FAQs

Here are some frequently asked questions about piano lessons. If you have additional questions, please contact Belinda.

  1. How will I know if Belinda’s Piano Studio is the right place for my child?
  2. What is included in my tuition for piano lessons?
  3. Where are lessons held?
  4. What is a good age for my child to start playing piano? 
  5. Does Belinda’s Piano Studio have recitals?  Is it a requirement that all students perform?
  6. What is covered during a lesson? Do you use any teaching methods?
  7. What is the Royal Conservatory Music Development Program? How does that compare to the Certificate of Merit tests?
  8. What is my role as a parent of a piano student?  How much should a student practice?
  9. I am looking for a piano. What are your suggestions?
  10. I have an acoustic piano but it does not sound “right” or in tune. Do you have any recommended piano tuners?

A good determining factor of good fit is whether you, as the parent, feel comfortable with and trust the teacher and whether your child looks forward to weekly piano lessons. Belinda seeks to connect with each student in his or her own individual way that encourages a personal appreciation for music and artistic creativity. Lessons are approached from a positive perspective, so your child stays interested in and inspired to play piano. Get to know more about Belinda here.

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2. What is included in my tuition for piano lessons?

Tuition covers:

  • Time spent with the student
  • Time spent planning lessons and curricula
    • Includes trips to the music store, researching and planning new curricula and books, etc. Professional music journals report that for every hour enrolled in piano lessons, you are investing in at least 2 hours of the teacher’s time!
  • Teacher’s training and experience
  • Developing appropriate incentives
  • Maintaining a good instrument
  • Organizing and preparing for studio recitals and studio classes
  • Property taxes, self-employment taxes, insurance, etc.
  • Music books and related recordings
  • Professional organization memberships
  • Engaging in professional development and continuing education
  • Other miscellaneous studio expenses, such as copying and computer software

Tuition rates are reviewed and adjusted annually according to all these factors. Contact Belinda for the most up to date rates.


3. Where are lessons held?

Lessons are only held in Belinda’s home studio. Students who are taught in their own homes tend to progress slower than students who come to Belinda’s home studio. Belinda deeply believes in and teaches by the findings of cognitive psychology, which state that individuals learn best when they have to practice retrieving information in different environments (How to Learn).

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 4. What is a good age for my child to start playing piano? 

This answer varies; most students start piano around ages 5 or 6, which is when children are beginning to learn to read and focus at school. Being able to read and focus are critical components to consider because they impact the overall ease and mindset your child has toward music and learning. When children start piano lessons too young, they may become frustrated and not enjoy piano lessons or music. On the other hand, when the learning process is easier for the child, parent, and teacher, piano and music become a more enjoyable activity with a better potential of fostering a lifelong love for music. Read more about Belinda’s Teaching Philosophy here.


5. Does Belinda’s Piano Studio have recitals?  Is it a requirement that all students perform?

Yes, Belinda’s Piano Studio has studio recitals throughout the year. Students are required to prepare for and participate in recital as this process brings up valuable learning opportunities, such as how to handle emotions and present oneself. Additionally, playing piano can often be an isolating activity, so Belinda encourages students and their families participate as much as possible during and after the recital as a way to foster community among students. Student achievements will also be recognized at studio recitals.

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6. What is covered during a lesson? Do you use any teaching methods?

For beginners, Belinda uses a variety of books and other methods to help students strengthen their note-reading skills. For non-beginners, students will be expected to master music theory, scale skills, rhythm skills, ear-training skills, and more. All of these aspects of music will be covered during lessons and applied to the pieces the students are working on in order to help students to develop a more comprehensive appreciation of piano and music. Belinda uses the Royal Conservatory of Music curriculum to teach non-beginner students and provide students with a well-rounded music education.


7. What is the Royal Conservatory Music Development Program? How does that compare to the Certificate of Merit tests?

The Royal Conservatory Music Development Program (RCM or MDP) is based out of Canada and recognized internationally as the “gold standard” for musical literacy. The RCM curriculum is well-structured and recognized as a national standard for pre-college music exams. Each level in the program requires students to play pieces from different time periods and styles and to hone their technical, aural, and music theory skills. Highly trained and certified musicians evaluate students for the RCM exams. The program is comparable to UK exam system known as Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music Graded Exams (ABRSM). You can read more about the Royal Conservatory Music Development Program here.

In California, Certificate of Merit (CM) is very popular. CM is a California-based exam that invites local music teachers to evaluate students’ performance. The format is similar to that of most other exams, in that students have to take theory exams, ear training tests, and a practical (performing) exam. However, the volunteer teachers, who are the evaluators, are not required to have had any intense training or extensive professional development so the results of CM tests are more varied compared to the RCM outcomes. CM results are not guaranteed to be recognized outside of California. You can read more about the Certificate of Merit here.


8. What is my role as a parent of a piano student?  How much should a student practice?

Parent support, especially at home, is greatly appreciated! Practicing can be tricky and frustrating at times. Keeping the experience positive and uplifting will make for much more effective experience, which means parents may need to monitor and/or use creative incentives and rewards to help their child practice effectively. Belinda can provide some tips on this, but the type of incentive varies for each child. This can be discussed during lesson time. Practicing at least 30 minutes daily and no less than 5 days a week is ideal and critical for consistent musical growth and improvement. Please read about practice expectations here.

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9. I am looking for a piano. What are your suggestions? 

There are many considerations that go into purchasing a piano. You have to decide if you want to rent or buy, then you have to consider if you want a digital or acoustic or an upright or grand piano. When feasible, Belinda personally recommends an acoustic piano and a grand piano.

Acoustic pianos allow for a wider range of dynamics and colors compared to most digital pianos. The piano keys on an acoustic piano are also naturally weighted, which means they require more hand and arm strength and weight to push down, compared to (unweighted) digital pianos. An upright piano is acceptable for students to practice on, but they tend to have a limited range of volume due to their construction and size (when compared to a baby grand piano).

Some piano companies in the area include Greene Music and Convoy Piano. They can provide you with further information regarding choosing and purchasing a piano.


10. I have an acoustic piano but it does not sound “right” or in tune. Do you have any recommended piano tuners?

You should tune your piano 2-3 times a year. The tuner I recommend is Andy of Del Mar Piano. He can provide you with a more detailed assessment of how often your piano needs to be tuned.

Have more questions? Contact us!

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