If you withdraw from lessons during the year, any post-dated cheques will be returned and a refund given where applicable, following two weeks' notice (usually the last two lessons). Pre-authorised fees will be reimbursed.
Like all pre-booked professional time, missed lessons will be charged for. If I have notice, I will try to reschedule during teaching hours that same week, but even if you were sick, or had car trouble, I will not be able to 'bank' missed lessons to a later date. If I'm the one who cancels, I will always arrange a makeup lesson or give a refund.
Piano and cello exams are offered in person again by the Royal Conservatory of Music in January, April (piano only), June and August. The RCM will also offer online lessons which can be scheduled through-out the year. Theory exams for Level 5 and higher are in-person the second Fridays of December and May, or online any time.
Some students are ready to take a Level 1 exam by the end of their second year, but it's not a route the every student wants to, or should, follow. You don't need entry-level exams to do later grades; for some, their first exam is Level 5 or higher. When you have passed Level 5 practical, you must also have passed Level 5 theory to receive your certificate.
RCM Levels 6, 7 and 8 practical, along with the matching theory exam, earn high school credits for Grades 10, 11 and 12 in B.C.
Exam levels, theory grades and book levels are not designed to match each other. Book 3, for instance, is not RCM Level 3; each author or school has its own system.
The Cowichan Music Festival in February is a competitive performance opportunity open to all students. Sessions begin early in February and the closing Highlights concert is held just before Spring break. Although it has been on hold during the pandemic, it is hoped we can return in person in spring 2022.
Pianofest is a workshop format organised by the Cowichan Valley teachers, and is not a competition, but still a performance opportunity.
I'm happy to accompany cello students for performances in Festival or in exams, but because of travel time and waiting time, I reserve the option to charge the equivalent of a lesson as a fee. (I usually would do this instead of making up a missed lesson.)
If you're starting out with a keyboard, watch for signs that it's time to trade up. The piano is a percussion instrument, and learning to use your fingers, hand and arm effectively can't be practised on unresisting keys; nor can your fingers play loud or soft notes, which is frustrating even for a beginner. As soon as you know your child is enjoying lessons, consider upgrading to an electronic or acoustic piano.
Which to get? some pros and cons -
You will need to rent, borrow or buy a cello to practice on, although if you like, you can use a studio cello rather than bring yours to lessons. You will also need a hard chair without arms, and a music stand. Other useful items are rosin, which is a small hard block of gum used to condition the hair of the cello bow; and a pin holder, which holds the cello steady if you have hard floors rather than carpet. When you need a metronome, download a free app on your phone. (Metronomes help players monitor their speed by ticking out a steady beat, and how fast or slowly they should play.)
If you are buying a cello, there are many good manufacturers, and most student cellos are reliable. They come with a bow and a travel case. A full-size instrument for adults is referred to as a 4/4; smaller cellos designed for young children are sometimes sized down to 3/4 or less.