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?
Yes, but it's not recommended. 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'. That being said, we know sometimes students can't make it regularly because of work schedules etc., so we have a compromise where students can reserve specific times over the course of 1 month, but it is considered an 'irregular' schedule and will not be reserved long-term. Irregular students will have to reserve specific times again each month based on what open times there are available at time you they are asking. If another student who is able to reserve a regular schedule wants to reserve the time, they will be given preference.
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 24 hours notice and have it rescheduled or credited toward future lessons. Any cancellation with less than 24 hours 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, but are not guaranteed and students have up to 1 month from the cancelled lesson date to schedule a make-up lesson.
can i take a break and come back later?
Yes, however we don't recommend it. 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.
However, if you have to go on break, you can keep your lesson time reserved for your eventual return by pre-paying for the month you expect to be back.
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 24 hours 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 $23.00 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 $69.00, but for 5 lessons, it would be approximately $115.00.
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, we can 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 is the most effective.
After the introductory lessons, in addition to the above payment methods, online payments using Visa, MasterCard and PayPal become available as well as the ability to set up auto-pay. This allows us to process your monthly payment automatically so that you don't run the risk of losing your lesson time due to a late payment.
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. For the first 5 students you refer to us, you will receive $1.00 off your teacher's regular lesson rate permanently. Your referral must complete their introductory lessons and purchase 1 month (4 lessons) at regular price for the referral to qualify. Any more referrals than that and we might just have to hire you as a marketing manager.
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 or notify us of any dates you might be away.
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.