Howren Piano Studio

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Frequently Asked Questions

1. When are lessons scheduled? 
Lessons are available Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday all day long.  Some exceptions are made for Saturday mornings.


2. How often are lessons and how long?
Lessons are weekly. We meet year round with periodic breaks for holidays. Lessons range from 30-45 minutes, depending on the number of students in the class:
Private lessons are 25 minutes; Group lessons run 15 minutes per child in the class, i.e. 2 students 30 minutes, 3 students 45 minutes, etc.


3. Does the student come alone?
Parents are encouraged to stay in the lesson with the student. This allows the parent the opportunity to be directly involved in the student's musical education. The parent is also there to encourage and keep the student accountable.  Should a parent wish, this program is designed to allow the attending parent to benefit from instruction as well.


4. Why do you require parents to attend their children's lessons?
The parent is a crucial component to learning to play piano.  And because of this we strongly encourage the parents to attend the lessons.  This allows the parent the opportunity to be directly involved in the student's musical education. The parent is also there to encourage and keep the student accountable.  An added bonus is that by observing the lessons and participating with the child's learning at home, the parent can choose to learn piano right alongside the student, for free!


5. Do I need to practice outside of my lessons?
In order to receive the full benefit of the program you will need to practice.  The most successful students learn their songs by playing at least 10 to 15 minutes 5 days a week.  The more you practice, the more proficient you will be.  That goes for everything in life, quite frankly.


6. How does this method compare to traditional piano lessons?
 Traditional methods insist that beginners learn to read music as the means of learning to play. This removes the natural connection between student and instrument and, commonly, it removes all the fun too.
 In fact, expecting children to read music before they've learned to play is like expecting children to read and spell before they've learned to talk.
 By teaching a playing-based approach, reading is taught more slowly and emphasis is placed on playing while introducing concepts to teach the student "how to make the piano sing, unfolding directly onto the keyboard. You will experience the pleasure and satisfaction that comes from immediately playing a huge repertoire of great-sounding music.


7. Are there classes available for my homeschool kids? What ages do you teach?
Absolutely. Homeschool parents are encouraged to enroll their children as part of their music education, as it opens the door for not only understanding of the piano, but of music writing and song structure as well. 
 Classes are available during school-day hours.


8. What ages do you teach?
Anyone from ages 6 to 106! For students younger than 6, special consideration will be made depending on the student and the level of parental assistance available.

Instruments


1. Do I have to own a piano?
You will need to practice outside of your lessons, but you don't have to go and buy an expensive piano.  It is recommended that you have an instrument at your home.  But an inexpensive keyboard will work fine.  The question below offers guidelines on what to look for in a keyboard.  If you do not have an instrument, and are unable to afford one, you may find that a friend, relative or neighbor who has an instrument, is often willing to allow you to practice on theirs.


2. What should I look for in choosing a piano or keyboard?
When choosing a piano or keyboard, budget is often an important factor.  Almost all pianos have 88 keys, and have all of the preferred benefits and features.  A local piano tuner can provide valuable advice, and can often assist when considering purchasing a used instrument. 

When choosing an electronic keyboard, there are certain features to look for.  The more features, the more the cost.  Use the following guidelines (in order of importance)
     * Minimum of 61 regular-sized keys
    * If affordable, an 88-key digital piano or keyboard would be ideal
    * A sustain pedal (not a sustain 'button')
    * Touch sensitive keys
    * Weighted keys


Studio Polices


1. Is there a certain commitment required after I sign up for lessons?
Yes, there are requirements to be a part of the studio. These are discussed in detail at the information sessions; however, ultimately, one of the most important (if not THE most critical) is to have the time available and the focus needed to devote to learning to play piano.
You may also check out the Studio Policies page.

Playing-Based vs. Traditional


1. What if I have already taken piano? Why switch to playing-based?
The traditional approach to piano generally limits students to reading music only, most often classical. 

In my studio, students start playing blues, contemporary, and classical from the very first lessons. They also learn accompaniment, which includes learning how to play most contemporary chords: major, minor, 7th, major 7th, minor 7th, augmented, diminished, 2nd, 6th, 11th, 13th and split chords. This opens the door to being able to play virtually any song: pop, country, Christian, blues, etc.
 In addition, students learn how to compose and improvise, becoming self-generating musicians, as opposed to the more receptive skill of purely reading. They learn strategies on how to see different patterns and shapes in music, and how to map those onto the keyboard.  We don't need a map to drive to school, or to church or to Wal-Mart. So why do we only rely on the page in front of us to play music?  Instead, we treat music the same way: We map it onto the keyboard, much like we map out on the road when we're driving. This results in a deeper, more thorough understanding of a song (as opposed to purely memorizing). Reading music is certainly a crucial part of becoming a musician as well.  Ms. Joy presents reading in an extremely natural way.


2. What are shared lessons and why do you offer these in addition to private lessons?
Shared lessons have between 3 and 8 students learning together. Below are just some of the benefits students experience learning with others
 * Traditionally, piano lessons are a very solitary experience ? students come to lessons on their own, and then go home and practice on their own. Yet music is to be shared. The shared lessons allow for and encourage this.
 * Students get comfortable playing in front of others, even when they don't have a song down perfectly, or something is still in the process of being learned.
 * Most things we learn to do in life, we learn with others.
 * Shared lessons allow for multi-faceted learning.  Not only does the student learn from the teacher through auditory, visual, and tactual instruction, but from observation of other students as well.
 * Private lessons can be a little intimidating ? the student has to come up with all the answers on their own for the whole lesson ? this means they can be nervous for the whole lesson. In the case of shared lessons, the students get a chance to sit back and observe, allowing them to be in a relaxed state and just take in what they are watching. The students take turns at being the volunteer at the piano. The students are not nervous when they are observing.
 * Shared lessons are very dynamic, interactive and fun. There is an energy present in the room when students work together!
A variety of techniques are used that appeal to all learning styles.  One of the most important of these is observatory learning.  This occurs when students are able to process information while watching and interacting with other students.  In shared lessons we do a variety of activities that just aren't possible in a private lesson envronment including mentor groups, peer-to-peer teaching and ensemble playing.  A shared lesson is more fun and more energetic than a private lesson.  And often students progress through the program faster in a group environment than they do on their own.  Traditionally, piano lessons have been a solitary experience.  Group lessons actually increase the success of the student.

* Shared lessons are also considerably less money for the parents.


3. Is this a good program for homeschoolers?
Absolutely.  Matter of fact, our approach is the closest thing to a homeschool environment that you can get in music instruction.
Students are placed together in groups of varying ages and receive hands-on instruction which opens the door to imagination, improvisation, and composition.
Ms. Joy actually began teaching Simply Music to her children while homeschooling them.


4. Is this a good program for people with disabilities?
Yes.  Especially those with dyslexia and attention deficit, as the instruction is laid out on the keyboard in a hands-on fashion, not in a reading fashion.


5. Is this a good program for adults?
Absolutely.  Even if you have never had any music instruction in your life, you have the opportunity to learn how to play the piano or keyboard from your very first lessons using mature-sounding songs which are easily obtained.  Please see testimonials for confirmation of this.


6. How does this method compare to traditional piano lessons?
Traditional methods insist that beginners learn to read music as the means of learning to play.  This removes the natural connection between student and instrument and, commonly, it removes all the fun too.
In fact, expecting children to read music before they've learned to play is like expecting children to read and spell before they've learned to talk.
By teaching a playing-based approach, reading is taught more slowly and emphasis is placed on playing while introducing concepts to teach the student "how to make the piano sing, unfolding directly onto the keyboard.  You will experience the pleasure and satisfaction that comes from immediately playing a huge repertoire of great-sounding music.


Associated Costs


1. What is the cost involved? 
Lessons are $110 per month for private and $85 per month for group; excluding materials.