H&S Conservatory Policy

Each hopeful H&S student is required to attend an audition/interview held by the teacher with whom they wish to study. Students under 18 must attend with a parent.  The purpose of the audition/interview is to assess the student’s natural ability, ear, behavior, personality, and interest in music. It is also a time for the teacher to speak with parents of younger students to assess if the parent(s) understand the expectations, discipline, and focus needed to help their child have a successful, positive experience in their music study. The audition/interview is a friendly, non-stressful process, and a necessary part of maintaining excellence at Hammer & Strings Conservatory.

For students who are admitted into H&S, lessons are held weekly throughout the year with the exception of H&S breaks or holidays.  Lessons are taught in time slots of 1 hour, 45 minutes, or 30 minutes. Lesson length is determined by the teacher, not the student or parent.  

A studio calendar will be issued each semester listing the schedule for all lessons, studio classes, master classes, recitals, and vacation weeks throughout the year.

All students should have a three-ring binder at each lesson. This will serve as a lesson log for weekly assignments. Students should also have some sort of bag designated as their “music bag” to keep all of their materials, books, flash cards, and papers organized and together at all times.  Students must also have a metronome at home as it functions as a crucial part of practicing. Piano students must have an acoustic instrument. While electric pianos and keyboards have many useful functions, the serious study of classical piano is not one of them. H&S is more than happy to assist families in finding a suitable acoustic instrument should the need arise. Please just ask, and we will do all that we can to assist you in this pursuit.

Teachers will sometimes purchase lesson materials for students. They will notify the students (or parents of young students) when material purchases are made.  Students or parents will reimburse teachers for the cost of the materials through the automatic withdrawal system with the normal tuition payment the following month.

Students are required to record each lesson. This can be audio or video recording. This eliminates confusion in the practice session, allows students to hear and assess their own playing, and also allows parents of older students who no longer attend each lesson to monitor progress and tasks.

Schedule Conflicts, Missed Lessons, & Tardiness

H&S does not provide make-up lessons for student scheduling conflicts or illnesses. Individual teachers will provide one Saturday make-up group class per semester. Anyone who misses a lesson may attend the make-up group class on the scheduled date. There are no make-ups for missed studio or master classes.  

Much like missing swim practice, soccer practice, or dance classes, if a student does not show up to a lesson/master class for whatever reason, they forfeit that lesson/master class. If family vacations or trips conflict with a certain week in the month, please plan ahead and make arrangements to swap with another student for that week. If you have an extended vacation planned during the H&S season, please notify the teacher as soon as possible. With advanced notice, sometimes arrangements for extended absences can be made. Absences without notice will not be refunded or made-up.

Students arriving late to lessons will be given only the remaining duration of their lesson time.

Teacher Cancellations and Make-ups

The H&S teaching staff may cancel lessons under any circumstance. Although this will be rare, it will happen occasionally. Teachers will work with students or parents to arrange make-up lessons for those weeks.

Lessons cancelled by the teacher can be made up in any one of the following ways:

  1. Extra time given at private lessons or master classes

  2. Time spent attending competitions and festivals for that student

  3. Make-up group lessons.

Students may also be taught by a substitute teacher in the case of a teacher absence. All necessary effort will be made to notify parents about the change before the students arrive at the lesson, but there may be times where notice may not be possible.

Discontinuing Lessons

30 days written notice is required if a student decides to discontinue lessons. Notice should be given to the conservatory in person or by email.

Parents Attending Lessons

Parents are asked to attend lessons of younger students (age is at the discretion of the private teacher), and at times may be asked to attend lessons with older students as well. The teacher will often times speak to the parent immediately following their child’s lesson to inform them of how they are doing, and to clarify the expectations for the coming week. If a student is not progressing satisfactorily, the teacher may ask the parent to attend lessons more regularly until progress begins to improve. Parents should take detailed notes of the lesson, and see to it that all assignments are completed during the following week.    

Siblings/Friends Attending Lessons

Friends may not attend lessons for any reason. This is a major distraction for students. Parents who have multiple children taking lessons in consecutive time slots may have one other sibling present during the lesson. That sibling is expected to be on their best behavior, and must either read quietly, or work on theory assignments or activities. The computer in the reception area is open for students to work on theory/theory games. The receptionist can assist with computer related questions.

Punctuality and Responsibility

Students must arrive on time to their lessons and must be picked up on time. Students should bring all of the required materials (including music books, theory books, flashcards, and lesson log) to every lesson. It is a major inconvenience when students forget any of their materials. Please make sure the music bag is packed thoroughly before coming to each lesson. Parents of young children should oversee the packing of music bags prior to lessons.

Lesson Preparation

Students should be prepared physically and mentally before entering the studio for their weekly lessons. When students enter a music lesson out of breath, disheveled, and sweaty from playing outside or on the playground, it makes it extremely difficult for them to settle down and focus in on the task at hand. Students should arrive at their lesson room having already used the restroom, had their drink of water, and hands washed and clean so their lesson can begin right away. They should enter the studio calm, well-practiced, well-fed, warmed-up, and ready to be taught at a high level.  

Conservatory Rules

Please don’t bring ill students to the studio. If a student shows up to their lesson ill, the teacher may send them home without a lesson. These policies serve as a health protection for the H&S teachers and students, as they are teaching several students/families each week. Some teachers are equipped to offer a skype lesson for students who are too ill to have a lesson in person (cough, very runny note, bad allergies, etc) but are still well enough to have a lesson online. Please check with your individual teacher.

Nails should be trimmed short for any instrumentalist.

Food, drink, and gum are not allowed in lessons. Covered water bottles are acceptable and encouraged. Please do all possible to limit the need to use the restroom during lesson time. It is a major disruption to the flow of the lesson. Try to remember to use it before you enter the studio.


Recitals are mandatory and will occur several times per year. Depending on the venue, there may be a small fee charged for each student participating. A studio calendar with these details will be issued each year.


Based on each student’s progress, the teacher will recommend participating in additional events such as competitions or festivals. These performance opportunities are strongly encouraged, and will be introduced on an individual basis. The student or student’s parents are responsible to pay any registration fees for competitions or festivals.

Often times there are numerous performance opportunities offered through the East Valley Music Teachers Association (EVMTA). These opportunities are usually not evaluated and provide fun and beneficial ways to share talent across the community. All students will be encouraged to participate in these events as they come up, and as the students have pieces that are performance ready.

Practice Expectations

Students are expected to come to each lesson with all assignments completed. They are required to fill out a daily practice log. This written log is their “ticket” into their lesson. It is generally expected that students practice six days per week. A regular daily practice schedule will ensure long-lasting habits and steady progress. The teacher will suggest the amount that each student should practice depending on their level and capabilities. Parents are expected to provide a quiet, focused atmosphere for their child. Parents should also monitor practicing and see that assignments are completed. If the student is obviously not prepared for their lesson, the teacher may excuse them from the lesson.  

Piano Practicing Time Estimations: A “reality check” for students desiring quick and continuous success:

This chart shows the trajectory of realistic practice expectations for a student who is hoping to study music in college. We realize that not all students will want to pursue music in college, but this is the standard that will be used when deciding on adjustments and time expectations for each student and their goals. Each case will be handled personally.

Ages 5-6: Begin with 30 minutes daily, increase to 45.

Ages 7-8: Increase to 1 hour daily

Ages 9-10: Increase to 1 ½ - 2 hours daily

Ages 11-13: Increase to 2-3 hours daily

Ages 14-18: Increase to 3-4 hours daily

Collegiate: 4-6 hours daily, depending on repertoire

Please note that this guide is for pianists only. We recognize that vocalists and some wind instruments would not follow this chart. A similar chart can be found with your individual teacher.

Student/Parent/Teacher/Administrator Relationships

The Hammer & Strings Conservatory believes in maintaining mutual respect between the student and the teacher. Teachers will work hard to develop the type of relationship with each student that will make them feel encouraged, motivated, and inspired. Open and honest communication between the teacher and the parents is essential. If conflicts occur, please be honest and courteous. Administrators are here to facilitate any questions or disagreements that may arise.  

H&S encourages parents to develop a healthy and positive relationship regarding their child’s daily practice regime. Parents should think of creative incentives and rewards for their child’s hard, consistent work. They should be cheerleaders for their children! Practicing can be tricky and frustrating for the student at times. Don’t quit or get discouraged! Tough times are such a healthy part of their developing skills and processes. They can do hard things, and when they get to the other side, the victory is so sweet. Keeping the practicing environment positive and uplifting will help with effective progress.

As mentioned in the H&S Philosophy, music education at the Hammer & Strings Conservatory is an investment of time and means that will positively impact your child for their entire lifetime. The skills of hard work, discipline, self-mastery, and focus they will be taught at H&S are priceless and far-reaching, and will benefit them in every aspect of their lives and chosen career path.      

Payment is considered a monthly tuition. Tuition payments are not on a per-lesson basis. Some months will have 3 lessons and a studio class, and some may have 2 lessons with a studio class and a recital. Some months will have 5 lessons and one studio class, and others may not have a studio class at all.  A few months will have weeks off for holidays. Regardless of the month-to-month schedule, your monthly tuition remains the sameMonthly tuition remains the same year-round regardless of scheduling conflicts, illnesses, holiday breaks, or vacations. If you have tuition related questions, please see, call, or email one of the H&S Administrators. Private teachers are focused on teaching, and are often not able to answer questions related to billing or finances.

H&S Tuition Rates

Rates are determined by the time and teacher that the student studies with. Rates for differing teachers are determined by level of education and level of teaching experience.

Form of Payment

Payments for private lessons will be made with automatic withdrawal from a bank account at the beginning of each month.  Once a student is admitted into H&S, information will be given for how to set up automatic payments online.  Cash and personal checks are not accepted for private lessons. H&S does not accept trades for services, i.e. free dental services in exchange for free piano lessons, etc. H&S also does not offer tuition discounts for families who have multiple children enrolled in the conservatory.

Students who decide to study at H&S will need to sign and return a copy of the studio policies at the time of signup, and once a year thereafter.

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