About Miss Nancy
Lesson Costs & PaymentsAbout Lessons
About Miss Nancy
Do you have a college degree in music?
No, I do not. On my resume, you’ll notice that I have completed many college classes in both music and early childhood education – over 80 units total. In 1987, I started this piano studio as a way to pay for my college education. But the piano studio became so successful that eventually I had more than 30 students and was becoming too busy to attend college classes. At that time, I decided to focus all of my attention on teaching my students, developing quality lesson plans and building a reputable piano studio that would inspire students to learn and grow with their music.
Since then, I have returned to college several times; however, the current condition & cost of the higher-educational system in California has been delaying and sometimes preventing me from finishing my degree. Mainly, the current obstacle is that most nearby & affordable colleges have stopped offering the last two Advanced Theory classes that I need for the degree.
Please know that I have completed all but these last two required Music Classes … and they are both about 3-Part Harmony Writing used in the Baroque time period, which neither my students – nor I – have a practical use for at this present time. As soon as these classes are offered again, I will continue on my quest to earn my college degree.
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Are you a member of the Music Teacher's Association of California ?
No, I am not. Since I don’t have a college degree yet, I must apply “by points” for my practical experience and past education. I have applied several times, but don’t have enough points to get more than Provisional Membership (mainly because my earlier private teachers have now passed away and can’t verify my education). Provisional Membership is a temporary status for a limited time while the applicant completes the remaining points required for Active Membership. Unfortunately, with the situation at the colleges mentioned above, I have no idea when I’ll be able to earn the remaining points.
In addition, I have not had a need for the membership benefits in my studio. From the Parent/Student “Needs & Expectations Survey’s” that are completed before lessons begin, it is clear that most of my students want to just play the piano for fun and as a hobby, rather than pursue a scholarly study of music or develop a career in music. And most of my students do not want to participate in the rigorous and stressful competitions held by the MTAC. Since MTAC Membership involves a rather expensive annual fee, which I would need to include in my “overhead calculations” … and since membership itself would “justify” raising my Tuition Rates, I have chosen not to pursue membership in the MTAC so I can keep my fees as low as possible.
However - I have personally studied under the MTAC’s “Certificate of Merit” program and have performed in many of their competitions and recitals as a student. Every lesson plan will follow the curriculum guidelines for the MTAC programs and will provide the student with a “formal education” even if it’s presented in an “out of the box” sort of way.
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What qualifies you to be a piano teacher?
I have been studying the piano and music since I was 4 years old – it’s like breathing to me. I have been successfully supporting myself with private piano teaching since I was 27 years old, and have worked with no less than 30 students at any one time. I have successfully expanded and improved the studio’s services over the past 26 years, even when there were “difficult times” due to the economy or medical issue. As of this writing, I am 52 years old ... I guess I must be doing something right!
I have studied piano for over 20 years, with private teachers, in college, and with the Art Publication Society of St. Louis, Mo, where I received my “Elementary Teaching Credential”, although it is not recognized by the state because APS was not “accredited”.
I have several years of personal experience with the MTAC’s Certificate of Merit Program, and have experienced many of their formal competitions. I also have “casual” stage experience with a country band out of Nevada and some performance experience at private gatherings, such as local weddings and community association events. But I’m not really a performer – I’m a teacher.
I am self-educated on many efficient practice & study techniques, and the “Alexander Technique for Musicians”, which is used to avoid and/or recover from musician’s injury. I also have “other” work experience up to the Office Manager & Executive Assistant level, which gives me an advantage of organization and general business management skills that many piano teachers & musicians don’t have.
My approach to teaching – and life – is friendly and fun. Kids just like me – I don’t know why … but I’m told it’s my energy and enthusiasm that is “contagious”.
I believe that “all education is self-education” and so I not only teach my students how to read music & play the piano, but I teach them how to be their own teacher & do it for themselves so they don’t need me “forever”.
I believe in the “Bumblebee Principle”: Scientists have proven that it is aerodynamically impossible for the Bumblebee to fly. It flies because no one told the bumblebee it was impossible.
I love what I do and cannot imagine ever doing anything else. My piano studio is my life & legacy and I will devote 100% to you/your child and your/their music education.
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Lesson Costs & Payments
How much do you charge for piano instruction?
There are several “Tuition Rate Plans” that are designed to accommodate as many client situations as possible:
The Ala Carte Rate (with no commitment on your part) for the 2013/14 year is $35.00 per 30-minute lesson or $135 per month (not counting Transportation Fee if lessons are in your home).
If you want to commit to a Semester of lessons, you can pay the 2013/14 Tuition in full ($580 per 5-months or $645 per 6-months) or in monthly payments of $120 per month, plus a $5 Monthly Installment Fee.
If you want to commit to the Year-Round Rate Plan, you can pay the 2013/14 Tuition in full ($1200 per year) or in monthly payments of $110 per month, plus a $5 Monthly Installment Fee.
But there’s a bit more to it. With the Semester Plan, some of the “extra events” are required, and with the Year-Round Plan, all of the “extra events” are required. There is a small charge for the extra events, although the Semester & Year-Round students have a discount opportunity that isn’t offered to the Ala Carte Plan students. There are other discounts available with the Year-Round Rate Plan as well, and the rate also decreases in your 3rd year of lessons and again in your 5th year of lessons.
Please be aware that new students in the Placerville area will not have mandatory events to attend until the Fall, 2014 Semester. Please refer to the Lesson Rate Plans for complete information.
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Do you offer any discounts?
Yes. First, there is a 5% Military Discount and a 10% Senior Discount for all Rate Plans. Then, there are many other discounts offered with the Semester Rate Plan and the Year-Round Rate Plan, including discounts up to 10% for full payment of Tuition, and/or Transportation Fees, and/or Extra Event Fees. There is also a family discount on the Semester Plan & Year-Round Plan for multiple-student families who have at least one 30-minute & one 45-minute lesson.
In addition to discounts, there are many “Credits” available during the year, such as the “Recital Volunteer Credit”, and the “Referral Credit”.
In addition to all that, there are other programs that “give back” to the students. For example, at the Practice Boot Camp, everyone goes home with a healthy supply of pens, pencils, sharpeners, erasers, a ruler, magnets, notebooks, student-decorated posters, a dry-erase “Schedule Board” with markers, a wristband (to help them remember to practice), and a tote bag to carry it all home in. Oh - did I mention the “Practice Rank” T-Shirts? There is a t-shirt for “Practice Rookie”, “Practice Trainee”, and “Practice Master”.
Then there’s the “Incentive Points Program”, which is not calculated into my “overhead costs” because it is a reward from my own pocket - not yours. In this program, the students earn points for everything they do in piano successfully, such as completing assignments or finishing songs. They save up their points and each time they reach a 5,000 or 10,000 point level, they earn a $5 gift card. Most students decide to save their gift card until they get enough money to buy something they really want. One student recently went over $100 saved on her gift card.
There's also the "First Job Program", where older students (ages 14 and up) can work as my "assistants" doing administrative work or helping out at one of the classes, clubs, performances, etc. I train the students for the work to be done and pay them $8 per hour. Many of my older students over the years have worked 2-4 years as valued assistants ... and I have gladly written job or college references for several of them.
When are payments due?
Payment is due in advance. The first month’s payment is due at the Interview, or upon official sign-up for lessons, whichever is later. If lessons start in the middle of a month, the 2nd month will be prorated.
After the 1st month, Ala Carte Rate Plan payments are due at the beginning of each lesson, and the Ala Carte Monthly Rate Plan payments are due at the first lesson of each month.
After the 1st month, Semester Rate Plan & Year-Round Rate Plan payments are due on the last lesson day of each month, whether a lesson is taught on that day or not.
No matter when your payment is due, Invoices will be handed out or mailed on the third week of each month. I am a piano teacher, not a collection agency - so your payment is expected by the due date no matter what, whether we have a lesson or not. If you cannot make your payment by the due date, you must call and discuss the situation with Miss Nancy in order to avoid a late charge of $25 per week.
You are welcome to set up an automatic payment through your banks Bill Pay System. Soon, I will be able to also offer the option of making your payment through PayPal or by using a credit card.
How long of a lesson do I / my kids need?
Most students start with a 30-minute lesson, even if they’ve already had lessons for a few years. Younger students will transfer to a 45-minute lesson after 2 years of lessons, but older students will transfer to a 45-minute lesson after 6 months to one year, because they make faster progress and songs get longer & harder more quickly.
Where is your studio and do you teach in student's homes?
My Fairfield studio is on Rockville Road, just west of the Oliver Road & West Texas Street intersection & freeway ramps, in Fairfield, California. And yes, I teach in my students homes, however it is necessary to schedule students in the same area on the same day in order to keep the Transportation Fee as low as possible. At this writing, I travel around Solano County to student’s homes in American Canyon, Green Valley, Benicia, Fairfield and Suisun; however I have also taught in Vallejo and Napa as well.
Beginning January 2014, Hegarty Piano Studio will begin offering lessons in the Placerville area as well, but only in student's homes. By Fall, 2014, the studio will be officially moved to Placerville and at that time, we will offer in-studio lessons, along with the optional & mandatory Extra Events.
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Where do I park at your studio?
At the Fairfield studio, you may park on the side of Rockville Road, or you can pull into my driveway & park behind my blue car. Since I live in a duplex, please don’t park next to my car, as that is my neighbor’s parking spot.
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Do you teach adults? Kids? Teens? Beginners? Preschoolers?
Yes, Yes, Yes, Yes, & Yes!! Most of my students are kids & teens, but I do have a few preschool-age students, as well as a handful of adults (all ages). I teach the pre-primer level all the way up to the advanced level, as well as offer “Independent Study Coaching” and soon will offer “Preschool Group Classes”.
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Is my child too young for lessons?
Well, that depends on your child. I started lessons when I was four … and I’ve had students under my tutelage who start at four and do very well. But keep in mind that the lessons are different at that age - focused more on general topics and movement, and not getting to the “real” note reading & song playing until after at least a year. These lessons have more “games” involved to teach the concepts and sometimes a lesson might not even happen at the piano, but standing up & moving around to rhythms & such.
In addition, younger students will need quite a bit of parental help & involvement between lessons, not only to remind the student to practice, but also to sit with them & help them work through the assignments.
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Am I too old to start piano lessons?
Well, that depends on you. Do you feel too old to start piano lessons? If that’s what you tell yourself, then you will have a difficult time getting started with lessons. But if you feel like it’s something you want to do - then of course you’re not too old!
That’s the key when you’re an adult - you really need to want to or you’ll have trouble making time to practice. And when life gets busy as it does for adults, you do still need to make time for practice or you won’t make progress & could end up feeling like you’re wasting your money.
Many of my adult students go through stages when they are too busy to practice … some take breaks & then come back to lessons when life calms down again. And that’s okay with me, but keep in mind that if you don’t touch the piano for several weeks in a row, you’ll lose some of what you've learned. Other adult students have hung in there & practiced when they could during those times and then do well again when life slows down a bit.
So if you’re an adult and you need to ask this question, then ask yourself - Do I really want to learn piano? Am I willing to make time to practice regularly? Am I willing to stick with it even when things get tough? If you answer yes to those three questions, you’ll do great! If you answer no, don’t give up - just be aware of what you’re getting into … who knows - maybe you’ll love it so much you’ll change your answers!
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Do you teach only classical music or can you teach me to play my favorite genre of music (for example: Pop, Hip-Hop, Ragtime, Jazz, etc.)?
I can and will teach you anything you want to learn - with the exception of “negative” songs or “angry” songs. Music has power and I do not want that type of energy in the studio.
But - I have a large collection of Jazz, Pop, R&B, Rock, Motown, Hip-Hop, Ragtime, Oldies, Swing, Blues, Novelty, Movie, AND Anime & Game music … oh, and of course, Classical. If I don’t already have it - I can get it for you.
At your interview, I will give you a “Student Needs & Expectations Survey” to complete that will ask you to tell me what you expect from your lessons, and what type of music you want to work on. This way, I can customize your lessons to fit your wants & needs, instead of “guessing” what you want to play.
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What books are used?
For Pre-Primers and Beginners I use the “Piano Adventures” series of method books by Nancy & Randall Faber. For Intermediates, I use Hanon exercises, Dozen a Day exercises, Hirschberg's Scales & Arpeggios, Keith Snell’s “Fundamentals of Piano Theory” and “Piano Repertoire: Etudes”, as well as supplemental song books in the genre of the students choosing.
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Can we use our own books?
That depends on the books you have. I will use some student books until they are completed, but then transfer you over to the Faber Series that I normally use.
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What if I want to learn a song and there's no sheet music available for my level?
We might be able to find it on the Internet … if not, I can take a song already in print and arrange it to fit your level of study.
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Can I learn to play on a keyboard or do I need an acoustic piano?
An acoustic piano is always best in order to have complete control over the mechanisms that make the sound so the music comes across the way you want it to sound. For example, only on an acoustic piano can you play a crescendo or diminuendo truly and with depth of expression.
However, nowadays, many people don’t have room for an acoustic piano - or can’t afford one - or want something that can be used with headphones so it doesn’t disturb the rest of the family - or want something that’s portable so they can take it to Grandma’s house. A keyboard is sufficient in the Beginner stage. I recommend the student have a “weighted key”, minimum 72-key, keyboard with a solid stand (not the X stand that wobbles on carpet), and with a sustain pedal … but I will accept students who are using a 61-key keyboard, sitting on a dining table if they are willing to "upgrade" after one year.
All of my students will have many opportunities to play on acoustic pianos and on keyboards so they can learn to “adapt” from piano to piano.
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What days and times are you available to teach?
As of this writing, the Fairfield studio is full. However, there are openings for students in the Placerville area on Thursdays, Saturday afternoons, and Sunday evenings.
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What if I need to miss a lesson?
Well, that depends on the Lesson/Tuition Rate Plan that you choose. If you are in the “Ala Carte” Rate Plan, it’s okay - you pay as you go - just please give me as much notice as possible. If you are in the “Ala Carte Monthly” Rate Plan, you will need to give me at least 48-hour notice if you want to schedule a Make-up Lesson. Otherwise, there are NO make-ups, credits, or refunds.
If you are in the “Semester” Rate Plan, you can schedule one Make-up Lesson per semester if you give at least 24-hour notice and you can receive one Missed Lesson Credit per semester if you need to cancel due to illness. Otherwise, there are NO make-ups, credits, or refunds.
Although I prefer to make-up missed lessons for continuity’s sake, the “Year-Round” Rate Plan families are given a “Monthly Missed Lesson Credit”, which takes the regular missed lesson credit for four Student Missed Lessons and two Teacher Missed Lessons, adds them up, and then divides the amount by 12 months. So, instead of getting a full credit when you or I actually miss our allowed lessons, you get a small part of the credit every month. This is also an extra benefit if you don’t miss any lessons, because you will still get the monthly credit.
There are no make-up lessons for missed or cancelled make-ups. No exceptions.
Regarding a missed lesson and the student’s music studies … I teach my students that “life happens - you need to learn to roll with the flow”. And so I teach my students how to plan their week of practice in order to meet their weekly assignment goals, including what to do if they miss one day or a lot of days of practice. I also teach them that when a lesson is missed, they need to practice anyway - and they should even write down their own assignments. After all, students need to learn how to be their own piano teacher so they can learn new songs on their own.
What if we want to go away on vacation for several weeks?
Special arrangements can be made for any student who will be away for several weeks, no matter which Tuition Rate Plan you are signed up with. However, the arrangements will vary depending on which Tuition Rate Plan you are signed-up with. Please let Miss Nancy know about your vacation plans as much in advance as possible, so make-ups can be arranged as needed.
What happens when there are five days in the month?
This happens four times in a year for every day of the week and five times in a year for at least one day. These lessons are usually taught and used as make-ups for observed Holidays or Studio Breaks. Sometimes these lessons are skipped and used to schedule a make-up lesson for others who need one. Please refer to the Teaching Calendar, where each 5th Day is noted along with its “usage”.
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If our schedule changes, can we change lesson times?
Absolutely! I totally understand how life changes and therefore, schedules change. I do not want to lose a student I’ve been working with & investing time with just because of a schedule conflict. Sometimes it may be difficult for me to arrange this, but so far, in 26 years, I have only lost one student solely because I wasn’t able to move him to a workable lesson time.
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What Holidays are observed during the year and are these lessons made-up?
The only observed Holiday is Labor Day, which is made-up with the nearest “5th Weekday”. The Christmas/New Year’s holiday season, the Easter/Spring Break holiday, Memorial Day, the 4th of July, and the Thanksgiving Week occur during one of the Studio Breaks mentioned below and so don’t need a make-up lesson.
There is a Studio Break about every five weeks. Some of these breaks are made-up by the other “5th Weekday’s”, such as Miss Nancy’s Birthday Break on the last week of September. Most of the Studio Breaks are Working Breaks that are included in the Tuition. These occur for all students on the week of the “4th of July” and the week of Christmas and for Year-Round & Semester students on the last week of May, the 3rd week of August, and the week after Christmas. There is also a Working Break for Recital participants on the 2nd week of February, the week after the Recital in March, and the week after the Award Ceremony in April. Lastly, there is a Working Break on the third week of November (Thanksgiving Week) for all students on the Annual Christmas CD. Please refer to the Studio Calendar for specific dates.
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Do you teach other instruments or voice?
No, I personally do not. However, I am casually looking around for a voice and/or guitar and/or violin teacher to “team up with” and I hope to someday be able to offer these types of lessons.
[Back to Top]How long should I / my child practice?
All students should practice until every assignment is completed and you/they are ready for the next lesson. Each week, I will not only give you/them a weekly assignment. but I will also show you/them how to break it down to day-by-day tasks. If you/they can complete the “day-by-day” tasks in 5 minutes - and that means completely practiced, not “play it once or twice” - then you/they only have to practice for 5 minutes. But usually, in order to really complete the assignment, the student will have to practice longer than 5 minutes each day.
Too often, students will become “clock watchers” if given a length of time for practice. This means they are thinking “oh I have 15 minutes left to practice” … and they play something several times … then “oh I have 5 minutes left” … and then “oh I’m done” and they are off! However, they probably were not thinking about what they were practicing in order to complete the assignment & be prepared for their next lesson.
I will spend a lot of lesson time discussing “How to Practice” with you/your child so you/they will develop good practice habits. My daughter took lessons with a teacher we found on Craigslist but she's had lessons for over a year and she still can't read notes without finger numbers or letter names written. Can she possibly unlearn this bad habit and learn to read notes fluently?
Of course she can! I have had many students come to me from previous teachers who either “didn’t do enough” or “did too much” of something and caused the student to learn bad habits. My feeling is that if a student can’t read the note names on the printed music, then they can’t find out what’s wrong if they make a mistake & the music doesn’t sound right … they can only guess & “hunt & peck” until they find the right note. So I not only teach the students how to read notes, but I drill them with supplemental worksheets - just like you would drill on vocabulary, spelling, or times tables for school. Reading music is not as hard as it seems - it just takes practice and application - just like learning a language.
My son took group lessons at a music store and he has made such slow progress that he's losing interest. Can you help him regain his enthusiasm?
Absolutely I can! I do many things to make lessons fun and to give students a choice about what they are doing. Although we work with traditional method books, I also have an extensive library of all genres of music at all levels. Students choose their “fun songs” and their “challenge songs” from this library, based on their personal interests. (Of course, I only offer students a group of songs that will reinforce what they are doing or teach them something new so they are always making technical & practical progress - even with Disney or Mario Brothers!)
In addition, we do so many “extra” creative things around the studio that it’s hard not to “catch” the enthusiasm and join in the fun. Shy students love to record their music and turn it into CDs or MP3’s … outgoing students love to perform at the Community Service Performances and Parlor Gatherings … and all the students seem to love the “educational games” we play at the Rhythm Workshops, Master Classes & Practice Boot Camp.
I am an adult and haven't played piano since I was a teen, so I think I have forgotten almost everything. Will I be able to regain my knowledge and skills?
Of course you will! I have had many adult students, ranging in age from 21 to 85, come to me over the years wanting to dust off their pianos and get to know them again. It’s a lot like “riding a bicycle” … it’ll come back to you pretty quickly.