Lessons Policies FAQ

*Please bookmark this page and refer to it when you have questions.  Then please email me (johnmoore@mindsdozer.com) for any clarification so that I can improve this document.  Thank you.*

Do these policies apply if my child is a student at St. Paul Academy and Summit School?

Yes, but in that case, policies and billing practices that are in conflict are superseded by the policies and billing practices set forth by St. Paul Academy and Summit School.

Are there any required materials?

Depending on the student’s experience level and direction of study, I may require purchase of books and/or other items.  These items can be found in the Minds Dozer Music School Amazon Store, accessible from the Mindsdozer.com/MusicLessons/ site).  When instructed, please acquire these items immediately so as to avoid impairing trajectory and prospects of the curriculum.  If you know ahead of time that you are going to need materials, such as when you are coming to the end of a book level, or if the materials are not available locally, such as with the Korg KDM2, you may order the materials from the Amazon store above.  If you are without the necessary books to begin or continue study, you must go to a local store, such as Cadenza Music on Snelling and Selby, and purchase these books immediately.  There generally isn’t any price advantage to ordering online when it comes to piano books.  When required, I won’t be able to continue lessons without the specified materials, so please factor incidental expenses into the decision to enroll in lessons.

Are lessons and materials tax deductible?

In Minnesota, the answer is basically yes, with some limitations.  Please refer to your tax advisor on the subject.

I’m purchasing lessons on behalf of my child.  What is expected of me?

The children I have the most success with have a parent that is actively interested in their child’s study.  They know what he or she is working on from week to week, and are able to monitor their progress.  I could ask them how their child progressed during the past week and they would be able to give me a fairly good idea.  This does not require any experience or education in music.  In fact, many parents enjoy learning a lot about music simply by knowing what their child is assigned from week to week.  Furthermore, if the things your child is studying are new to you, you will find them more interesting, and your interest will be infectious.  In many schools of music study, such as with the Suzuki method (upon which this program is loosely derived), the parent(s) learn(s) in parallel with their student child.

        The converse is that any disinterest you show will also be transmitted.  In my experience, children mirror their parent’s level of respect for music study without exception.  This can often be difficult for a parent, being so close to it, to believe.  I’ve worked with parents who say their child does not do anything they tell them.  Nonetheless, I witness parental actions and attitudes imitated by these same children and teens consistently.  

Not prioritizing lesson attendance, treating music as less urgent than other things, not making the effort to familiarize yourself with these policies, and not promptly acquiring required materials are all examples of the kind of behaviour that will ultimately sabotage your child’s prospects in music.  I can work with a child or teen who is luke warm about music whose parent(s) follow(s) through and show(s) diligence.  I can’t, however, under any circumstances, work with even the most enthusiastic music student if the parent(s) eat(s) away at that enthusiasm by transmitting a low valuation of the craft.  At a bare minumum, you must:

Failure to meet these responsibilities may result in dismissal from the program without refund.

Please feel free to call or write when you want to sync up regarding your son or daughter’s progress.

What kind of practice schedule is necessary?

Frequent practice is far more important than lengthy practice.  Beginners will want to execute each assigned piece twice per day at a minimum.  Once that habit is achieved, rather than add more repetitions, I use lesson time to show students how to get the maximum result out of modest additional practice time.  This second phase of practice habit building is more involved and does require some musical understanding to employ, but in summary, in involves focusing on the trouble spots.  These trouble spots are identified during the 2 repetitions, and then broken down and drilled.  Once corrected, these spots are gradually incorporated into performance of the entire piece by “telescoping” the problem area out to larger and larger logical subdivisions of the music.

How do I know what is assigned?

        For piano students using method books, the page numbers of the core books, the lesson and performance books, will be circled.  Though the theory and other books may or may not have circled page numbers, it is always implied that the student should be caught up to the corresponding page numbers in those books.  The corresponding page numbers are indicated in the page margines.

For guitar and voice students, and for some piano students, Google Keep is used as a central repository of what is currently assigned.  Parents, students, and teacher are generally all given priveleges to view the student’s Keep Note.  Parents ought to check this note weekly in order to make sure that the student’s practice is in line with it.  Students are often tempted to use practice time to play their greatest hits.  Parents can help productivity tremendously by making sure that the student is also getting their minimum practice of the current assignement.

My child or myself don’t have any natural talent.  Should I consider that in getting lessons?

        Natural talent is way overblown.  It is perpetuated by those who would like you to believe you can only witness it by purchasing their concert tickets and albums.  Sure there is some limited innate aptitude that helps early on, but that didn’t help Michael Jordan become who he was.  Musical ability is an acquired skill set.  Acquiring that skill set doesn’t strictly require lessons, but it does require an affirmative decision to learn.  Lessons from a good teacher do speed it up a lot, though.

My child tells me they hate piano.  Is it just not for him/her?

        When a student reports hating piano, it is without exception on a day they have not done the practice to prepare for the lesson.  When a student reports loving piano, it is without exception on a day that they have practiced in preparation for the lesson.  The converse is not generally true.  Although momentum is a factor, declarations about love or hate do not reliably predict results in preparation, but preparation reliably predicts feelings about piano.  If you can help figure out how to solve the problem of preparedness, you will have solved the issue of feelings about piano.

I’m super busy or my child is super busy.  Is there really a benefit to lessons if I must also allow for saving the world and keeping the company afloat and getting straight As and becoming a superstar athlete and all the other things I have to do?

        There is no inverse correlation between general busyness and results in music study.  In fact, there is a positive correlation between amount people are busy with other things and the success they achieve in the study of music.  The coach at Wesleyan recruited us by saying that Crew would help us get organized and succeed at every other area in life.  I thought the idea was crazy that spending another two hours every morning could help me get more done, until I realized that rising to the challenge elevated me on every level.  It also helps that music study doesn’t work on the same schedule as other goals in life.  The minimum practice schedule required for steady results is something even the busiest of people can achieve.  Consistency is key, not time.  That is HELPED by busyness, not hindered.

What about misses and makeup lessons?

If you notify me 48 hrs in advance, I will do my best to find you a makeup time slot.  Please notify me via email.  You can even add my email address (johnmoore@mindsdozer.com) to your phone and ‘txt’ my email address.  I cannot offer makeup times in the case of less than 48 hours notice of a cancellation, due to the opportunity cost of the reservation.  Refunds due to missed lessons are not practical.  This would invite too much administrative overhead, and would dissuade commitment to the study of music.  If you plan an absence before the related payments are made, and at which time you notify me by email thereof, appropriate adjustments will be made to your account or refunds will be issued within the window given herein.  Late arrival by the student to the lesson by 15 minutes or more may be subject to a forfeiture of the remaining portion of the appointment time which will be considered a missed lesson.

Will I be given homework and expected to complete it each week?

You will be given assignments as needed, but not every week.  Sometimes our lesson time is best served by coaching on technique and making little course corrections.  Sometimes your assignments will be to continue integrating the corrections we discuss.  Sometimes your assignments will be specific tasks to accomplish.  It is each student’s responsibility to know what to study.  This means writing down assignments, and knowing what is expected of him or her for each lesson.  The assignments won’t always be explicitly enumerated, and it will often be assumed that you will continue to drill and improve the aspects we discuss during the lesson.  If you have questions, ask.

What if I haven’t done my homework?

If I come to the conclusion, in my sole discretion, that a student has not sufficiently completed his or her homework, I reserve the right to cancel the lesson without prior notice.  If homework is not completed as often as I deem sufficient over the course of multiple weeks, I may discontinue lessons without prior notice.  In these cases, there are no refunds, so...do your homework!

Are there recitals?

Yes.  There are 2 per year, one in December and one in late April or early May.  It should be assumed that preparing a piece for these recitals is part of your homework as soon as that is possible.  The cost of producing these recitals is built into your tuition payments.  

Must I participate in recitals?

You must make a best effort to participate in all recitals.  You must participate in at least 1 recital per year to remain eligible to continue study.

How are matters handled near the time of a policy change?

All matters are treated with the policies that were current as of the time of the matters in question.  New policies will not affect events that have occurred before the policy was published.  No retroactive policies can or will be enacted.  Policy changes are made spontaneously with immediate effect, so check this page regularly in order to avoid confusion.

When is tuition due?

All tuition is Paypal subscription based, and will incur at the frequency of your appointments.  Tuition needs to be paid up through at least 7 days in advance of the date(s) for which the tuition applies.  The Paypal subscription must be initiated prior to the first appointment and begins by charging the cost of the first appointment at the spurious rate (see below).  Six days later it charges the cost of the next two appointments, minus the  difference between the spurious rate and the ongoing rate for one appointment, in order to enact compliance with the 7 day advance payment policy.  Each week thereafter it charges the cost of one appointment.

You may start your subscription any number of days before your first appointment.  You will be refunded as necessary in order to keep your subscription payments within the window of 7 to 14 days in advance of the appointment for which the payment pertains.  This is to keep accounts receivables as simple as possible.

Please be aware that when you have made a new reservation, your slot is not secured until payment is received, so please make payment within 24 hours after making your reservation in order to ensure that it is not forfeit to another student or commitment.

Advance payment reserves your spot in the calendar and this policy ensures that you are able to have meaningful discussions with me about my availability.  It also prevents that I am not able to offer lessons to someone because I’m holding the slot for someone else who later changes plans.  Moreover, this policy enables me to keep tuition low.

What does it cost?

To find out the current price of a subscription plan, just click on the related “subscribe” button.  The last dollar amount listed, the recurring weekly charge, is the price of each appointment.

When and how will prices change?

Prices and subscription payments may increase without notice as much as 9.6% within any 60 day period.  Paypal is presumed to notify customers of changes to their subscriptions in real time.

What kind of lesson frequency is available?

The standard rates apply to weekly or twice weekly appointments.  Minds Dozer does not offer lesson intervals longer than a week.

Why do different instruments suggest different lesson lengths?

These are optimized, based on experience, for the aperture of attention span on different topics before brain fry sets in.  Piano lessons tend to be shorter, because they are more cerebral.  Voice lessons are athletic and involve more warm up and coaching, so they benefit from longer lesson times.  Voice students also tend to be a little further along in involvement in music, start voice lessons at a little older age, and are acclimated to more lesson time.

What forms of payment do you accept?

Paypal is the exclusive method of Payment accepted for students outside of St. Paul Academy and Summit School.  Make Paypal payments to tuition@mindsdozer.com.

Checks and cash require too much bookkeeping for me to devote as much focus to teaching as i’d like.  Thank you for your understanding in this matter.  Paypal can accommodate both credit cards and bank account withdrawals.  

Is Paypal safe?

As Paypal is the oldest service provider in peer to peer online payments, it is likely the most robust, weathered and secure.  It is a large company that rivals any major bank, but specializing in online small business payments.  If you’ve yet to enter the magical world of online purchases, Paypal is the best place to start.

Does Minds Dozer keep my payment information?

Paypal strictly limits what kind of information and options are available to a vendor such as Minds Dozer.  Minds Dozer does not receive any customer credit card or bank account information from Paypal.  The only customer information that Minds Dozer receives is the name of the payer and the email address with which it is associated.  Other information is only received by Paypal.  Minds Dozer is not permitted by Paypal to initiate charges against account information provided to Paypal.  Minds Dozer is not permitted by Paypal to increase subscription rates dramatically within the Paypal specified window.

What if I need to take a break or discontinue?

Just cancel your subscription via the Paypal website and forward me a copy of the confirmation email at tuition@mindsdozer.com.  If you want to discontinue lessons on a particular date, you will need to cancel your subscription just before it charges the cost of subsequent appointments.  Or cancel it even earlier and make a supplemental payment to cover the remaining lessons you would like.  If you cancel your subscription, remaining lessons cannot be postponed to subsequent weeks.  This requires a minimum amount of forethought and commitment, which is essential for avoiding a premature derailment of your music goals.  It also avoids booking mishaps which would increase lesson costs.  To put it succinctly, once you have paid tuition, it is non-refundable except in the case of instructor absence.  You are welcome to discontinue and resume whenever it makes sense for you, other policies considered.  If you would like to plan a finite absence, you can suspend your subscription before it charges the cost of the pertaining appointments, and then resume it in advance of your resume date.  Alternatively, and more simply, you can simply send notice to Minds Dozer, by email or text, your dates of absence, before your subscription charges the cost of the pertinent appointments, and your account will be credited appropriately.

Can I sign up for an entire semester, and what is the advantage of doing so?

        Yes, you may.  You may make a one time paypal payment of $600 (30 min lessons), $850 (45 min), or $1100 (60 min) to tuition@mindsdozer.com.  This gets you priority in scheduling considerations and makes sure that you are not bumped to a different time slot or dismissed in favor of another student that is signing up on a semester basis, such as those at St. Paul Academy and Summit School.

When should one expect refunds or account adjustments?

Please allow 30 days for an account inquiry to be addressed once it has been submitted.