take a break and come back later?
Yes, however we don't recommend it, and we do not hold your lesson time. When you return, we will do our best to fit you into the available space that remains open, but taking a break risks losing a reserved time. On average, it takes about half the amount of time you're on break to re-teach you what you had learned when you come back to get you back to where you were at before your break. This can be frustrating for both student and teacher, and not an effective use of time and money.
i would like to withdraw, how much notice is needed?
There are no refunds for lesson payments, but if you provide us with at least 2 weeks notice, any money in your account will either remain there until you can resume and use it for future lessons, or it can be transferred to another student such as a friend or family member.
how much do lessons cost?
All new students begin with an introductory package of 3 lessons for $49.00. After the introductory lessons, the lesson rates are determined by the individual teacher and begin at $25.00 per 30 minute lesson. Lesson fees are billed monthly based on the number of expected lessons that month, for example, if there are 3 lessons (due to occasional holidays) the cost would be approximately $75.00, but for 5 lessons, it would be approximately $125.00.
can i pay at the school before the lesson?
No. All lesson fees must be pre-paid before the lesson is even scheduled with the teacher. This avoids the risk of having a teacher scheduled for a lesson that a student does not show up for. The teacher is still owed compensation for their time, and pre-payment ensures we have the funds to cover that.
Without pre-payment, the lesson will not be scheduled, and there's a very real possibility that the teacher will not be here when you come.
how do you accept lesson fee payments?
When registering a new student, either a Visa or MasterCard is required which can be processed once a lesson time has been agreed upon and the credit card is kept on file for auto-pay for future months. We can also accept payment in person at the school by cash, debit, Visa or MasterCard, but for convenience and speed of reservation, e-transfer sent to firstname.lastname@example.org, or credit card is the most effective.
After the introductory lessons, even with auto-pay enabled, you have the option to pay for your lessons in person or online before the monthly due date if you prefer, but otherwise, auto-pay is automatically initiated on the last day of the month prior to the billing month (for example September 30th for October lessons).
will i get a tax receipt for lessons?
No. Music lessons can no longer be claimed for tax purposes.
i would like to register two students, do you offer any discountsfor multiple lessons?
Yes. As long as 2 or more members of the same household are enrolled in regular weekly lessons, there is a discount of 10% off the teacher's regular lesson rate for all applicable students. We offer a similar discount for students taking more than 30 minutes once per week.
i love my lessons and i'd like to invite a friend. Is there a referral bonus?
Yes. Every time you refer a student, both you and the student you refer will receive a SMArts gift certificate worth $25.00. This gift certificate can be used for everything we offer here except lessons and is conditional upon the referred student fully completing their registration.
i've finished my introductory lessons, how does the billing work now?
Whatever the current month is, you can pay for the remainder of the month to continue your lessons and keep your lesson time reserved. From then on, the due date for lesson fees is always the last day of the month prior to the billing month, for example October 31st is the due date for November lessons. If you are renting an instrument, the rental fees will be due along with the lesson fees. Invoices are e-mailed out between 1 to 1.5 weeks before the end of the month. Use the invoice to make sure it's been calculated correctly and to plan ahead.
i missed the payment due date. is there a late fee?
No. However, your lesson time will not be reserved or scheduled with the teacher and you run the risk of losing your time to a waitlisted student. If payment is overdue, you will be notified so that you can arrange for prompt payment.