Studio Policies

Effective 8/27/2018 thru 8/25/2019

Thank you choosing me as your piano teacher! In order to make my studio run smoothly and ensure that students get the most from their studies with me, I have established the following policies. Please read carefully, as they serve both those purposes and also as the legal basis for any dispute we may have. When you have read and understood them, follow the link at the bottom of the page to download a printable Permissions & Consent form. This form should be filled out, signed and returned to me as soon as possible.  Thank you for your cooperation!

My Responsibilities

 For each student, I will aim to do the following to the best of my abilities:

  • Teach to understand music, to play the piano, and to develop general musical skills.
  • Strive in lessons to develop a good working relationship with each student, to facilitate both attentiveness & striving to do well, and, generally, to have a good time in the process.
  • And most of all, to aid in the discovery of the joy of music that I have discovered, the means to attain and expand that joy, and the opportunities that are important to success.

Student & Family Responsibilities

Students should aim to arrive at each lesson

  • On time.
  • Well-prepared (see below).
  • With any books or other  materials they will need. (It is helpful if they get a bag to put their piano books in. For some suggestions for piano bags, click here or go to the bottom of the page).

Being “well-prepared” means having engaged in daily quality practice and having completed all assignments. Understanding assignments is essential to this, so please ask questions. If there is confusion between lessons, please let me know.

Additionally, if your child has just experienced some emotional disruption that might impair his attitude or focus in the lesson, if possible let me know before arriving to the lesson, or if not upon arriving. A text or email letting me know will be of great help to me—even if I receive it just minutes before their lesson—because it can help me to avoid misinterpreting behavior or give me an opportunity to just be a caring human being for them regarding what’s troubling them.

    Performances and Other Activities

    Each year I hold two recitals, a Christmas Recital in December and a Spring Recital in May. At various times during the school year I may also hold hour long Master Classes. Dates & times of the recitals and Master Classes will be announced at the beginning of the Fall semester.

    Additionally, I belong to both the Cypress Creek Music Teachers Association (CCMTA) and the Northwest Houston Music Teachers Association (NWHMTA). Both organizations offer various performance and examination events. All students are encouraged to participate in both recitals, at least one Master Class each semester, and one or more CCMTA or NWHMTA events.

      Instrument Requirements

      It is strongly encouraged that students have an acoustic piano at home. Some keyboards can work okay, but students get the most out of studying piano by practicing on an acoustic piano. If a keyboard is chosen instead, the keyboard must be full size and have weighted keys. Very early, students will need the full range of a piano keyboard. Additionally, learning piano requires considerable strength & agility in the muscles that operate the fingers and move the hand around; the resistance of the keys due to their weight and the weight of the piano action is the primary means by which students develop that strength & agility.

      For the pros & cons of pianos & keyboards, please go to the Pianos & Keyboards page.

        Tuition

        For more details about payment of tuition and fees and what they cover, go to Tuition & Fees.

        Payments may be made monthly, or by semester. Monthly payments are due on the 1st of each month, while semester payments are due on the 1st of the first month of the semester (that is, September, January & June). In either case, payments made after the 10th of the month are considered late and will incur a $25 late fee. If paying by check or money order, please make payable to Kevin Guess.

        Lessons are given in durations of 30, 45 or 60 min. The amount of tuition is a pro-rated amount based on a full year of lessons according to a set hourly rate. This is divided into 3 semesters: Fall, Spring & Summer. Tuition ensures that I will be present to teach at least 40 weeks during the course of the full year, with 33 spread over the Fall & Spring semesters and 7 in the Summer. The monthly payment is 1/12 the total cost of the full year’s lessons. This being the case, if a student’s Summer lessons are scheduled in June & July, she will have completed her 40 lessons in July, but they will not be completely paid for until the 12th payment is made in August.

          Scheduling

          During the Fall & Spring semesters, lessons are scheduled Monday through Friday of each week except for scheduled holidays and breaks (see the Calendar page) . Each student will be given a specific time on one of those days. It may be possible to change the time during the school year, but if so, I will make a determination on a case by case basis. Summer lesson times are more flexible and students will be given a chance to choose Summer lesson times in May.

            Cancellations

            Regarding cancellations, lessons are subject to the following conditions: 

            • Any lesson that I cancel will be made up or a credit will be given.
            • No payment credit will be given for any reason for lessons missed by students.
            • Lessons missed by students are not guaranteed a make-up, but may be made up at my discretion at a time of my choosing. 
            • Lessons cancelled less than 24 hours in advance will not be considered for a make-up except for true unforeseen, unavoidable circumstances (student became sick that day, death in the family, and so on).

            The tuition paid for each student reserves an exclusive weekly time in my schedule for that student. Unlike a doctor or a hairdresser, I cannot resell that time nor can I create extra teaching time in which to give lessons.

              Making Up Lessons

              To simplify make-up lessons, the last week of each of the Fall & Spring semesters are pre-scheduled Make-Up Days. The Fall Make-up Days are scheduled for Dec. 17-22, while the Spring Make-Up Days are scheduled for May 20-25. Make-Up Days work as follows:

              • If I cancel a student’s lesson during the Fall semester, that lesson will be automatically rescheduled to the date & time of the Make-Up Day. For example, if the student’s normal lesson time is  6PM on Mondays, the lesson I canceled will be rescheduled to 6PM on Monday, Dec. 17, Likewise, if I canceled a lesson of the same student during the Spring semester, that lesson will be rescheduled to 6PM on Monday, May 20.
              • If I cancel more than 1 lesson during either the Fall or Spring semesters, that lesson will be made up or a credit will be given.
              • If the student cancels a Make-Up Day lesson, the canceled lesson will be subject to the cancellation policy under Cancellations above. 
              • Make-Up Days are only for lessons that I miss. If a Make-Up Day is not used, no lessons will take place that day. 
              To help accommodate an occasional unavoidable change in student’s schedules, the following options are available:
              • Swapping – 

              To simplify make-up lessons, the last week of each of the Fall & Spring semesters are pre-scheduledMake-up Days.The Fall Make-up Days are scheduled for Dec. 17-22, while the Spring Make-Up Days are schedule for May 20-25. Make-up Days work as follows:

              • If I cancel a student’s lesson in the Fall, that lesson will be automatically rescheduled to the date & time of the Make-up Day.
              • If I cancel more than two lessons in the Fall and Spring combined, then the additional lesson(s) will be made-up at a time agreeable to both the student and myself, or will be refunded.
              • If the student cancels a lesson on a scheduled Make-Up Day, the student will not be entitled to a further make up and the lesson will not be refunded.
              • If a make-up day is not used to make up a lesson I missed, then students normally with lessons on that day will have a holiday.

              To help accommodate an occasional unavoidable change in student’s schedules, the following options are available:

              • Swapping – Students can choose to be part of the Swap List. (Please let me know if you do not want to be included in the list.)  View my on-line calendar and if there is a student at another time during which you could come, you can contact them directly and see if they will swap. Please let me know if you have made a swap so I can plan accordingly. It’s easiest to just include me in the email or text exchange between two parents concerning a request to swap lesson times. (Note: Due to varying schedules, switching is not always possible.)
              • Make-up – It may be possible to arrange one make-up lesson per student per semester when the lesson was canceled for a legitimate reason (including being ill, having an accident, and so on, but not including forgetting about a lesson, not accounting for traffic, going on vacation, and so on). I will make a lesson up if, at my discretion, a time suitable to me is available within the current semester. Lessons a student cancels in one semester, however, cannot be made up in the next semester. Once a student has made up one lesson within a given semester, no further lessons canceled by the student during that semester will be made up (swapped lessons will not count as make-up lessons).
              • Alternatives – If a student must miss a lesson, and is not able to swap lessons or make up the lesson, a few options remain. During the scheduled time of the lesson, a lesson may be given using Skype or Facetime (see the Facetime & Skype article for information about lessons given this way), or students and/or their parents may simply contact me and discuss student progress or any issues that come up. I may be contacted by phone, Facetime/Skype or text. Finally, students may attend an extra performance class.

              Book & Events Fee

              • Rather than bill you as books are obtained or events entered, I established a Books & Event Fees Account for each student. When first beginning lessons with me, each student will deposit $50. I will maintain a ledger in a spread sheet for each student in which I will show deposits made into the student’s account, deductions for items I purchase or fees I pay for the student and the current balance. Twice a year, at the beginning of the Fall & Spring semesters, I will email each student or students’ parents a report showing deposits, expenditures and the current balance (such a report may be requested at any time). If the balance is less than $50, then I will ask you to make a deposit to bring it up to $50. Any unused amount in a given student’s account will be returned should the student discontinue lessons.

              Annual Operations Fee

              • The Annual Operations Fee of $70 covers studio maintenance, recital rental fees, office supplies, and so on. This fee is due in September of each year and is non-refundable. Students beginning lessons with me in the Spring need only pay half of the full amount, while students beginning in the Summer will pay nothing until the beginning of the Fall semester.

              Ending Lessons

              • If for any reason you must stop lessons, one month’s notice is requested. At that time, I will pro- rate the tuition for your final month to reflect the number of lessons that you have received based on the last lesson date. I will provide you with a spreadsheet showing how I arrived at this amount.

                Regrettably, I sometimes have to dismiss a student. The following are conditions that can lead to dismissal of a student:

                • Repeated failure to pay tuition on time
                • Excessive absences
                • Repeated failure to practice or complete assignments

                The first condition I believe is self-explanatory. The other two relate to both the student’s progress and welfare. As explained under Student & Family Responsibilities above, success is both very important to progress & enjoyment, and dependent on daily quality practice and completion of all assignments. Both of those are undermined, however, by excessive missing of lessons. This can lead to lack of confidence and dislike of playing the piano.

                I am reluctant to do dismiss a student. Before doing resorting to dismissal, I will make every attempt to address any of the above issues satisfactorily .

              Evernote

              I have been using a cross-platform app called Evernote for several years for assignments and other things. It has proven extremely helpful and, thus far, everyone has been able to use it without problem. Evernote is available in a free version for various desktop/laptop computers, pads and smart phones. While the free version has some limitations, none of these interfere with the way I use it, so students do not have to pay anything to use it. To use it most effectively, however, students will need to have a device they can use at the piano. Using it solely on a desktop away from the computer will work, but will be less convenient. If a student is not able to use it, for whatever reason, we will make other arrangements. You  can learn more about using Evernote in piano lessons here, and more about Evernote, in general, at their website here.

              Preferences & Consent Form

              If you or your child are having lessons this Fall, please complete and submit the Preferences & Consent Form below.