Studio Policies, 2012-13

General Information

Violinnovation is a business duly registered with the Iowa Secretary of State. Any legal disputes are subject to the laws of the State of Iowa.

My home studio is located in Norwalk, Iowa. The time zone is CST/CDT.

The studio address and phone numbers are given directly to students for security reasons (because spammers have no sense of decency, morality or shame.)

Financial Arrangements

The base rate for all lessons and consulting is $48 per clock hour.

All webcam lessons are billed monthly, in advance through PayPal, or through school district invoicing.

All individual account payments are due on or before the first lesson of the month. School accounts terms are "net 10."

Local students: Lessons may be paid for via PayPal, cash or personal check. Returned checks will incur additional charges and may require future cash or PayPal payments.

All new students on individual accounts must confirm their scheduled lesson time with an advance deposit of one half the monthly lesson fee. An invoice must be paid no later than 7 days prior to the first lesson. The remaining balance must be paid no later than the second lesson. Lessons, including the initial lesson, may not be rescheduled except as noted in the Attendance section below.

There are no refunds for lessons missed by the student, regardless of the reason.

Lessons cut short due to internet failure will be credited prorata.

Lessons missed by the instructor will be credited to the next billing cycle.


Prepared attendance at every scheduled lesson is expected.

If you will be late, please call or email, depending on what best fits your circumstances and location.

Twenty-four hours notice for an absence due to illness is appreciated, if possible.

In the very rare event that I need to cancel a lesson, I will email or phone as far in advance as possible.

Each student is allowed one make-up lesson per semester. Fall and spring make-up weeks are scheduled into the studio calendar.

The initial lesson is like any other lesson. I realize that sometimes emergencies and other things happen over which we have no control. Strangely, this seems to happen disproportionately to students coming for a first lesson. Please double check your schedule before your first lesson and make any necessary adjustments well in advance. Otherwise, plan on showing up during make-up week.

Summer lessons are available and encouraged.

Studio vacation weeks: TBD Spring Break week(s), Independence Day, Memorial Day, Labor Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's Day. Click the calendar link above for this year's dates.

Supply List

Students should bring the following to each lesson:

Instrument and bow

Shoulder pad or sponge (if needed)

Foot chart (pretwinklers)

Current repertoire book and other assigned music.

A pencil

A music stand (webcammers only)

A three-ring binder for use as a practice notebook. Set-up instructions will be emailed and/or discussed at the first lesson.

Lesson Routine

    Lessons are in English.

    Students generally stand for lessons, unless asked to sit or have a disability that requires accomodation.

    Lessons start and end on time, as much as possible.

    Depending on the age and level of the student, expect to cover repertoire, technical studies, review, practice skills and organization, and reading activities during lesson time. Working on school orchestra music is not a private lesson activity; however, we can work on techniques that might be necessary to accomplish what the orchestra music requires.

    Adequate preparation outside of lessons is expected. Just showing up for your lesson is not enough. Generally (and at a minimum) this includes: daily quality time spent physically playing the instrument, listening to the piece(s) being studied, attending musical events in your community, learning about all different types of music, and deciding that you're going to do whatever it takes to play well.

Studio Expectations, or Things That Will Get You Fired

    Violinnovation has been from the beginning and will continue to be a "No Contract" studio. I don't require a commitment beyond the number of lessons for which a student has paid. Perhaps I should; after all, it isn't a very good business model. However, I have always run on the assumption that if you're taking violin lessons, you're serious about playing to the best of your ability. I've discovered over twenty years of teaching, however, that seriousness is relative. My time is valuable also and there are some things that I can't tolerate. Please note that if we have to start dealing with these behaviors on this short but important list on a regular basis, they are grounds for dismissal from the studio at my discretion:

    1. Any kind of behavior inappropriate for the age of the student, the context of the lesson or the nature of the teacher/student relationship.

    2. Failure to practice what was assigned, on a regular basis.

    3. Failure to practice at all for the recommended amount of time, on a regular basis.

    4. More than two absences in a semester (especially no-prior-notice no-shows)

    5. Failure to make reasonable individual progress.

Minors and Webcam Lessons

To protect your child's safety and mine, all webcam lessons for minors (and some local lessons) will utilize multiple age-appropriate levels of security. These are in addition to any regulations imposed by your local school district. Webcam parents must agree to this policy during the initial registration process.

For students through sixth grade, a parent, school teacher, guardian or aide must be present and in camera range for the lesson. The lesson cannot begin until the adult is present.

Parents, grandparents or guardians of students seventh grade and above are encouraged and welcome to attend lessons at any time.

The lesson may be recorded on my end for quality control or training purposes, with permission of student and/or parent.

Local students may record or request recording to help with practicing.


There will be at least one formal studio recital per school year, where practical. The date(s) will be posted well in advance and all students are expected to prepare and participate to the best of their ability.

Performance pieces are chosen from review pieces and must be approved by me before the performance. A checklist may be used to check for quality. Pieces not meeting the checklist criteria will not be approved (i.e., the student will not be able to perform on the recital). Students are encouraged to choose pieces that they really enjoy playing.

All recital selections will be performed from memory, with appropriate accompaniment.

Other performances may be scheduled when opportunities arise.

Recital attire: church clothes are fine. Students are welcome to go as dressy as they like.

It is highly recommended that you practice your recital piece several times wearing your performance attire, including shoes.