Piano And Guitar Lessons  



Lessons For All Ages

Student Examples - piano-recital.html

Don Hodell Chilcote  


Don Hodell Chilcote

DHC Music Studio Keys4kids@aol.com www.88keys4kids.com

Dear Parents and Students,
Welcome! This is my music teaching policy and description,

Goal: To educate students how to perform on a musical instrument, encourage singing, reading and
understanding music notation, express themselves creatively, by building skills which fortify music
proficiency, and coordinate movement and graceful facility. You will find out soon that one of my
great joys is nurturing each students unique musical discovery and journey.

Tuition: $25 per lesson / 30 min

Monthly rates
$96 – 30 min x 4 ($24 a lesson) - 1 students
$141 – 45min x4 ($23.50 a lesson) - 1.5
$184 – 60x4 or 30,30 x 4) ($23 a lesson) - 2
$225 – 30,30,15 x 4 ($22.50 a lesson) - 2.5
$264 – 30,30,30 x 4 ($22 a lesson) - 3
$301 - 30,30,30,15 x 4 ($21.50 a lesson) - 3.5
$336 - 30,30,30,30 x 4 ($21 a lesson) - 4
$369 - 30,30,30,30,15 x 4 ($20.50 a lesson) - 4.5
$400 - 30,30,30,30,30 x 4 ($20 a lesson) - 5

4 lessons per month

Payment is due at last lesson of the previous month for the next month. Late fees of $10 are due
after the 6th of the month. Books will be obtained by the teacher, and students must reimburse.
I teach every week for continuity of lessons.

Discipline: To all things in moderation. I request a minimum of 25-40 minutes a day practicing.
A single parent is allowed to attend the lesson, Practicing at home should be in a quiet environment, plenty of light, and pleasant conditions. Weekly lessons are taught for continuity, and I request no disturbances during

Playing Opportunities: Recitals, Guild, OMTA, etc.
A couple times a year, we share music with each other, so it can be a part of the students’ lives.
This usually involves a December and June recital.

Additional Lesson Times:
No makeups. No Weekly Reschedulings.
It may be possible, but not expected to find additional time, and reschedule a lesson, due to
illness, at the convenience of the teacher, and only 1 per every 6 months. Lessons missed by the
teacher will be notified. I do not pro-rate or rollover monthly lesson fees. I do not prorate
monthly discounts, nor involve a third time for a makeup. I am not able to teach before 2 pm due
another jobs, and work 3 different jobs, 7 days a week.

Year Schedule: I teach on every day except:

I generally follow a U.S. Holiday and Public/ Private school calendar, and these days are holidays,
and are unable to be rescheduled:
Labor Day, Thanksgiving,
Christmas, New Years, Presidents Day
Memorial Day, Independence Day

Commitment: I ask for a dedication toward learning, and I teach piano continuously throughout the
year. Students must pay, and take at least of the lessons over the summer, so that knowledge is
not lost, or potentially forfeit their lesson time.

Background: I have a masters in music from the Ohio state university. I direct Grace Tabernacle
Baptist Church's music program, I also sing in Western Reserve Chorale, and Choral Arts. I am
very knowledgable in studio recording and composition, and have recordings on itunes and music
scores at sheetmusicplus. (OVER)

Practicing: Bring your spiral notebook to lesson as
a journal. Short productive periods of time for practice, with a quiet background are suggested.
I never practice more than 45 to 75 minutes without a break, but practice several times within
each day. Maintaining correct posture during practicing is essential. I prefer an acoustic wood
real piano or a weighted key keyboard (casio, privia), to practice on in order to build finger
strength. I also prefer an acoustic guitar to build finger strength, full size or
3/4 size dreadnought, and not electric.

Outlook: This policy facilitates an understanding between parents, students, and teacher expressing
that I love teaching and learning, and I am only interested in maximizing the amount of time to
communicate quality teaching, and facilitate playing quality literature. Music can be rewarding and
an outlet, but also very challenging.

Solicitation: I never answer phone, or communicate on it during lesson. Please leave a message, or
text on my cell phone, if it is urgent at 614-325-0873. As I work a couple different jobs, and
ensembles, and 7 days a week, I may be unable to respond last minute, and multiple texts and
messages, especially while driving. I always try my best to return inquiries. Bring friends to
recitals, but not to lessons. Referrals are welcome and rewarded.

Liability: By reading and signing this form, you have relinquished the music teacher from
all liability during lessons. I am dedicated to see the student safely cared for and picked up
after lessons. I teach both in students houses and at my home in Cleveland Heights.

Closing: Music study is unique in that the tuition you pay reserves a time for the student, which
can not be reused or resold. If you withdraw from the studio, you need to give 5 weeks paid
written notice for lessons and books. I ask that you continue lessons through each school year,
as it is nearly impossible to find another student in the middle of the year.
Please acknowledging the intent of this policy, by
signing it and return it to me. Thank You.

Piano Tuners
Gerry Paluck - 216-346-9308
Bob Bergantino – 440-942-4425
Alan Nemeth – 216-228-0303
Stephen Kabat – 216-381-5662

Piano Movers
Allied - 216-761-4059
A thru Z - 216-642-9577

Piano Dealers
Classic Piano - 216-831-1600
Bill Kap - 216-541-4177
Mattlin - 800-356-0437

Books – Brick and Mortar stores
Motter (Mayfield) - 440-442-7470
Sam Ash (Mayfield) – 440-446-0850
Guitar Center (Mayfield) – 440-461-0300
Skyline (Westlake) – 440-871-4140

Books – online ordering www.stantons.com www.musictime.com www.sheetmusicplus.com
Books – Instant Music Downloads www.musicnotes.com www.amazon.com sheetmusicplus.com
Musical Instruments and Equipment www.sweetwater.com www.musiciansfriend.com www.newegg.com

Don Hodell Chilcote

(614) 325-0873






DON HODELL CHILCOTE,  keys4kids@aol.com,  www.88keys4kids.com




Address -

Cell Phone - 614-325-0873, Email - Keys4kids@aol.com, Website www.88keys4kids.com

Goal: To educate and perform music uplifting people and communities.


Ohio State University 2006 Masters in Music Composition. Thesis on Sacred and Chamber

Performance, Musicology, Theory, Jazz, History, Black Studies, Composition, Electronic

Cleveland Institute of Music 1992-1994 Piano Performance Studies

University of Rochester 1992 Bachelors of Arts in Biology, Minor in Music, Minor in Business

University School - Preparatory High School


Performance and Publication Experience:

Sheetmusicplus - Over 120 compositions available

Itunes and Youtube - 100's of tracks for sale,

Western Reserve Chorale - Chorale Arts - Cleveland School Of The Arts - Cleveland Institute Of Music

Community Choirs

Grace Tabernacle Baptist Church 2009-2015 - Pianist, Guitarist, Arranger, Transcriber, Director

Church of The Saviour United Methodist 2009-2010 - Keyboardist

East Columbus Christian Church 2001- 2008

Pianist, Organist, Choir Accompanist, Praise Team Director, Guitarist

Hilliard Presbyterian Church - 2006-2007

Choral Accompanist, Pianist, Service Leader

Asbury United Methodist Church 2004

Choir Accompanist, Guitarist, Pianist, Organist

New Hope Reformed Church 1997-2000

Guitarist, Pianist

The United Christian Center at Ohio State University 1995-1999

Pianist, Lively faith discussions


Teaching Experience

Independent Piano Teacher 1995-2015

Cleveland and Columbus, Ohio Private Piano and Guitar Teacher

Academy of the Arts 2005 2006, Harmony Studios 2001-2004, Worthington Music Studios 1995-1998

Piano and Guitar Teacher, individual and group lessons.


Retail and Customer Service Experience

Lentines Music 1994 - Sold Musical Equipment in a retail music store.

Coconuts Music 1992-1994 - Opened and closed a music store. Managed people and inventory..


Computer Experience

Verizon Technical Support Service, Information Technology Help support,

Personal PC Computer builder, extensive music studio experience

Professional Societies

Cleveland Piano Teachers - 2011

Ohio Music Teachers Association 2003-2011, conferences and seminars.

National Piano Guild 1997-2004, student performance evaluations

Building Bridges 2005, 2007 Mural collaboration, and Interfaith Concerts.

Society of Composers Inc at OSU 1995-1999 Concerts and Original Music Compositions

Appalachian Service Project 2000, supporting communities in need of Christian support.

Habitat for Humanity 1999-2001, supporting families devastated by poverty.

Youth for Christ 2001-2004, supporting individuals building morals and ethics in young kids.


3 years Sales, and Management Experience at Coconuts Music Store, and Lentine’s Music Stores in Cleveland, Ohio

Customer Service Skills and Management skills. – 1992-1994

17 Years Piano Performance Experience – Recitals, Entertainment.

References, Transcripts, and Compact Disks are available upon request.


Computer Applications and Systems Experience, Consultancy and Research Skills:

CallTech Communications – Verizon DSL Technical Support Team – 2003.

IT tech Consultancy / Music Studio Operator / Wexner Center IT Support – 1996 - 2004

Excellent Hardware Knowledge: SCSI, Bios setup, IRQ, Raid setups, Video, Partitioning, Troubleshooting.

            CD-R Audio mastering, Networking, Webmastering Skills, RealAudio Broadcasts, Ftp, Imaging and Backups.

Musicology, and Library Research Skills at OSU, OhioLink.

Applications Experience: Win 98se, 2000, XP, Office, Word, Frontpage, Photoshop, Premiere, Sonar, Sound Forge,

Wavelab, Finale, Gigasampler, DriveImage, Quicken, MovieFactory, Smart FTP, CD & DVD production.

Scholarly Studies:

The Ohio State University - Masters In Music Composition - Currently Pursuing.  GPA / 3.5. Currently writing Thesis.

Undergraduate – GPA / 3.8 – Coursework completed equaling an undergraduate Music BA degree.

Studies in Music Composition, Counterpoint, Orchestration, Electronic Music, Piano Performance,

Jazz Piano & Improvisation - Thomas Wells, Jan Radzynski, Nelson Harper, Hank Marr, Pharez Whitted, Jim Masters, Derek Descenzo.

Performance experience in OSU Jazz Combos / Big Band – Ted McDaniels - 1995

Master Class Seminar Educator in Emerging Technologies, Midi, Digital Recording, Sound Design.

Professional Music Composer and Arranger.

 Professional Societies / Philanthropy:

The United Christian Center, Composers' Workshop Concert, Society of Composers, Project of Hope,

Youth For Christ, Appalachian Service Project, Habitat for Humanity.

References and Transcripts Available upon request.

Thank you for your time and interest.

Bio and Flyer

Don offers piano lessons to students of all ages. He has taught piano privately since 1994, is an active performer, and is presently a Graduate student at the Ohio State University completing his thesis for a Masters of Music in Composition.

He has performed in jazz quartets, rock bands, The OSU Jazz Ensemble, and religious praise and choir ensembles. He has studied electronic music, counterpoint, musicology, and piano performance. He has an undergraduate degree in Music and Biology, and a minor in business. He is currently a Pianist, Organist, and Praise leader at Grace Tabernacle Baptist Church in Cleveland, Ohio. He has written over 120 arrangements on sacred hymns, and performs as a solo pianist in the Cleveland Area.

Don’s focus is in teaching students to be self sufficient in reading piano literature. He builds the skill necessary so that his pianists can read music over their entire lifetime, and enjoy this art. He gives student recitals 2-4 times a year, so that students can grow, and have an opportunity to perform often. He participates in the Piano Guild each year, and actively himself gives recitals to further the piano recital tradition. He has written solo piano music, small chamber music suites, big band charts, and abstract compositions. He enjoys emerging technologies and how they can help composers, and educators become better at connecting with the public.

He operates a personal music studio, and has extensive knowledge of audio and midi recording. He has recorded numerous cds of piano music in the areas of sacred, classical, Christmas, jazz, and original compositions. He would like to score for film, and uses Gigasampler to score and realize composition and continue working toward this goal. He teaches all ages, and prefers using well received materials in popular, classical, jazz, and sacred materials.

with Don Hodell Chilcote

• For all ages, traditional Individual Piano lessons
• Dedicated, encouraging, and enthusiastic teacher
• Positive, individualized instruction
• Great literature including Jazz, Classical and Sacred
• Over 10 years experience teaching piano lessons
• Church Accompanist and Organist


Don Chilcote - 614-325-0873

Please feel free to observe lessons.
Schedule an appointment.

Don Hodell Chilcote offers piano lessons to students of all ages.  He has taught piano privately since 1994, is an active performer, and is presently a Graduate student at the Ohio State University completing his thesis for a Masters of Music in Composition.

He has performed in jazz quartets, rock bands, The OSU Jazz Ensemble, and religious praise and choir ensembles.  He has studied electronic music, counterpoint, composition, , musicology, and piano performance.  He has an undergraduate degree in Music and Biology, and a minor in business.  He is currently a Pianist, Organist, and Praise leader at Asbury United Methodist Church South.  He has written with over 60 arrangements on sacred hymns, and performs as a solo pianist in the Columbus Area.

Don’s focus is in teaching students to be self sufficient in reading piano literature.  He builds the skill necessary so that his pianists can read music over their entire lifetime, and enjoy this art.  He gives student recitals 2-4 times a year, so that students can grow, and have an opportunity to perform often. He participates in the Piano Guild each year, and actively himself gives recitals to further the piano recital tradition. He has written solo piano music, small chamber music suites, big band charts, and abstract compositions.  He enjoys emerging technologies and how they can help composers, and educators become better at connecting with the public.

He operates a personal music studio, and has extensive knowledge of audio and midi recording.  He has recorded numerous cds of piano music in the areas of sacred, classical, Christmas, jazz, and original compositions.  He would like to score for film, and uses Gigasampler to score and realize his compositions and continue working toward this goal.  He teaches all ages, and prefers using well received materials in popular, classical, jazz, and sacred materials.



PIANO and Guitar  

Don Hodell Chilcote


Don Chilcote - 325-0873       



Please feel free to observe lessons.      


  Sample Piano Recital Notification

 Announcing a Piano Recital !!!    

This is a major recital events!  Please invite everyone you know, Relatives, friends, neighbors….This place can seat 200 + people, yet you can be heard clearly!! Students will be playing on a 7 foot Yamaha Conservatory level Grand Piano. Not to be missed, please be in attendance.  The students have worked hard since the last recital in June, and deserve to be heard.  Please applaud their work, and support their efforts.  DHC is also planning to play some major pieces.  All parties are working hard so please look forward to this, be in attendance, and practice hard.

Some letters from piano students, teachers, and parents from around the U.S.

A piano students’ parents and the reality of piano lessons. 


Make-up Music Lesson from an Economist's Point of View

I'm a parent of children enrolled in Suzuki music lessons.  I'd like to explain to other parents why I feel - quite strongly, actually - that it is unreasonable of we parents to expect our teachers to make up lessons we miss, even if I know as well as they do just how expensive lessons are, and, equally importantly, how important that weekly contact is with the teacher to keeping practicing ticking along smoothly.  I think that it is natural for we parents to share the point of view that students should have their missed lessons rescheduled, but if we were to 'walk a mile' in our teachers' shoes, we might change our minds about what it is reasonable for us to expect of our teachers.

Like many parents, I pay in advance for lessons each term.  In my mind, what this means is that I have reserved a regular spot in the busy schedules of my sons' teachers.  I understand - fully - that if I can't make it to the lesson one week (perhaps my son is sick, or we are away on holiday, or there is some other major event at school) then we will pay for the lesson, but that my teacher is under no obligation to find another spot for me that week, or to refund me for the untaught lesson. And this is the way it should be.

In my 'other life' I am an economist and teach at our local university.  Students pay good money to attend classes at the university; but if they don't come to my lecture on a Monday morning, then I am not going to turn around and deliver them a private tutorial on Tuesday afternoon.  When I go to the store and buy groceries, I may purchase something that doesn't get used.  Days or months later, I end up throwing it out.  I don't get a refund from the grocery store for the unused merchandise.  If I sign my child up for swimming lessons at the local pool, and s/he refuses to return after the first lesson, I can't get my money back.  So there are lots of situations in our everyday lives where we regularly pay in advance for goods or some service, and if we end up not using what we have purchased, we have to just 'swallow our losses'.  On the other hand, if I purchase an item of clothing, and get home and change my mind, I can take it back and expect either a refund or a store credit. 

So why do I believe that music lessons fall into the first category of
'non-returnable merchandise', rather than into the second case of 'exchange privileges unlimited' (which I think is one of the advertising slogans of an established women's clothing store!)?  Speaking now as an economist, I would claim that the reason is that items like clothing are "durable goods' - meaning, they can be returned and then resold at the original price - whereas music lessons are non-durable goods - meaning, once my Monday slot at 3:30 is gone, my son's teacher can't turn around and sell it again. The only way she would be able to give him a lesson later in the week would be if she were to give up time that she had scheduled for her own private life; and that seems pretty unreasonable - I can't think of many employees who would be thrilled if their bosses were to announce that they couldn't work from 3:30 to 4:30 this afternoon, but would they please stay until 6:30 on Thursday, because there will be work for them then!

Many teachers hesitate to refuse our request to shift lesson times (because our busy schedules *do* change), because unless they keep us parents happy, we will decide to take our child somewhere else for lessons (or to drop musical study), and they will lose part of their income.  This is particularly true in areas with lower average income, where it can be particularly difficult to find students. So rather than telling us that 'well, actually, the only time when I'm not teaching and that you can bring your son for lesson is during the time I set aside each week to go for a long soul-cleansing walk, and I *can't* do that on Monday at 3:30 when you should have turned up', they agree to teach us at a time that really doesn't suit their schedule.  Teachers who are 'nice' in this way often, in the long run, end up exhausted, and feeling exploited; they try to draw a line in the sand.  However,  too few parents ask to switch only when absolutely necessary, and too many parents want lesson times when it suits them this week, which is not the same time that suited last week.  The only time that I would feel entitled to discuss shifting a lesson time is if the reason I can't make the lesson is because (i) I have to do something for the Suzuki school and the only time at which that other event can happen is during my lesson time; (ii) my teacher were to ask us to participate in some other activity (e.g., orchestra, etc.) and that other activity were to create the conflict.  If the conflict arises because my child is in the School play, and they have their dress-rehearsal during his lesson time, then I feel that I must choose between the two activities, and if he attends the dress rehearsal my private lesson teacher doesn't owe me anything.

During May, my eldest son will be missing three lessons because he is going to
 accompany me on a trip to New Zealand to visit his great-grandparents.  I do not expect my son's teacher to refund me for those missed lessons, or to reschedule them by 'doubling up' lessons in the weeks before or after our departure.  Since there will be lots of advanced notice, I might ask her to consider preparing a special 'practice tape' for that period, or to answer my questions via e-mail, but if she doesn't have the time (the second half of April is going to be really busy for her, and she wouldn't be able to do the tape until more or less the week we left) and so has to refuse, then that's fine. I certainly don't expect her to credit me with three make-up lessons; there is no way for her to find a student to fill a three-week hole in her schedule during our absence.  Instead, I hope that she will enjoy the extra hour of rest during those three weeks, and that we will all feel renewed enthusiasm when we return to lessons at the end of the trip.


TMTA Articles of Interest

The Evolution of the Pianist

The profile of the modern concert pianist has evolved slowly over many years.  The first pianist with a revolutionary style of playing was Beethoven, who lived from 1770 to 1827.  His playing was spellbinding, and he set a new standard for flamboyance.

Beethoven studied the music of Bach religiously (how else?).  He traveled to Vienna for lessons with Mozart, and further studied with Haydn.  But Beethoven took Bach, Mozart, and Haydn's conservative style and wrung its neck, stunning the Viennese salon crowd with a style so wild and tempestuous that it frequently ran away with him.

While playing a concert in Vienna, when Beethoven came to the first sforzando, he threw out his arms so wide that he knocked both the candles off the piano.  Two boys were then asked to hold the candles on either side of the piano, but one got just a hair too close and, at the next appearance of the fatal sforzando, he received Beethoven's backhand right in the kisser and dropped the candlestick clattering to the stage, much to the audience's merriment and Beethoven's fury. 

And then along came Franz Liszt (1811-1886).  He had it all. Handsome, dashing and romantic, he was at the same time an extraordinary composer and a pianist of such unbelievable ease and skill that many concluded that he had entered into some pact with the Devil - or perhaps, considering his unconventional lifestyle, that he was the Devil.

Liszt fascinated observers with his incredible memory.  After hearing any piano piece one time, however long or complex, he could play it back perfectly.  He also had an overwhelming personality.

Liszt was the first true concert pianist in the sense that he was the first to separate composing from playing.  Before he came along, pianists mostly played their own compositions and variations, but Liszt's recitals around Europe included not only his own music but also works by Beethoven, Schubert, and any others he deemed worthy of presenting to his hysterical admirers.

Almost single handedly, Liszt raised the status of the concert pianist from the servant-class of Mozart to that of stardom.  When Franz Liszt played, he drove his audiences to such fits of hysteria that ladies would hurl their jewels up onto the stage, shrieking and swooning 

Paderewski traveled across the United States like a monarch in his own private train.  His train was equipped not only with a bedroom and a dining room but also a salon with a grand piano!  He was always attended on his private train by a piano tuner, a butler, a chef, a physician, and, of course, his wife.  People would gather at railroad crossings just to catch a glimpse of Paderewski's railroad car gliding by.

In May 1975, Arthur Rubinstein, at 88 still one of the world's top concert pianists, played his last concert in Poland.  No sooner had the last thunderous notes sounded than the stage was flooded with a sea of carnations.  Standing, the audience cheered itself hoarse.  The orchestra rose to applaud; and up in the balcony a chorus chanted, "May he live a hundred years!"

Gary Graffman, the director of the Curtis Institute of Music, says, "You have to be born to perform.  No matter how good you are, no matter how much you want to do it or how hard you practice, some people are suited to life on stage, and some aren't."

Charisma, whatever it means, can drive audiences wild.  There is a transmission to the audience that cannot be described.  And if you happen also to play very well, then you've "got it made" as a pianist.

And so it goes.  Other young pianists, like Kissin, are now driving audiences and critics into fits of thunderous acclaim.  What is that magic that passes from performer to listener?  How does it happen and why?

In Brussels last May, 102 pianists entered the Queen Elisabeth International Music Competition.  How good are all these dedicated musicians?  This question is the subject of some debate and disagreement.  The difference between the 19th and the 20th century pianists is that technique has today been projected to a previously unheard-of perfection.

The recording industry has hugely influenced young pianists' determination to seek perfect technique at all costs because decades of flawless, note-perfect recording has led listeners to expect perfection as the norm.  But this perfection is misleading because modern recording equipment is so advanced that it is child's play for sound engineers to have a musician re-record a passage where he has hit a wrong note, and slip it into the recording.

There is too much emphasis today on technical cleanliness.  Would any of us mind a few wrong notes in the midst of a beautiful, musical outpouring from the heart?  If we play too literally, the performance can become sterile.

The obsession with technical perfection has swept away a lot of the excesses and showmanship that were commonplace in years past. Even so, in this dry-cleaned new age, one yearns at least occasionally for a pianist to move our hearts with music from the soul and to make us shriek and swoon as audiences did over Liszt, Rubinstein, and Paderewski.


TMTA Articles of Interest   

The Business of Teaching Music from an Economist's Point of View

Most music teachers can benefit from getting some perspective on the 'business' part of their work.  Fifty percent of new businesses fail within two years; the five-year failure rate is even higher.  These businesses fail for a number of reasons - not infrequently, the business plan was simply poorly thought out or nonexistent, and both lenders and owners thoroughly deserve their losses - but just as frequently it is due to failure of the owner to adopt and implement sound business practises - the owner takes it all 'too personally'.  (Interestingly, female-owned businesses have a significantly lower failure rate; the explanation appears to be that they do more market research before launching their enterprise.)

If one is to have enough emotional energy to devote to teaching, it is really crucial that the 'money' (i.e., business!) side of the work not be a constant source of angst.  My perception is that most music teachers hate having to actually charge for lessons; I suspect that most harbour secret dreams of being put on a (generous!) retainer by a benevolent patron of the arts and allowed to teach all interested children for free.  Having to actually set a price for the value of one's time - and extract it from parents - is often a traumatizing experience.

The first task, then, is to set a 'value on one's time'.  The problem is that most teachers interpret the price that they charge for half an hour of teaching time as being somewhat akin to an appraisal of their intrinsic worth as human beings, realize that it doesn't add up to much, and feel personally diminished.  But the price people pay to acquire goods or services in the marketplace is not a measure of intrinsic value; it is just a price.  It is simply a fact that consumers pay little - if anything at all - for many of the things which they value the most highly.  You pay $0 for your child's goodnight hug, or for the pleasure you derive from having a wonderful evening with friends.  I could not live without water, and yet my water bills are tiny compared with what I pay for other non-essentials.  And we all at various points in time pay large amounts of money to acquire objects to which are accorded little or no intrinsic value, but which supply some temporary amusement: pet rocks, the latest fad toy for our kids, clothes with a designer label rather than the equally appropriate knockoff, a meal in a restaurant which costs as much as the family's food bill for a week, etc.  And parents pay huge amounts of money to enroll their kids in competitive sports programs that keep them happily busy, secure in the knowledge that if Johnny is on a bus going to a hockey tournament, he can't be meeting the 'wrong sort of kid' hanging out at the mall.

So how should a teacher calculate the price to charge for their time?  The first step is to work out what sort of program you want to run, and what that entails in terms of time for teaching, and administration.  How much vacation time do you need?  How much do you need to set aside for insurance, and taxes?  For your expenditures in attending summer institutes and continuing education?  How much income do you require?  Next determine what it is going to cost students to participate in the program that you have designed...and draw a deep breath before you actually look at the figure that you have calculated: because it's probably higher than most of 'the competition' is charging.

So what happens if you charge more than the 'old lady down the street' for your piano lessons?  Will your business fail?  Not if what you are offering is better than what the competition offers.  When you buy a coffee you can go to Dunkin' Donuts, and get a coffee for 99 cents, or to Starbucks, and pay well over $3.00 for a latte.  Consuming a coffee at the donut shop is not the same experience as relaxing in a comfortable chair with a newspaper and sipping your latte; and consumers are quite willing to pay more than three times as much to enjoy the higher-quality experience.  The same is true of music lessons; I can take my children to a 17-year old who is the principal violin of the local Youth Orchestra and pay pocket-change for music lessons, or I can go to a highly-experienced teacher who charges real money.  But consumers do understand that 'if you pay peanuts, you get monkeys'; they are willing to part with serious amounts of cash to get access to a higher quality product.  If you offer a product that is better than what the competition offers, then you will have no problem finding more than enough parents to fill your studio, despite fees that are higher than the norm.

Equally important to making sure that the 'business' part of your activity does not become a burden is to ensure that you force yourself to stick to your vision of what your program will be (although it is equally important to review your vision on at least a bi-annual basis!).  And to stick to your vision requires that you arm yourself with a complete set of policies.  Having proper policies is absolutely necessary if you are to know how you are going to deal with the 'difficult cases'; otherwise, you will constantly be making up new rules to deal with the specific needs of particular individuals, your program will lose its focus, and you will have a studio of discontented parents who don't understand why you were able to reorganize your operations to meet the needs of some other parent, but you're not changing the group class date on the first week of every month to meet their needs.  This not only means having policies that require students to pay for a term of tuition, with no obligation on you to make up missed lessons, but also requires that you think about all aspects of your program.

For example, suppose that you have decided that participation in group classes is essential, and you oblige all students to pay for group classes as part of their term fee. Now a parent comes to you and explains: "Tania/Sally/Johnny is in the Ontario Provincial Soccer Team/Grade x Ballet Class/doing his bar mitzvah this year, and will have to miss group all year and can only do private lessons."  You know this child loves their instrument, and you know that the child will continue to work at their private lessons.  Do you continue to teach them privately?  Do you tell them to 'come to group classes when they can'?  Do you tell them to get another teacher for the coming year, and that they will be welcome back to your program when they can participate in group lessons?  Your policy - which reflects your vision of what your program is about - tells you how to deal with these difficult decisions, even when your heart tells you that this is 'wrong'.  The truth is that policies are wrong for particular individuals, at particular times; but they are *RIGHT FOR YOUR PROGRAM*, and that is why you enforce them.

This happens in other businesses all the time. Sears has a 'no questions asked' returns policy, and it is not infrequent that people buy, for example, a dress, take it home, wear it once, and then return it and ask for their money back. The returns staff *can tell* what has happened, but they take the merchandise back nonetheless, because the 'no questions asked' returns policy is an important part of the way in which Sears has chosen to conduct its business.

Some of you may know Carol Gilligan's book In a Different Voice 'in which she explored systematic differences in the way in which men and women responded to ethical dilemmas.  Whilst I'm greatly oversimplifying, the bottom line was that men are typically more rules-oriented, whereas women like to problem solve: if the rules don't meet the needs of the individuals involved at that particular point in time, they try to change the rules.  I like to think that this is one of the reasons for which women are such wonderful people, and often so great at the really important things in life; but it's no way to run a business.

Developing a successful music program requires vision and a financial plan that translates dreams into realities.  Having well-thought-out policies which ensure that participants in your program are following the path that you have selected, and that you are adequately compensated for your work, is of crucial importance if the 'business' side of your program is going to run itself smoothly and leave you with the emotional and intellectual energy to devote to your teaching.

 About the Author

 Vicky Barham, Ph. D., is the mother of two children who are enrolled in Suzuki music lessons in Canada.  She also teaches Economics at the University of Ottawa.  The TMTA webmasters became acquainted with Dr. Barham through the Internet and were so impressed with her sound and logical expressions about the business of music teaching that we asked permission to publish her ideas for all to share.  Her ideas are expressed in two articles on this website.  Thank you to Dr. Barham for sharing her expertise with us.    

TMTA members are invited to submit original articles of interest for web publication.  The article should not be currently under copyright by another publication.  Please submit all articles to KMTANews@aol.com.     



www.mtna.org Music Teachers National Association World Wide Web Resources
http://www.piano.avijon.com/index.html Piano Education
www.music.org The College Music Society
http://www.omea-ohio.org/ Ohio Music Education Association
http://www.amc-music.com/ American Music Conference
http://home.att.net/~francis-christmann/ The National Federation of Music Clubs
www.pianoworld.com Piano tech., resale, moving, buying, resources
www.mwsc.edu/~bhugh Piano Page w/links
www.ptg.org/ Technical info
www.musicstaff.com/university Music Schools Throughout the World
http://agocolumbus.org American Guild of Organists, Columbus Chapter
http://www.lib.utk.edu/~music/guides/piano.html University of Tennessee Libraries Piano Literature and Pedagogy Research Help
http://www.lib.ohio-state.edu/OSU_profile/Music_Lib/?Index.html Ohio State Music / Dance Library
www.Capital.edu Capital Conservatory
www.grovemusic.com The New Grove Dictionary of Music
www.oberlin.edu/library OBIS (also Ohio Link) On Line
www.universitymusic.com/other.html Printed Music Catalog Service
www.cml.lib.oh.us Columbus Metropolitan Library Online
www.lcweb.loc.gov/rr/perform/new.search.html Library of Congress Performing Arts Reading Room
www.performancepractice.com Performance Practice Encyclopedia
http://uk.cambridge.org/journals/bme/ British Journal of Music Education
http://www.music.indiana.edu/music_resources/ Internet Music Resources / Indiana Univ. School of Music
http://home.att.net/~jmzeigler/pepinfo.html Suzuki Education
http://www.ida.liu.se/~juhta/lihk/musiktermer_eng.shtml Dictionary of Musical Terms


Publishers / Editions  
www.alfredpub.com/Welcome.html Alfred Publishing Home Page
www.barenreiter.com The most scholarly editions
www.henleusa.com Henle Editions Homepage
http://www.burtnco.com/dovermusic/ Dover Music Publications
www.abrsm.ac.uk The Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music
www.presser.com The Theodore Presser Co.
www.halleonard.com Hal Leonard Online
www.carlfischer.com Carl Fischer Music Publications
http://www.oup-usa.org/ Oxford University Press
www.willismusic.com Willis Music Distributor and Publisher

Sheet Music

http://www.allegroassai.com/ Allegro Assai Sheet Music
www.sheetmusicdirect.com Download Sheet Music
www.net4music.com Download sheet music and midi files
www.musictime.com Methods and sheet music
www.stantons.com Sheet Music Specialists
http://www.activemusician.com Active Musician
www.abc-music.com/music.html Songbooks, Piano Methods, Piano Software
www.cdsheetmusic.com Order CD-ROM and get complete works
www.rainmusic.com/pianomusic/free.htm Download Sheet Music
www.amazon.com Order Books, Music, and more
www.sheetmusicplus.com Great Sheet Music Shopping
www.amazingmusicworld.com Early Music: Sheet Music Downloads
http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/smhtml/smhome.html American Sheet Music 1870-1885
http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/award97/ncdhtml/hasmhome.html Duke University Historic American Sheet Music


Teaching Aids / Resources  
http://axcis.co.uk/html/resources.html Axcis Teacher Recruitment Education Links
www.friendshiphouse.com Musical gifts, games, and teaching aids
www.musicedmarket.com Teaching materials
www.puregoldteachingtools.com Teacher resources
www.pianospot.com Piano Music/Resources
www.musicwareinc.com Music Resources
www.warehouse.com Music Software
www.erckids.com Educational Record Center
www.westmusic.com Music Instruments, Texts, and Programs
www.listen.com Choose Your Music

Music Theory / Composition

www.musictheory.com Music Theory Links
www.musictheory.halifax.ns.ca Useful Music Theory page
www.cvc-usa.com Compositions and Recordings
http://www2.nau.edu/~tas3/bachindex.html Canons and Fugues of J.S. Bach

Musical Events / News

www.wosu.org 89.7 Classical Radio
www.balletmet.org Balletmet Homepage
www.csobravo.org Columbus Symphony Orchestra
www.chicagosymphony.org Chicago Symphony
www.oberlin.edu/con/summer/bpi/ America's Premiere Baroque Institute
http://www.oregonbachfestival.com/ The Oregon Bach Festival
www.columbuschambermusic.org Columbus Chamber Music Society


Recording Labels  
www.collegiumusa.com Hanssler Classic and Collegium Records
www.hnh.com Naxos and Marco Polo Recordings
www.dacapo-records.dk Danish Classical, Contemporary, and Jazz
www.sonyclassical.com Buy CDs


http://www.uc.edu/libraries_CCM/cobbe/cobbe.asp Composer Portrait Collection
http://w3.rz-berlin.mpg.de/cmp/classmus.html Classical Music Pages
http://plato.acadiau.ca/courses/musi/callon/2233/classicc.htm Classical Era Composers (Very Informative)
www.sjsu.edu/depts/beethoven Beethoven Research Center
www.geocities.com/athens/rhodes/9533 Robert Schumann Page With Works for Piano
http://www.hyperion-records.co.uk/liszt-index.html Complete Liszt Piano Music
http://www.jsbach.net/bcs/  J.S. Bach Home Page
http://midiworld.com  Composer Sound Files
www.prs.net/midi.html Vast Collection of Classical Music Midi Files


http://www.iaje.org/iaje99/ International Association of Jazz Educators
www.apassion4jazz.net Great Jazz Site With Interactive Highlights
http://www.wnur.org/jazz/instruments/piano.html The Jazz Web

Historic Instruments

http://iberia.vassar.edu/vcl/music/text/TRvirtual.html Photos and Backgrounds of Historic Pianos
www.orgel.com/vlm Historic Organs
www.steinway.com/html/concert/postcards.html Steinway Virtual Postcards

Piano Buying/Selling

www.pianoexchange.com   Buy, Sell, Trade, or Appraise Pianos
www.mcjmar.com/pianosecrets/index.htm Informative Site For Buying a Piano


A little history of some composers