FAQ

When will lessons be held?

Teachers will visit your child’s school to provide lessons during school hours at times agreed with the school. This means that parents do not have to make arrangements to transport children to after school venues or make arrangements to collect their child at a special time. Tens of thousands of children all over the country have instrumental lessons during the day in school. The evidence indicates that children who learn a musical instrument benefit academically, physically and socially.

In Primary Schools the day of the lesson will be specified and children collected or sent for at the correct time for the lesson. In High Schools, lesson times are displayed on Music Department notice boards, usually a few weeks in advance. The teaching day will usually stay the same, although times are changed weekly or fortnightly to ensure that pupils don’t miss the same curriculum lesson every week.

A few Music for Life lessons are offered after school hours. Parents will be informed in advance if this is the only way teaching can be arranged.

If a group lesson is not possible, do we have to pay for an individual lesson?

No, not initially. The only exceptions are piano and drums which must be taught individually and are charged accordingly. Unless you request otherwise, we would usually offer the 12 week taster course at the group rate. If there was nobody else suitable to share with your child (ie. another child learning the same instrument working at a similar level) we would provide a 15 minute individual lesson. This would obviously keep the cost down for you while you try the scheme out. A continuation course would then usually be charged at the normal individual rate if there was still nobody suitable to share with and a 20 minute lesson would be provided.

Isn’t an individual lesson better than a group lesson?

This can be the case for a more experienced player, but is not necessarily so for a beginner. Group lessons have two main advantages. First, children often like going to their lesson with a friend; it can inspire healthy competition and it is nice to play music with someone else! Second, sharing the lesson means less expense for you while your child is in the early stages and you decide whether it is worth pursuing further. However, the time may come when the group fails to work well; for instance, if one child is struggling to master a particular skill while the other one feels he or she is being held back. In these circumstances, the teacher may advise that an individual lesson is needed to ensure good progress and motivation.

How will I know how my child is doing?

Tutors provide a brief written report at the end of each course of lessons. In addition, all pupils are issued with a practice diary in which teachers may make a note of work that has been set. As such, this will also give you a good, basic indication of progress being made. It is the pupils’ responsibility to take this diary to every lesson and to present it to the teacher to complete. Should you ever want to contact a teacher directly, please use the diary to leave a message for him or her. Teachers also tend to use the diary to let you know of any changes to the lesson day, or to inform you of music books you may need, so it is a good idea to check it every week. If you wish to discuss your child’s progress, please contact us by phone at any time.

How do we get an instrument?

You will need an instrument to take the course. (Exceptions: Drummers do not need to get an instrument during the “taster” 12 weeks; pianists would have lessons on school piano or a suitable keyboard but need access to an instrument – a keyboard may do – outside school to practise on.) You can hire many types of instruments – most brass, woodwind and keyboards – from just £9 per month with whatever you pay in hire coming off the price of the instrument should you later decide to purchase. Many instruments can be purchased over a year, interest free. Having lessons in school allows you to buy an instrument free of VAT and at an educational discount. Anyone who needs advice about getting an instrument can indicate this when they book lessons. We will email information of two reputable local suppliers who we believe offer quality and value, and who we know are be able to look after the needs of students and deliver instruments to school. Please note that prices are not under our control and may be subject to change.

 

 

What music do we need to buy?

Individual teachers have their preferred books, and they will advise you, usually via the Practice Diary, what book to get and where to get it from. They will bring materials to use with your child during the first lesson or two. Please note that some teachers, in particular drum teachers and guitar teachers, may often devise their own materials rather than recommending a published book.

What about exams?

Not everyone wants to do exams, but for those who do we organise Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music examination sessions once a year in special Music for Life centres. These are currently usually held in Chester, Crewe, Macclesfield, Malpas, Neston, Tarporley, Upton (Wirral), and Leek (Staffs). Over 20 years, the pass rate has averaged around 96% with thousands of children having been entered, a high proportion achieving passes at the higher level of Merit or Distinction. These exams are nationally recognized qualifications. 

Please note that it is less usual for pupils studying electric guitar, bass guitar, keyboard or drums to follow formal exam courses, but some teachers do run exam courses for these instruments. Do ask if you want to find out more about this.

What about practice?

Everyone wants to play an instrument for fun and enjoyment, but this involves mastering complex skills which are not easy. In order to develop the necessary skill, practice at home between lessons is important. The tutor will set targets for students to work on and will hope that you, as a parent, will check the progress and encourage your child to practise the relevant pieces. As a guide, it is advisable in the early stages to practise for about 10 minutes a day – a little every day is much more beneficial than a week’s worth the night before the lesson. Try to get into a routine and have the instrument and music easily accessible.

Bear in mind that almost every musician we know and every students we have worked with has had phases where they simply do not practise enough! These phases are not necessarily a problem providing they do not last for too long and the child still seems to enjoy playing, enjoys the lessons and some evident progress is still being made.

What happens if my child is absent from a lesson?

Fees are not normally waived in cases where the tutor is present to teach a scheduled lesson but your child does not attend for whatever reason. The exceptions are in cases of longer term illness when a pupil is likely to miss two weeks of school or more, or in cases where you know of an absence in advance and you let us know (eg. school trip, dental appointment etc.) In these cases, tutors may find that it is possible to reschedule the lesson, or to provide a “double” lesson on another occasion. Taking a holiday during term time will mean that scheduled lessons will be missed.

What happens if a tutor is absent from a scheduled lesson?

The teacher should ensure that students get their lesson entitlement. If this is not possible for any reason – teacher illness, for example, refunds for lessons not given will be sent out at the end of the course. However, the key thing to remember here is that a school year is several weeks longer than our longest course, so that there will be up to five or even six “lesson-free” weeks over the course of the school year. This allows for the course to be completed even if a few weeks are missed due to illness, or school closure due to INSET days, school trips or SATS week. Occasionally, a teacher may schedule an extra visit or a double lesson to make up for time lost. Teachers claim their teaching fee at the end of every month by submitting a register to Music for Life. We keep a very accurate record of lessons given and would be more than happy to discuss any queries or concerns you may have in this regard. Should any tutor be unable to provide the number of lessons booked by you due to the circumstances described above you will be refunded their cost at the end of the course.

What does my child need to take along to each lesson?

  • Their instrument (with the exception of pianos and drum kits!!). NOTE: Children learning keyboard at Primary School need to take their own keyboard into school on the lesson day. This is for a number of reasons, but is mainly because different models of keyboards look and work differently. Young students need to be taught on the one they will be practising on at home. Most High Schools have keyboards in the department than can be used in the lesson, meaning that High School students do not need to take their keyboard into school.
  • their music
  • their practice diary, which we will send to you before lessons commence.

Can we terminate the tuition agreement if my child wants to give up?

New Courses may be cancelled or changed at the end of the 12 week taster period. 12 weeks is a reasonable period of time for students and parents to try things out and see how they go. Continuation courses and new courses that have passed the taster period may be cancelled with a term’s written notice, usually around 12 weeks. This policy is designed to ensure parent, teacher and student commitment and it significantly increases your child’s chance of success. Learning an instrument is a series of high points (getting a new instrument, being able to play a great piece, giving an exciting concert, being with friends at an orchestra rehearsal) and low points (not being able to get something right, becoming bored with a particular piece). The idea of this agreement is to ensure that we are alerted to any problems and have a proper chance of turning the situation around rather than see a child stop playing.

Music for Life is a not-for profit organisation. What does this mean?

Music for Life is run on a non-profit making basis. This means that once the cost of all teaching and administration costs have been covered, any surplus is used to provide extra music education opportunities for young people – for example, we run free music ensembles, weekend workshops and put on exciting concerts for young musicians to benefit from. Music for Life also runs a bursary scheme to support pupils facing financial hardship.

What if my child gives up?

Parents are often understandably concerned that they will enroll their child for lessons, buy or rent an instrument and that, having spent all this money, the child will then soon give up!

However, our records show that the vast majority of students simply do not give up! Typically, around 95% of pupils continue with lessons after the 12 week taster period. Other than taster course, over the whole of last school year we only received requests for 80 students to stop lessons. Therefore, it is a safe bet to assume that once your child starts to learn an instrument with us, they will wish to continue having lessons for a good while!

What happens if my child misses a lesson?

Scheduled lessons which are missed for any reason without the tutor having been informed may be charged for. However, if you contact Music for Life or the tutor in advance to inform of things like school trips, or illness, or anything else, they will all do their best to make up the time – for example, by providing a double lesson next time.

What happens if a teacher misses a lesson – will I get a refund?

Teacher’s are booked to provide a specific number of lessons. Any lessons not provided will be refunded at the end of the course – for most people, that means in August once the last register has come in and we know exactly what the position is. However, this does not mean there will be a lesson every week or that if a lesson has to be cancelled due to the teacher being ill that a refund would necessarily be due. Courses are all set up for fewer weeks than the number of possible teaching weeks available. For example, our typical “year” course is 34 weeks. A school year is 39 weeks, so this gives some leeway to allow for up to five “lesson free” weeks to allow for occasional unforeseen problems, such as the school wanting to cancel lessons one week because of the Christmas party, or the teacher being unable to teach due to illness. Once the final register has been taken at the end of the booked course, any shortfall is refunded before the next course starts. To give some idea, each year around 150-200 courses out of 2,700 may be refunded for a small handful of lessons, usually due to teacher long term illness or unforeseen school issues that have cropped up during the year, such as an accommodation emergency or clashes with swimming one half term! These situations are rare. The vast majority of courses are completed in full every year. If we know of a problem in advance – for example, if the teacher contacts us to say they are ill – we email parents as soon as we can to let everyone know and, hopefully, to catch children before they leave for school with their instrument.