An Actually Useful

FAQ Section

I took real questions I get asked every day and answered them for you below.

Parents

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    Do you teach children younger than 8?

    Generally, I only accept children who are 8 years old and up, but I have made exceptions for younger children who show the level of maturity and responsibility necessary for lessons. Just because your child is playing around on the piano doesn’t mean they’re ready to be taught. They need to be able to sit still and focus for 60 minutes, listen to directions, read, and handle practicing each day at home,

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    What if my child doesn't like the way you teach?

    If your child does not like me or the way I teach for whatever reason, there is no obligation to stay in the studio. Just give the required 2-week notice of discontinuation and you’re free to go find a teacher better suited for your child. I will take no offense!

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    Will my child be required to perform in recitals?

    Studio recitals are a way for students to show off their hard work, learn how to work towards a set goal, and learn how to perform in front of others (which will help them in many other areas of life). I do require that all students in the studio participate in recitals, but I make them super low-key as to not add tremendous pressure. I do a backyard potluck recital in the summer and I usually do a themed recital in December where there is no outside audience-students play for only each other and me. All recitals give students the opportunity to choose their own songs and we prepare months ahead of time so it’s not so stressful!

Adults

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    Am I too old to learn the piano?

    Absolutely not! You can learn the piano at any age unlike a lot of other activities. There are plenty of advantages to learning piano later in life and it’s important for adults and even seniors to have a creative outlet in life to express themselves. I don’t teach children the same way I teach adults so rest assured that you’ll have custom lessons tailored to you and your learning style.

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    I’m slower to pick up new concepts, can I learn piano at a slower pace?

    You can learn at whatever pace you need! There’s nobody to keep up with so the speed you make progress at makes no difference at all. You’ll see that I’m a very patient person.

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    Will I be the oldest one in the studio?

    I don’t know the answer to that question since I don’t know how old you are, but what I can tell you is that half of my studio is made up of adults so you won’t be alone in your journey. I’ve taught young children all the way through seniors!

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    Will I be embarrassed being surrounded by younger students who may better than me?

    Don’t feel embarrassed. Instead, look at it as inspiration! If they can do it, so can you! Everyone starts lessons at different times so you can’t compare yourself to someone else no matter how young they may be. Everyone learns their own way at their own pace and you don’t know how long those younger students have been taking lessons for to get that good! You’ll sound just as good in time!

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    Will I be able to handle the workload you give me?

    The assignments I give during the week are always catered to your life and schedule. If I know you only have 30 minutes to practice a day, you have a very strenuous job, or a child is involved in a bunch of other activities, I will assign things accordingly. No matter what your case is, you’ll only have to practice what you’ve already gone over and learned during your lesson so there’s no reason why you wouldn’t be able to handle that!

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    What if I can't get something quick enough?

    You’re not competing with anyone or keeping up with anyone so you don’t have to learn anything “quick enough” since you’re going at your own pace! If you need some extra time to master a skill, then take it! There’s no pressure to learn anything according to a schedule and I won’t ever make you feel bad for needing more time.

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    I don’t have a lot of time to practice. Can I still make progress?

    You don’t need a lot of practice time to make progress, you just need CONSISTENT practice time. If you only have 30 minutes a day to practice, that’s completely fine, but make sure you practice every day to really cement your new skills and ensure you fully comprehend them. I’d recommend no less than 30 minutes a day since you won’t be able to get through everything you need to practice in less time than that, but practice as much as you personally can if you don’t have 30 minutes in your day. You’ll just make slower progress, that’s all. Slower progress is better than zero progress. Think about your day or your week in advance and schedule your practice time. Maybe wake up a little earlier or do it right after you get home so you don’t forget. Make it a routine!

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    I take frequent vacations, will that be a problem?

    Missing lessons frequently will hinder your progress a lot. If you know that you’re going to miss a bunch of lessons due to vacations and other commitments, then maybe this isn’t the best time or activity for you to start. Consistency is key to progress so your schedule is an important factor to consider before starting!

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    Am I learning in a group?

    No, you are never learning in a group. There are other students in the same room as you, but you are learning on your own and being taught 1-1. You learn what YOU want to learn and the person next to you is learning what they want to learn. You go at your own pace and never have to play with or in front of anyone else in your class!

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    Do I have to perform in recitals?

    I have all my students participate in recitals so that you have a clear goal to work towards, you can share your accomplishments with friends and family, and you can step outside your comfort zone! Performing in front of others will help you in many other areas of life besides piano! My studio recitals are very low-key and most of my students actually look forward to them. Each summer there is a potluck recital in the backyard and I’ve even done a movie-themed recital in an actual movie theatre! You always get to choose what you play and if you’re an adult, don’t worry, you won’t be the only adult there; half of my studio is adults!

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    I have small children and they take up most of my time and energy. Can I still make progress? Is it even worth it?

    Even if you’re a busy parent, you can still make progress. I don’t require that you make x amount of progress by x date so however long you need to complete something is always fine by me, as long as you’re still striving and working as hard as you can. Even if you can’t practice much during the week, you can still make plenty of progress in your weekly lessons as you have an entire hour to learn! Slower progress is better than no progress!

Tuition

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    If I don't like lessons can I cancel?

    I recommend giving lessons at least 4-6 months before making the call to quit. Learning a new instrument is hard and it takes time to really get used to the level of work and time you need to devote to it. You won’t be rocking out to your favorite songs right away so you need to be patient with yourself! Once you give it a few months and you find that you really hate it or you hate me for some odd reason then you can absolutely discontinue lessons once you give 2 weeks’ notice.

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    I can’t pay monthly. Can I pay you per lesson?

    Lessons are only paid monthly to ensure consistent attendance and commitment. Learning a new instrument is a luxury, not a necessity so if you don’t think you can afford lessons, then wait until you’re ready and able to do so comfortably!

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    Do you give me the lesson books?

    Yes, I will give you all the lesson books you need before your first lesson so that you are ready to go and don’t have to go searching for anything!

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    What do I need to start piano lessons?

    Firstly, you need either an acoustic piano or a digital piano with 88, fully-weighted keys and a bench with a sustain pedal. This is non-negotiable to begin lessons since you need an instrument at home for online lessons and to practice on during the week. You’ll also need your lesson books (which I’ll provide you), a pencil, an assignment notebook, and your “ready”/”question” cards (you put up one card or the other to let me know if you’re ready to be heard or if you have a question). Other than those physical things, you should also have time in your schedule to devote to lessons and practicing!

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    How much are piano lessons?

    For all information about lesson tuition, please visit the pricing page here: www.chatalbashlessons.com/pricing

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    How are payments made?

    Invoices are automatically paid on the 15th of each month by card on file or bank transfer only. This way, we can focus on making music together and you’ll never have to worry about forgetting or late fees! Easy peasy!

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    Do you give sibling discounts?

    I don’t give sibling discounts because it takes the same amount of effort and time to teach the first child as it does the second. There are customized lesson plans being made every week for both students and both students don’t learn the same. One might be older and learn faster or differently and may need a different kind of book because of their age. So a lot goes into planning and teaching these lessons and that’s why I don’t give sibling discounts.

About Lessons

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    Do I really need to do an intro lesson?
    Yes. the intro lesson allows you to come in check out the studio, get your questions answered, and take a sample lesson, so you can see if this the studio for you. It also allows me to get to know you better so I make sure you learn the music that intrests you the most. No matter what your skill level is every new student goes through an intro lesson.

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    Will I be able to contact you during the week if I have a question?
    Yes! You can contact me any time on any day during the week with any questions you may have and I’ll get back to you usually the same day. You can even send me short video clips if you’re not sure if something is right and I’ll let you know so that you’re not practicing something wrong the whole week. I’d rather you ask me sooner rather than later and have to work twice as hard to undo a bad habit.

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    Do I have to learn how to read music to play piano?
    There are plenty of people who play piano and have no idea how to read music. But just because you CAN do that doesn’t mean you SHOULD.  In my personal opinion, it’s way more beneficial to learn how to read music so that you can pull up any sheet music of any song your heart desires and be able to play it at a moment’s notice instead of having to mimic someone else to learn a song. It’s like reciting a book that you don’t know how to read so even though it takes more time to learn how to read music, it’s worth it in the long run.

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    What if I don’t come prepared to a lesson or I can’t get something right?
    You should always come prepared for your lesson. That means having your books and materials with you and being ready and able to play me the final product of what you’ve practiced all week. If for some reason you weren’t able to practice much that week, then the only person that hurts is you and your progress. We’ll spend your lesson going over the same material until you get it, no matter how long it takes.

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    How can you say you can help me reach my goals faster, aren't all piano lessons the same?
    Piano lessons certainly are not all the same. Every teacher is different and has different techniques and styles! My style is giving you the solid foundation you need to reach YOUR goals, not mine. With my style of lessons, you get the practice time you need in lessons so that you can go home and feel confident. This leads to faster progress towards your goals and more independence to go the extra mile when I’m not around!

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    I was really looking for private 1-on-1 lessons - I can’t learn in a lab setting.
    Let me ask you some questions. Why can’t you learn in a lab setting? Have you ever learned piano in a lab? Have you ever taken piano lessons in both formats to know what you need or prefer? I know that every other studio is doing traditional, private lessons and it’s making you think that that’s the only way you can learn, but it’s not true! Think about the way you learn in school. Your teacher teaches a new concept and then leaves you on your own in a classroom with other students to work independently to practice this new concept. Your teacher doesn’t sit next to you the whole class watching you complete your worksheets, giving you every minute of their attention, right? So why do you need that kind of attention to learn piano? Doesn’t make much sense so I urge you to at least try out a few classes before you make up your mind. You can’t possibly know until you try!

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    How often are lessons?
    Lessons are once a week for one whole hour! Anything less than once a week will end up with you making very slow progress and getting bored in between lessons. Anything more than once a week will not give you enough time in between lessons to practice what you’ve learned and you’ll end up using the second lesson in the week to practice what you learned at the first lesson instead of learning something new.

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    How much do I need to practice?
    If you consistently attend lessons, you won’t need to practice a lot during the week since you’ll learn your assignments fully during the lesson and all you’ll need to do at home is just review what you learned. With that being said, more practice is never a bad thing. If you want to achieve your goals faster and become more comfortable playing difficult things, then the more practice the better. The more you play, the more you will retain what you’ve learned and you will progress even faster. The most important thing is CONSISTENCY. If you can only practice 30 minutes a day, that’s completely fine, but you should aim to practice 30 minutes every day, not just 2-3 days a week. Make it a routine like brushing your teeth!

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    Do you give me the lesson books?
    Yes, I will give you all the lesson books you need before your first lesson so that you are ready to go and don’t have to go searching for anything!

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    What are lab lessons like if it’s not group?
    Lab lessons are not to be confused with group lessons. You are never taught at the same time as everyone else in your class and you don’t have to be on the same level or even the same age as anyone else. You have your own keyboard with headphones and you work on your individual songs at your own pace and you will work with me 1-1. You don’t have to play in front of anyone or with anyone in the class. The only difference between my style and traditional, private lessons is that I am not looming over you while you’re trying to practice something new. I give you your space to figure things out without stress and you’re able to practice your songs fully before going home!

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    Do you teach through summer?
    Yes! The studio schedule doesn’t operate on a school schedule so lessons are taught all year round with the exception of a few vacation weeks you will know about in advance. Please plan your summer schedule accordingly so that you can consistently attend your lessons.

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    What if I need to miss a piano lesson?
    If you need to miss a lesson, please give me as much notice as you can so that I know you’re not coming and can plan ahead. You can then send me a video recording of your assignments from the week and I will send you a video lesson back with critiques and new assignments so you never lose progress!

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    Why do I need a piano teacher when I can just learn on YouTube?
    You can absolutely learn piano online through YouTube and various other resources. However, you’re not getting any feedback on your playing. You’re just watching a video and trying to mimic it. You’re not learning how to actually read the music, how to properly sit at the piano, how to fix tension, or being told if you’re doing something wrong. You are just watching and repeating without really learning the ins and outs of playing piano from a professional. Plus, why would you want to do all that work of trying to figure out what to learn next and finding it when a teacher will do that for you. A teacher ensures you don’t have any gaps in your knowledge or are creating any bad habits that could lead to injury or frustration later.

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    What happens if my child needs to miss a lesson or change their lesson day?
    Lesson days can only be changed once a season. If your child needs to change their lesson day because of another activity they’re involved in, then all you have to do is give advanced notice of this request and I’ll do my best to fit you into another class on a day/time that works better. It’s best to choose a day that you can consistently make lessons, but if you need to miss the occasional lesson, you can send in a video recording of your assignments for that week and I will send you a video lesson back with critiques and new assignments so you never lose progress!

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    How long will it take until I get good?
    Well, that is entirely dependant on what your definition of good is, how much time you plan on devoting to practicing, and what your goals are! If you practice every day and your goal is to be able to play some simple Classic Rock songs, for instance, you can expect that to take 6-12months. If your goal is to be able to play advanced classical music, expect that to take longer. If you don’t practice often, you will take much longer to reach your goals.

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    When and where are lessons?
    Lessons are available during the week and weekends. They are held at my studio Wantagh. 1890A Wantagh Avenue, Wantagh.

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    How long are piano lessons?
    Lessons are 60 minutes whether you’re in Lab Lessons or Elite Lessons. Unlike most other studios that only give beginners 30-minute lessons, you’ll get twice the amount of time to learn! Think of what you can accomplish in a whole hour compared to 30 minutes!

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    Do you teach at a studio or do you travel to my home?
    I teach all lessons at my studio in Wantagh where all students have their own quality instrument to learn on and plenty of extra cool resources available to use. I do not travel to students’ homes.

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    Why are lab lessons better for beginners and intermediates?
    Lab lessons are specifically designed for beginner-intermediate because it fosters independent learning and problem solving from day 1, which is what beginners/intermediates desperately need. You get the practice time during your lesson to complete your songs so you’re not confused or frustrated at home. When you are given too much attention as a beginner and you’re not taught how to listen or solve for yourself, it leads to many problems down the road so it’s best to learn these skills as early as possible.

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    Do you teach the music styles that I want to play?
    Yes! Whatever kind of music your heart desires, I will teach it to you. I will never pigeonhole you into one kind of genre or push you into learning the genres I love. Everyone is different and has their own unique taste in music so I want you to be the pianist YOU want to be and enjoy what you’re learning.

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    Will I get enough time with you if there are other students in the class?
    There are only 4 students maximum in a class so that means you’ll get a bunch of time with me throughout an entire hour. You will get all the time with me that you actually NEED. You THINK you need a ton of attention and for me to be looking at you every single second to correct you, but you DON’T actually need that much attention from me. It ends up being a crutch and you will learn to be helpless when I’m not around. You can ask as many questions as you want in class and I will answer them all. The only time I won’t be looking at you is when I give you a little time on your own to practice what I just taught you. I cycle around to each student many times throughout the hour so you’ll never be left alone for longer than a few minutes at a time.

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    Are lessons customized for me or does everyone learn the same stuff?
    Lessons are always customized to the individual student. Not everyone learns the same or has the same interests so it’s my job to ask what your goals and interests are and help you get there as quickly as possible. Everyone learns their fundamentals from their lesson books, but your supplemental music will all be different and you get to pick what you play!

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    Do you teach students how to play by ear?
    I do not play by ear so I do not teach how to play by ear. I read music fluently and can sight-read whatever is put in front of me and that’s what I teach my students to be able to do. I want them to not have to struggle to figure out how to play a song or only be able to play a song the way they hear it. I want them to be able to read and play various arrangements of everything they love!

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    What can I expect to learn in the intro lesson?
    In your first 30-minute intro lesson, you will have learned the proper sitting and hand position, key names, finger numbers, 3 different rhythms, some dynamic markings, and how to read 5 treble clef notes and 5 bass clef notes on the staff. All in around 15-20 minutes because we’ll spend the other half talking about your goals and getting to know each other. Pretty crazy, right?

About the Teacher

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    Will you actually help me accomplish my goals or are you a hack?
    Your goals are the most important thing to me. My piano teacher growing up trained me to be the pianist she wanted me to be and had me playing the music she wanted me to play and it made me hate lessons and the piano. It wasn’t until I had a new teacher who helped me with my own goals that I actually enjoyed playing. From day 1, we will discuss your goals and how we’re going to get there, which a lot of teachers don’t do.

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    Why are you qualified to teach me piano?
    Unlike a lot of piano teachers, I didn’t teach myself and this isn’t a hobby or side job for me. I was trained for 16 years by many professional pianists who have degrees in music education on piano and/or piano performance and I graduated from The Crane School of Music, a renowned school that breeds some of the best music educators in the country. I’ve been teaching piano for 13 years and have been playing for 25. I’ve performed professionally at numerous venues and even on studio records. Whether you choose me or someone else, they should be professionally trained, be able to play/teach beginner-advanced, and piano should be their main instrument.

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    What’s your teaching experience?
    I started teaching piano when I was 17 while I was in music school getting my music education degree and taught private piano lessons for a decade. I finally learned that private, traditional piano lessons were not the best way for students to learn piano and made the switch to lab-style lessons. I’ve learned to teach very efficiently online and I have not looked back since!

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