1. How do Custom Music Lessons’ prices compare to other studios?
    Custom Music Lessons in each of its five cities is the most inexpensive music teaching studio. When we do have a price increase it is usually minimal and is generally in line with increases found elsewhere. Our prices recently increased in 2013-2014 and will not rise again in the near future.
  2. How well does Custom Music Lessons pay its teachers?
    On average, Custom Music Lessons pays its teachers more per hour than the other studios pay. We pay the teachers as much as we possibly can because we want the best teachers to come to our studio. We also have other incentives and perks for teachers because we hold our teachers year after year.
  3. What are our teacher’s credentials?
    Our teachers have varying credentials. About 500 prospective teachers apply to us every year. Only a small fraction come on to teach for us. Our teachers have to be great with kids and people in general. Our teachers are trained in all kinds of musical styles and are flexible to teach whatever music styles and different learning approaches students want.
  4. How often are lessons? 
    We offer three different schedules to our students, which can vary depending on the teacher. The most typical schedules are half-hour weekly, one-hour biweekly or our new forty-five minute "triplet" schedule. We highly recommend the latter as it is a very nice balance between half-hour and one-hour lessons, plus students get a week off every month that coincides with a stat holiday. This is great for families that travel during school breaks as they have fewer lessons to make-up throughout the year.
  5. Do you do make-up lessons?
    Our official policy states that in-studio students are allowed five (5) make-up lessons per year. Due to the complexity of travel schedules, make-up lessons are not allowed for in-home students. However, all of our teachers are encouraged to make-up lessons where possible. Our policy is simply in place to prevent abuse of the system.
  6. How long are we committed to have lessons?
    New students are committed for the duration of their chosen registration package. This could be 3-, 6- or 10-months. After this they are considered "returning students". Returning students are not committed as long as they have given proper notice of 30 days or have cancelled prior to August 25 of the current year.
  7. How long does it take to get competent on the instrument?
    Usually it takes between 1-3 years depending on the background of the student. For young guitar students, they usually take longer.
  8. Should I be worried about reading music notation?
    No, you should not, at least not right away. For popular music, notation is rarely used. When students have command of the instrument and can play music, they can begin to learn theory and notation. Otherwise, focusing on notation can take away from fun and enjoyment. Eventually, once they're comfortable with the instrument, they can then focus on notation. Think of it as a language. We first learn to speak before learning to read and write.
  9. Should my child study classical music?
    Some students want to learn classical music but most children do not like or appreciate it. Classical music is usually an acquired taste and when students are sufficiently competent, sometimes they develop an interest in it. Caution is needed here. Many young students are forced into the RCM (Royal Conservatory Method with the classical repertoire) but feel resentment and develop a dislike for music and the instrument as such.
  10. Why should lessons be fun?
    Students learn better and faster when lessons are fun. There is a great chance that they will develop a life-long interest in music also. When lessons or a canon or music is forced upon a student, there is a greater chance of developing a major resistance to it.
  11. How do you develop the curriculum?
    This is done in consultation with the instructor. We encourage students to be active in making demands on teachers and determining what, how and at what pace they learn.
  12. Where are you located?
    We are no longer centralized in any city. We deliver lessons either as in-home lessons or out-of-home at teacher studios. Decentralization allows us to respond to the need or desire most folks have for lessons within 10 to 15 minutes of their homes. Centralized locations and office buildings often deliver lessons in cubicles, offices as such. This is not the best environment for learning to play an instrument.
  13. How do we pay?
    The most popular ways of paying are by post-dated cheque or pre-authorized debit. We also accept Visa or MasterCard. Since September 2013, we have been offering a $1.00 per half-hour discount to clients who use post-dated cheques or pre-authorized debit. We do this because we save money on credit card fees, so we pass those savings on to our clients. Some folks pay by Bank Note or Money Order as well. Under no circumstances can we accept cash payments and our teachers are not permitted to accept payments of any sort.
  14. When can we start lessons?
    Students can begin soon after they register. If we have them registered and we have a registration deposit and payment information, they can start within days of registering.
  15. How old does the student have to be to start?
    This depends on the instrument. Students can start on piano as young as 3 ½ but with the guitar students need to be at least 6 years old in most cases. For voice lessons, students usually have to be 6 and for drums, students can start as early as 5. Some students are physically and mentally advanced for their age and may be able to start earlier.
  16. What are the fees or rates?
    Fees range from city to city and from teacher to teacher. Many of our teachers are able to provide lessons from their homes, conveniently located in various areas all over the cities which we serve. To provide you with lessons in your home, we charge an extra travel fee of $4 - $7 (depending on the city) on top of our already competitive rates. For more information, please check out our "Rates" section.
  17. Is there a registration fee?
    Yes. It is $35.00 for new students and per family. For all registrations after January 1, 2013, there is also a $10/student registration fee, payable per year to a maximum of $30/family.
  18. What does the registration fee do?
    It covers students for any lessons they have to miss due to sickness or having to reschedule for other reasons.
  19. Do you hold recitals at the end of the year?
    Not routinely. Some teachers will do this but we do not recommend this. One recital per year does not help students learn to perform. It is usually a way to impress parents. If parents do not know how their learner is doing, a recital is not a good way to learn this. Parents should be involved in their child’s learning. Also, recitals take away from learning, like standardized testing. Teachers are often reduced to test coaches.
  20. Do our teachers follow the RCM method and prepare students for the examinations?
    Yes, some of our teachers do. Students must inquire about this with the respective teacher.
  21. How flexible are the scheduled meetings?
    There is usually much flexibility. Some students require a lot of make-up lessons. Some students work shifts and need a very flexible schedule. Flexibility is dependent on several factors, including how booked the teacher is, whether the lessons are in-home and time of year.
  22. Do you offer summer lessons?
    Not all of our teachers teach in the summer, but yes some do. There is often limited availability for these lessons.
  23. Will teachers help students learn to write their own music?
    Yes, but only some teachers will do this.
  24. Can students learn the music they like?
    Yes they can and they are encouraged to take music they want to learn to their teachers. However, some teachers integrate only so much of this into their lessons.
  25. What is learning to play by ear?
    Opposed to learning to play by notation or notes on a manuscript, playing by ear is a process of listening to music on any instrument and picking out the notes this way. Typically this involves hearing the notes and then finding them and playing them in correct time frame. It also means being capable of picking out the instrument from the arrangement. Playing this way always musicians to learn how to play and reproduce the dynamics of the part and develop a feel for HOW to play the notes. Most professional musicians in popular and contemporary music have this technique mastered.
  26. Why do some teachers teach out of their homes?
    Most teachers will teach from their homes if they are close to areas where many students live. Teachers often also have access to better instruments and studio facilities and this makes for more comprehensive lessons.
  27. How well are our teachers paid?
    Even though our lessons generally cost less than the other studios in the city, our teachers are paid better than other music teaching studios. This is because we get the best teachers.
  28. How long have you been in business?
    Since 1991 with Custom Music Lessons but we are the second generation of the Arcade Music Centre in the 1950s (which used to be Hall Fairfield Music Centre in the 1940s)
  29. How satisfied are your students?
    Very satisfied because we tailor lessons to each student. We have many students back year after year and most of our new students are references from other students.
  30. Do you have any student testimonials?
    Yes we do. There are student testimonials on our website.
  31. Is it better to start on acoustic or electric guitar?
    Students should start on electric because acoustic is harder to play and manipulate. It is much harder to depress strings on an acoustic guitar. Also electric guitars are smaller and the strings are typically narrower than acoustic guitars. Electric guitars are very versatile. They can be used to play any kind of music. While they are best used with an amplifier, they do not have to be.
  32. At what age should a child start to learn guitar?
    6 years old.
  33. At what age should a child start to learn piano?
    As early as 3 and a half.
  34. At what age should a child start to learn voice?
    6 years old.
  35. Do you offer group lessons?
    In rare occasions, family members or friends want to have group lessons. They are not routine for us. The more members of the group, the less each member pays per lesson.
  36. Why are private lessons best?
    One on one learning makes the best us of the half hour lesson session. Instruction can be tailored to the student and the student learns much more than in a group setting. They can proceed at their own pace and have the undivided attention of their teacher.
  37. How often should my child or the learner practice?
    There is no strict formula but practicing should be regular, every day ideally and for at least 15 minutes. The more practice, the more the learner progresses and improves. However, we do not encourage parents to "force" their children to practive. Often times children will resist practicing and this is completely normal. When learning, children need to move at their own pace. By keeping them in lessons on a regular basis and keeping the atmosphere light and enjoyable, a time will come when they will begin to practice on their own.
  38. Why should my child or anyone learn to play music?
    Playing music adds enjoyment to life. It can enhance the learner’s school performance. It is good for spatial reasoning, studies indicate and can lead to a life-long pursuit and interest.
  39. What are the benefits of learning music?
    Playing music makes areas of the brain develop faster.

    Research by Rauscher and her colleagues in 1994 showed that after eight months of keyboard lessons, preschoolers demonstrated a 46% boost in their spatial reasoning IQ, a skill important for certain types of mathematical reasoning.

    In particular, it is early music training that appears to most strengthen the connections between brain neurons and perhaps even leads to the establishment of new pathways. But research shows music training has more than a casual relationship to the long-term development of specific parts of the brain too.
  40. Can anyone be too old to learn music?
    Only if they have a medical condition that prevents them from learning or playing. Many seniors not only enjoy lessons but it can improve their minds and memories.
  41. What if my child hates lessons?
    In this case, we would recommend discontinuing lessons until the child expresses interest in starting again. We do not think children should be pushed to the point they feel ill about taking lessons. But parents should encourage students to stick with it because without this commitment they cannot see the fruits of their work. They do not see that they accomplish anything.
  42. My child or I do not seem to be progressing quickly enough. Why?
    Learning occurs at different paces. There is no formula to determine whether this is too slow or too quickly.  One cannot compare oneself to another. Some learners take more time than others. Recent research seems to support that become a master at anything requires a certain amount of time. This is a rather large number. 10,000 hours. But, progressing is not uniform or measurable or objective.
  43. Can I determine what I learn?
    Yes you can. You can talk with your teacher about learning music that you enjoy and want to learn.
  44. What if I do not have a rapport with my teacher?
    Some students require a certain rapport and if they do not have it many of them will switch teachers. We do not encourage learners to quickly change teachers because it can lead to a habit of changing teachers for change alone. Teachers are as different as students and sometimes students learn a great deal from a teacher with whom they have very little rapport.
  45. Is a rapport important?
    Yes it is very important because a good relationship with your teacher will help motivate and inspire you to learn and practice your instrument.
  46. Can I first meet the teacher?
    Many teachers will do “Meet and Greets.” Some students will do a trial lesson, though they will pay for this. Some students are fine just having a talk with the teacher over the phone.
  47. Do I need an instrument in my home?
    To learn and advance properly, some practice is necessary. For in-home lessons, students require an instrument at their homes.
    For some voice teachers, a piano or keyboard is also required. Please speak to your teacher to see if it is necessary for them.
  48. Can I use a keyboard or digital piano instead of a full size piano?
    Young beginners sometimes start on portable keyboards with less than half the number of keys on a full size piano. Most digital pianos have the full 88 keys. It is recommended to use a keyboard with keys that are weighted and feel like a real piano.
  49. Can I cancel a scheduled lesson?
    Yes you can and in most cases you can make-up that lesson. Students need to contact their teachers as early as possible. If they have a travel teacher, then they need to contact the teacher before the teacher starts their travels for the day.
  50. What do I do if a teacher does not show up for a lesson and does not call me first?
    Call the office and let us know. Or, email us. They are many reasons why teachers cannot make the lesson. Sometimes they run into traffic problems or have car problems. Not every teacher carries a cell phone. Sometimes teachers have emergencies. They will try to call if they can.
  51. What if my learner loves the lessons but does not practice regularly?
    Many students or youngsters get involved in sport or extracurricular activities but do not like or wish to practice. This is natural. Many who play hockey or organized sport are in the same boat. Parents often think that this is good reason to discontinue lessons. We encourage parents to be more patient. So many students go through this phase and turn out to be skilled and professional musicians.
  52. How do I cancel my registration?
    If you register and cancel before lessons begin, you need to call us. A penalty for late cancellation could apply. If you wish to discontinue lessons after your initial registratino period, we require one month prior notice before students end.  If they do not inform us of discontinuation, then student fees still apply.
  53. Can I change teacher once I start?
    Yes and we do our best to match student to teacher.
  54. Can I change my lesson time and day?
    Yes, but please communicate this to your teacher. Communication is a key component of learning. Share your needs and interests with your teacher.
  55. Should I bring my guitar to the lesson?
    Yes, you will need to bring your guitar or bass guitar to the lesson.  You don’t need to bring your amplifier to lessons though.
  56. Will the teacher show me how to tune the guitar?
    Yes they will. If they do not show you, just ask them to do this. You can also buy a $12.00 tuner that the teacher can show you how to use. This is helpful to use before you learn to tune the guitar by ear yourself.
  57. What can I expect in my first lesson?
    Teachers want to get to know students to determine what they know and what level they are at. They like to start developing a rapport with the student also. They like to discuss what the student wants to learn and his/her interest. Some teachers will start right into the material. Others will introduce the new student to their instrument.
  58. How does the registration process work?
    When students or parents schedule a lesson with a teacher or agree to a schedule with a teacher, we require information from them. They can enter this on the website, send this to us via email or call us. Once they are in our system, we will send out a welcome package by regular mail or information by email.  Once students are registered, they are committed for the duration of their chosen package. Any cancellation at this stage will result in a penalty fee.
  59. How do I register for lessons?
    On our website you can register by clicking on the "Register Now" tab. You can also call or email us and we can send the registration waiver to you by email.
  60. How does Custom Music Lessons pair student with teacher?
    Pairing is done based on student priority, whether it is to have a teacher of the same musical style as the student, a teacher with a certain disposition or teaching style, a teacher close in location to the student, etc. Sometimes we ask two or three teachers to follow up with a student so that they can decide which teacher is the best fit. We want our students to look forward to their lessons, so matching students to the right teacher is of utmost importance to us.
  61. Are summer lessons conventional?
    No they aren’t but they are becoming more popular each year, especially for guitar students and other students who don’t want to stop taking lessons in the summer because they enjoy it so much.
  62. Why do we follow the public school schedule from September to June?
    Most of our students are school children and traditionally in music lesson delivery this has been a convention dating back many decades. While we are not called a school, music lessons are commonly considered schooling in the arts. In Great Britain, musical education is very much a part of schooling and tuition is exchanged from student to school.
  63. Do you have any deals or packages for families?
    Yes we do, depending on the situation.
  64. What is your curriculum?
    The curriculum is different for each student and this is devised between the teacher and the student, following a student’s wishes.
  65. What quality of instrument should my beginner start on?
    For guitar especially but all the others, we recommend that beginner students start with an intermediate quality instrument, not the cheapest or the most basic. This is because very often these instruments are not very playable. They make learning more difficult and can be an impediment to having fun. For piano, it is best for them to have a keyboard with at least 44 keys but for little ones, almost any keyboard will suffice.
  66. How should parents be involved in their child’s music lessons?
    Parents should be active but not too pushy. They should know how their learner is progressing. Parents these days are more involved in general in their child’s activities. We are concerned that this is often overbearing. For out of home lessons, parents should almost always accompany their child or children to the lessons and even sit in. Parents need to be encouraging guides.
  67. I have not heard back from a teacher yet. What should I do?
    Please give us a call into our office in the appropriate city.
  68. In what cities do you operate?
    Currently, we operate in 5 major cities: Winnipeg, Saskatoon, Regina, Edmonton and Calgary. We also have a satellite location in Asquith, SK, and we provide in-home lessons in Delisle, SK. Lessons are also available in St. Albert, Stony Plain and Spruce Grove, AB. We have plans for adding more locations in the near future. Also, if you are interested in music lessons in your town and you are within 40kms of one of our major cities, we'd be happy to work with you to build our presence in the area. All we require is 2 - 3 hours of teaching time on a regular basis and some time to find a teacher able to accommodate you. Please feel free to give us a call to discuss this.