Frequently asked questions

Where are the lessons held?

Lessons are held weekly at the Myerstown Community Center, 2nd floor, 101 S Railroad Street, Myerstown. The entrance is at the driveway loop & door on Carpenter Street (see below). There is furniture in the hallway where siblings or parents are more than welcome while their student is inside the classroom for lessons.

How long do lessons last?

Depends on which format you are using. Almost all private lessons are 45 minutes while the Allegro classes are 1 hour in length (see what we offer).ny lessons are 30 minutes, but more and more are welcoming 45-minute lessons allowing us to dig deeper.

What music books do I need?

I use a variety of method books and supplemental material. I will work with books that you already have or I will gladly pick up books at our local music store for you.

If I am choosing books, your age & past experience will factor into what is chosen. Lesson books are the responsibility of the student or parent to pay, but the many extras that are added along the way that come from my library are free of charge to you!

How are Lessons Scheduled?

With a large studio, scheduling can be tricky since many pieces need to fit together like a puzzle. I will work with the schedule that you have and try to come up with an agreeable time for both of us. If you need to switch your time, I will do my best to accommodate but cannot guarantee whether that will be possible or not.

Please try to be on time for your lessons as it is not possible to stay 10 minutes even if you arrive 10 minutes late. Should a student arrive late the ending time will remain the same.

Similarly, please be on time to pick-up your student promptly at the end of lessons. It is no longer possible to simply look out the window to check for your car as we could do at our residence.

Do I need a piano at home?

You will definitely need a practice instrument. An acoustic piano is preferable since the pedals and touch of the keys are difficult to duplicate, however, keyboards that have weighted keys & are touch sensitive can be good substitutes.

How much should I expect to practice?

This depends on the level and age of the student and how fast they want to progress. Of course, it’s most efficient and effective to practice every day but 5 days a week is still a good target. It is my goal to assign enough songs so the student has enough to work on throughout the week but not give too much that it feels overwhelming. Young students might only practice 10 minutes a day while elementary students should shoot for 20-30 minutes. In middle school you’re old enough to handle 30-45 minutes and in high school, even more would be superb. However rather than counting the minutes, developing a habit of getting to the piano is far more important.

The truth about practicing? 1) When parents get involved, it usually goes much better; 2) a regularly scheduled time works best; and 3) if there is no progress, there is probably little to no practice. Simply coming to lessons doesn’t make a musician and students will undoubtedly lose interest quickly. More than counting minutes, it is important to master the material that is given for that week! We’ll work on ways to practice and emphasize practicing well rather than practicing long.

I understand that most of your homes are very busy and to be honest in my own home I struggle(d) to keep my own kids on task but goals are just that. Sometimes they are achieved, sometimes not. Although I encourage students to work hard, I definitely don’t make them feel bad for an off week.

What ages do I teach?

I will teach children as young as 4 who show interest in piano and making music. It would be necessary at this young age to have a lot of parent support. On the other end, adults are surely welcome as I have worked with several over the past years and it is rewarding and stimulating.

Are there opportunities for the students to perform?

Yes. I hold a spring recital (April or May) and also seek opportunities in the fall which are more casual or lower key. An example of this would be at an assisted living facility. There are no extra fees or extra charges for the recitals.

While all are encouraged to participate in the recitals, I do not make them mandatory.

Sometimes we perform for each other at a group lesson as well.

What if I miss lessons?

With the pace and busyness of life, there will be occasions when you can’t get to your scheduled lesson time. However, because specific times are set aside for specific students, a student who does not attend a lesson will simply miss the benefit of that lesson. I can then use that time or other times to plan for the student’s progress, locate materials, etc.

Please be assured that your tuition pays for far more than the time spent with your child (see Is that payment just for the actual lesson?) With advance notice, it may be possible to reschedule at a later time or different day. There are no refunds or makeups with short or no notice. If I need to cancel due to sickness or other reasons, I will use a flex lesson which is accounted for in the schedule.

How do you figure tuition?

I teach 40 lessons in the calendar year, beginning September – August. That means then I don’t teach 12 weeks, 10 of which are scheduled off and 2 which will remain flexible.

Weeks off:

1st week of school (ELCO school district)

2 weeks over Christmas

1 week in spring

some weeks in the summer

The two flexible weeks could be used for sick time, memorial or funeral services, jury duty, or other unanticipated interruptions in the year which cause me to miss student lessons. These will be announced ahead of time (as much as I know) and could be used in the summer as well as the normal school year.

The payments then will be divided between 12 months of the year. Typically, there are four lessons in a month, but whether there are 5 or 3, the payment is the same every month of the year.

Are there are any Summer lessons/Summer Camps?

I do continue to teach over the summer but with a more limited schedule. June - August brings opportunity for limited lessons, or for many, opportunities to focus on a time period of music, composers, or skills connected to piano playing. Summer Camps are designed to be an exciting time of learning about music topics or endeavors in a focused or concentrated way. Students in the studio & community are invited to be a part of these fast-paced, exciting hours of learning together. More information can be found under Summer Zando, available under the "more" tab. In the past we've enjoyed Classical Times, Goin' Baroque, Composition Exploration or The Beat Goes On, a rhythm camp. This year brings new options to explore. Several students choose to participate in a camp & continue lessons. Added learning for them!! Should you choose to not take part in any summer Forte lessons or camp, fees are still incurred if you want to reserve a spot in the fall schedule.

What if I didn't have time to practice this week?

Please do not cancel lessons because your practice has been slim to none. First, you are still charged for the lesson, and second, there are numerous things that we could explore together even without reviewing repertoire!

While it would be beneficial to review the pieces for better at-home learning, these lessons with low practice also give opportunity for sight-reading, ensemble playing (duets), improvisation or composition! Any of these would be perfect for a lesson that isn’t ready to be heard.

Are games really appropriate during piano lessons?

Most children & teens enjoy playing games and at the piano studio, I have a growing library of games, many of which are quick & short, to help us review or reinforce musical concepts that we’re learning. Games are a great way to check what we think we already understand and to help us see things from a different perspective. I use games as often as time allows!

Are there group lessons?

There are two studio classes (group lessons) held each year, one in the fall and one in the spring. Sometimes we will take time for students to play pieces in a low-stress environment like this (perfect if our class is close to recital time).

Group lessons allow us to work on music activities as well, or get to games that we don’t have time for during regular lessons. This 90 minute group lesson is in lieu of the regular lesson that will be coordinated by me according to student levels.

It is not mandatory for students to attend group lessons although attendance is encouraged. I try to be sensitive to schedules and the difficulty of changing times up for just one week. Depending on the time of the regular lesson it may not be possible to go forward with a private lesson but we would resume the next scheduled lesson.

May I come early to my lesson?

Please do not arrive at your lesson more than 5 minutes before your scheduled time. Since there is no “waiting area” and once you enter inside you are in the teaching area, arriving before that is a distraction and not fair to the student who is ahead of you.

In the same way, please try to pick-up your student promptly at the end of lessons for the same reasons of making the next scheduled student feel comfortable and not nervous about an unexpected audience at their lessons.

While the weather is warm it’s no problem to wait outside, either at the beginning or ending of a lesson, but during the cold, or in the rain, I wouldn’t expect you to be outside.

What about bad weather?

If the school district is closed or dismisses early Forte Studio will follow suit. As I learn of these changes in schedule and I will try to email you. This will be the time for an online lesson if you choose to go that route. I will not be able to make up those lessons otherwise.

How can I pay for lessons?

At the end of each month, you will receive a Forte invoice for the next month. You will have the option to use the PayPal tab that is linked from the invoice. This is very handy for some. Please be aware that there is a 3% convenience fee added for PayPal fees.

I also have a Venmo account which can be found @Donna-LaRue-8

Checks are common and perfectly acceptable as well. They should be made out to Forte Piano Music Studio.

Some prefer cash, and that is also okay.

I would urge you to please talk with me if the payments become burdensome due to a changing family circumstance or difficulty.

Are there any fees?

An initial $30 registration fee is to be paid at the first lesson for all new students. This helps me to get the new student all set up and included in the systems. It also includes a Forte t-shirt or cinch sak, if you would like one.

A $10 late fee will be charged for lessons not paid by the second lesson of the month.

What are the tuition rates?

Please contact me for rates concerning your student.

Are the posted tuition rates just for the actual lesson?

While tuition payments do cover the actual time you spend here for your lesson time (private lessons, groups, camps) please remember it includes a great deal more. Payments also include:

  • Time preparing for the student: searching for music, lesson planning, bookkeeping, curriculum. It has been cited by professional music journals that for every hour enrolled in piano lessons, you are investing in at least 2 hours of the teacher’s time!
  • Teacher training & over 20 years experience
  • Recital costs & preparations. Programs, refreshments, prizes, gifts, photography & sound.
  • Studio expenses: Copying, ink, paper, incentive programs, computer help & assistance. Instruments, newsletters, camps.
  • Piano tuning, repairs & maintenance
  • A large loaning library of music books & supplemental materials. It continues to expand and new things are being added regularly.
  • Games that are used in the lessons to reinforce or introduce concepts. Preparations & systems to organize
  • Property taxes, self-employment taxes, insurances, business licenses,
    The independent music teacher has no employer to assist in providing health and life insurance by matching funds. Tuition helps cover the increased living costs of your self-employed teacher.
  • Lots of time learning, exploring or selecting repertoire.
  • Fees and memberships allowing for professional development. Webinars, video chats, manuscripts all take time. These offer many opportunities for new ideas and growth. When I’m growing, you’re benefitting!
  • Office equipment costs (computers, apps, keyboards, printers)

Can I buy t-shirts or cinch bags?

If you would like to purchase a Forte t-shirt or cinch bag, they are for sale at $10 and can be acquired at any lesson. T-shirts are purple or gray and come in children’s sizes 5T – youth XL, and adult sizes S to XL.

Are there preschool classes?

Our class for 4-5 year olds is called Mini-Musicians! This is not the same as piano lessons but is a great first step for our youngest members. We get to move, listen, create & learn about rhythm, notes, and even piano keys. We’ll learn simple songs & listen to child-friendly music during our time together. See more under “What we offer” tab.

Is there a waiting list?

Forte does not have a quick or large turn-over. Most students stay and study long. It means you may need to wait a while until there is an opening. However, the reality is that students do graduate and some do move on to other things, so you know that openings will come. We will fill those vacancies on a first-come, first-serve basis until we find a schedule that can accommodate the available time slot.

Are there summer camps?

Sfzorzando- (It.) A strong emphasis, all of a sudden Forte’s Summer Sfzorzando (Sfz) sfort-SAHN-doe (or Zando) will be our restructured summer learning program with a variety of options for students to choose from. Replacing previous week-long camps, these fast, short hours together will cram in lots of learning on a single topic to search & explore for two consecutive days.

Summer Zando is designed to be an exciting time of learning about music topics or endeavors in a focused or concentrated way. Students in the studio & community are invited to be a part week-long or 2-day classes.

In past years we have enjoyed learning about Tchaikovsky & his famous work, The Nutcracker. Saint-Saëns and his Carnival of Animals was another adventure. We explored Classical Times learning about three Classical Greats and activities centered around them. The Beat Goes On is rhythm camp for elementary & middle school students inside & outside of the studio. Older high school students are participating in a piano quartet working through ensemble music. We’ve enjoyed Goin’ Baroque & Composition Exploration.

The summer brings a modified lesson schedule where the student attends 6 lessons for the summer from the given dates June to August.

Several students choose to participate in a camp & continue lessons. Added learning for them!!Should you choose to not take part in any summer Forte lessons or camp, fees are still incurred if you want to reserve a spot in the fall schedule.

Caution about Moving to a Public Space (NEW)

Please know that I am unable to meet your child at the first-floor door or return them after the lesson & it is the parent’s responsibility to meet them at the Forte Classroom. We are in a public building & while the outside doors are always locked and our space is safe, there will be no way of knowing who is around. I am responsible for your child only when they are in the classroom, but not while they wait in the hallway, the coming from or returning to your vehicle.