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.
- As much as possible, 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.
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. I may be reached through Evernote work chat or by email, text or phone.Additionally, if there are any recent or on-going situations that may affect your child’s emotional state or preparedness in the lesson, letting me know before the lesson is very helpful. A quick text about the situation can make a big difference.
Performances and Other Activities
Each year I hold two recitals, a Christmas Recital in December and a Spring Recital in May. I will also have group classes throughout the year. Students are expected to perform in both recitals and to attend 4 group classes in each of the Fall & Spring semesters. You will have a variety of group class dates to choose from. Students who do not attend the recitals and/or group classes will not be dropped, but I ask that you make attendance of these events a high priority.
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. Only the Music Theory Test is required (with few exceptions), but all students are encouraged to participate in at least one other event each semester.
It is strongly encouraged that students have an acoustic piano at home. Some keyboards can work okay, and a good keyboard is better than a bad piano, 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.For the pros & cons of pianos & keyboards, please go to the Pianos & Keyboards page.
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. Checks or money orders should be make payable to Kevin Guess
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 the Fall & Spring semester are pre-scheduled Make-up Days for lessons that I miss. For the 2018-2019 year, the Fall Make-up Days are Dec. 17-22, 2018 and the Spring Make-up Days are May 20-25, 2019. Make-up Days work as follows:
If I cancel a student’s lesson, that lesson will be automatically scheduled at the student’s regular weekly time during that semester’s Make-up Days. For example, if Mary has lessons at 6:00 PM on Tuesdays and I cancel one of her lessons during the Fall semester, that lesson will be rescheduled for 6:00 PM on Tuesday, Dec. 18, 2018. If I cancel another of her lessons during the Spring semester, that lesson will be rescheduled for 6:00 PM on Tuesday, May 21, 2019. These make-up lessons are subject to the same cancelation policies as regular lessons.
To help accommodate an occasional unavoidable change in student’s schedules, the following options are available:
- Swapping – Students may swap lesson times with other students if the other student is agreeable. Is the responsibility of the student or student’s parent to contact the other student or parent to suggest a swap. Contact me for contact information if needed.
- Make-up – It may be possible to arrange a make-up lesson when the lesson was canceled by a student 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). If the reason is foreseeable (such as a pre-scheduled concert, soccer game, etc.), I must be give at least 24 hours notice. If I have a suitable make-up time, I will offer that time at my discretion.
- 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). Students and/or their parents may also 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 group 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 on the student’s behalf 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
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 and the amount of tuition you have paid at that time. I will provide you with a spreadsheet showing how I arrived at this amount. Since the amount is pro-rated, the amount you have paid vs the cost of the lessons received is rarely the same at any point during the year. Generally, earlier in the year you may be due a refund while later in the year you may have an amount owed.
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 dismiss a student. Before resorting to dismissal, I will make every attempt to address any of the above issues satisfactorily.
I use a cross-platform app called Evernote in my studio for assignments and other things. 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 (smart phone, pad, laptop computer). 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. Thank you!