Frequently Asked Questions
1. Do you teach other instruments? No, I am completely focused on piano, though I can write for many instruments. Piano is my joy, passion, and expertise!
2. I heard you stopped teaching for a while? Why did you return to teaching?
Yes! I took a hiatus from teaching in 2014 to focus on professional development of my performance skills. During this time, I chose to focus on a weekend performance business. This gave me more time with my boys during the week, and the change did me good! During this time, I was a hotel lobby pianist for a five-star resort, a dance class accompanist, restaurant pianist, and party/ wedding pianist. It was so much fun, but I missed teaching. After six months or so, I began taking back a couple of piano-composition students who were imploring me to resume their lessons. As I taught these students again, I realized how much joy came from passing on my musical knowledge and passion for piano.
My year of performing was a great investment in my continuing education. It broadened me and gave me more life experience and knowledge to pass along to my students. It also made me realize how much I enjoyed both performing and teaching. I had time to think about how to improve my teaching and business practices for the benefit of my clients. It was a good break, but I didn't want to rush into things. So I spent most of 2015 carefully calculating my next business move. I finally decided to merge my performing and mobile teaching business into one fabulous company in August of 2015. This is how "Piano 2 Go" was born!
3. Do you teach private lessons or group lessons? I offer private lessons of 30, 45, or 60 minutes in length.
4. How long of a lesson do I need? 45-minute lessons are always the ideal choice, even for beginners, which is why try to keep 30 minutes limited to beginner students. 45-minute lessons will be recommended for all students age 13 and older, as well as adult students.
5. Why should I take private lessons? Private lessons allow for a lot of customization, according to the student's needs. I can tailor lessons to correct that student's weaknesses and build on their strengths. I can work on music that that student wants to work on.
6. Do you teach adults? Yes. I teach more adults than most teachers! I love teaching adults and helping them find their musical voice and enhance their quality of life through music-making. *** However, I teach men in my home only! ***
7. Some instructors offer lessons for less. What is the reason for the rate variations?
- GROUP CLASSES ARE CHEAPER. Teachers who advertise rates of $90 -$100 a month are usually teaching GROUP CLASSES. Make sure you ask! There is a huge difference between GROUP CLASSES (which I have also taught), and PRIVATE LESSONS. Group piano classes will typically include 5 - 8 students on electronic keyboards/ digital pianos. I stopped doing group lessons because the gifted students were held back and average students couldn't get the one-one-one attention they needed in the format of a group class. Parents who have transfered their child from group classes to private instruction with me have sometimes expressed disappointment at the slow rate of progress in group classes, and the fact that their child needed more. This is a personal decision, however, and the parent must always decide the best option for their family's budget and needs.
- ALL INSTRUCTORS DO NOT HAVE PROFESSIONAL QUALIFICATIONS.
There is no regulation of private music teachers. There is no required certification process for teaching piano privately, so virtually ANYONE who can play can offer lessons. Teenagers and college drop-outs can offer cheap lessons, but are you getting the lifetime of knowledge and professional experience that a degreed, professional musician has? The instructor you choose is an investment in your child's education and future. Make sure to interview the cheaper teacher and make sure you're getting what you pay for! Here are some questions to ask:
1.) Has your teacher held ANY paid (contractor or employee) positions as a professional musician? (church, orchestra, band, school, theater company, dance school, hotel, restaurant, contractor, accompanist, weddings, parties, events, concerts)? I have held all of these. You can view my artistic resume on this page. Just click the link "Artistic Resume."
2.) What are your teacher's professional affiliations (professional development/ music teacher organizations she belongs to) and how does the teacher invest in his/her continuing education/ professional development? I have been on the teacher honor roll for the National Guild of Piano Teachers, was the website founder for Fairfax Loudoun Music Fellowship, and have attended national conferences of Music Teachers National Association. I belong to all three of these organizations.
3.) Does the teacher have a music degree? I graduated with distinction with a BA in Music from GMU, but I find many lesson providers didn't even minor in music. Some are college drop-outs or merely high-school graduates who had many years of lessons. Though a music degree is not required to teach beginning piano, educational level can indicate qualities such as perseverance and music theory knowledge/ sight-reading skills.
5.) Does the teacher offer performance and competition opportunities for his/her students? I have produced an average of 15 - 20 Piano Guild winners per year and several Honorable Mentions in the Guild's International Composition Contest. The Guild allows students to present memorized programs of up to twenty pieces to a judge. It is an excellent program! My students have also participated in the Bland Competition, studio recitals, and FLMF recitals.
8. Are private piano lessons worth the price?
Even for beginner lessons, you want to someone who has experience and patience in dealing with the youngest beginners. Here is what the father of a five-year-old beginner said about the value of my services recently:
"My five-year old has been taking lessons with Ms. Jennifer for a couple months now. She has grown to love the piano and enjoys all the lessons, and can now play some short song parts. If you have a piano in your house and you have kids, get them to try the piano out with Ms. Jennifer. You won't regret it and its a great way to introduce your child to music without the hassle of going out in the heat or cold. Well worth the cost and especially with her August deal!" - Mark H, 7/23/2015
This customer is paying $35 per half-hour lesson and has no complaints about the price. He sees the dividends in the form of a joyful child with growing artistic confidence.
9. Do you offer vocal coaching or voice lessons? I find that a lot of people assume I am a singer too. This is not always the case with pianists. Though I sing with my students and have sung in many choirs, singing is not my area of expertise. Due to my extensive background as an accompanist, however, I can offer limited vocal coaching in the form of correcting your pitch and rhythm problems, and making breathing, volume, and dynamic suggestions. For the student who writes his/her own songs, I am able to help you develop a good repertoire of accompaniment styles from lead sheets and I can teaching you how to accompany yourself well. But I AM NOT a voice teacher. If you are looking for voice lessons, please ask me for referrals.
10. Do you offer accompanying? As a strong sight-reader, I used to do A LOT of accompanying. But now, the bulk of my performing is focused on party and event entertainment. I still accompany for some events, such as Governor's School auditions and choral concerts for my son's elementary school. I have accompanied competition-winning vocalists, school choirs, 3 church choirs, the McLean Symphony Singers, and 23 musical theater productions over the years. I have even trained a fair number of student accompanists who - themselves - have accompanied Very Special Arts productions, the Harmony Middle School Choir, and the Emerick Elementary School choir. For these reasons, my price is competitive for accompanying. So feel free to ask...I may be able to help. Without a doubt, I am well-equipped to teach accompanying to students, something that is rarely taught in piano lessons!
11. Can I take the summer off without paying? Yes, but I cannot guarantee fall placement if you do. The majority of my students continue through the summer. I think this is ideal, because study of a musical instrument is a year-round discipline.
12. Do you also offer lessons in your studio/ home? Actually, I still offer this for students who prefer this. There are usually select hours, one day per week, that I offer lessons in my home.
13. How old should my child be before starting piano lessons? 7 is the ideal age, but I will start students as young as 5 if the evaluation indicates readiness. 3 and 4 is much too young for lessons, in my opinion.
14. Should I get a digital or acoustic piano? To build strength and strong technical skills, an acoustic piano is the best choice. I practice on an acoustic piano, and I feel that everyone should have the benefit of one at home. There is resistance in the keys that one will not find in an digital piano. Students who only train on digital pianos will not have the finger strength to adjust to that resistance (heavy touch) on the big grand piano at the recital!
15. Where can I buy a piano? It depends on your budget. Here are some options. DISCLAIMER: The mention of the companies below does not constitute an endorsement or recommendation of said company. Customers should check them out for themselves and make an educated decision based on their own personal experience.
- The Piano Company, Leesburg, VA (New and used piano showroom with financing and tuning available. On the mid to higher-end price-wise, but they always stock some low-priced instruments).
- Rick Jones Pianos, Greenbelt, MD (Very down-to-earth business recommended by many customers over the years. They offer used and refurbished pianos with excellent warranties. Low to moderate prices, good for budget-conscious families who want a solid acoustic piano).
- Lee Pianos, Centreville, VA. I stopped in here one day when I was in that area and was impressed with their low prices on nice instruments. They also offer 0% owner-financing, piano rentals, and a rent-to-own program. If you're looking for a good instrument under $5k, this is a great starting place.
- Craigslist - I actually recommend Craigslist for families on a smaller budget. Craigslist is preferable to eBay because you get more local folks advertising their used pianos for sale. You can drive to the seller's home, play the piano, or even have me come along to test it for you! I'll usually do this free of charge. I'll look for things like cracks in the soundboard, water damage, shallow key base, worn hammers, broken pedals, etc.
- eBay - eBay works also (does Amazon sell pianos too now?), but make sure you sort your search results to display "nearest location" first. I do not recommend buying a piano that needs to shipped long-distance. This is risky business with too much at stake. You can't hear it or play it, and delivery will be expensive, potentially resulting in damage. You just don't know what you're getting in a long-distance transaction.
- Valley Trader - Another place to look for local, private owners selling their wares (pick up a copy at 7-Eleven). But by all means, make an appointment, go there and play it, and ask me along if you need an expert opinion!