Frequently Asked Questions

Is my child ready for private lessons?

We always try to set students up for success by starting the right instrumet at the right time. This helps to avoid frustration that comes with choosing an instrument that is not developmentally appropriate. While readiness varies from child to child, here are some guidelines to help you consider if your child should begin private music studies:

  • Interest from the student
  • Commitment and readiness to practice everyday (student and family)
  • Commitment to attend a full year of lessons
  • Good quality instrument available for practice
  • Student is able to concentrate for a 30 minute lesson
  • Many families find it is easier for a student to study music once they are able to read
  • Musical Skills: Ability to maintain a steady beat, ability to accurately eccho a rhythm clapping or on a percussion instrument, ability to match pitch with the voice, ability to recognize high and low pitches, ability to understand expressiveness in music (music can create story, imagery, emotion)

How old should my child be to learn…

  • Pianois a great instrument choice for a young beginner who meets the above criteria (typically age 5-9)
  • Violin: is a great instrument choice for a young beginner who meets the above criteria (typically age 5-9)
  • Guitar: We recommend waiting until 9 years old due to physical demands of the instrument. Ukulele is a good option for younger students starting at about age 6
  • Drums: 7 years old is the best age to begin learning set drumming due to the size and complexity of the instrument. Hand drumming is a good option for younger students
  • Singing:  On average, 10 years old is a good age to begin private lessons for voice. Younger students can be coached on performance, but technique can be developed equally well in an ensemble at this younger age. More complex technique is not developed until the voice becomes more mature. 

What if we're not ready for private lessons?

There are lots of great ways to foster music appreciation and musical skill development before attending private lessons. Here are some of our recommendations:

  • Register for a group class
  • Attend a student or professional concert
  • Listen to a variety of music at home
  • Sing at home!

Procedure and Policy Questions

How do I book a private lesson?
Review our current policies and prices, then contact a SAM administrator by phone or online. Due to the personalized nature of each student's needs, we do not offer an online system for student bookings. All private lessons are booked in consultation with a SAM administrator to help you find the best fit for your needs. 

What happens when I am sick?
Illnesses are unpredictable and unavoidable. Unfortunately, our standard policy of 10 days notice applies to absences due to illness. If a student struggles with a recurring illness, the teacher may offer some additional lesson time, but this is up to the discretion of the teacher and typically only under extenuating circumstances. Here is a great article explaining the rational behind our make up lesson policy.
 What happens when my teacher is sick?
If a SAM teacher has to cancel a lesson, they will contact their students to schedule make-up lessons or find a suitable substitute for their lessons that day. 
What happens if my lesson falls on a stat holiday?
SAM is closed on stat holidays. We have allotted several days at the end of each term (September – December, January-June) for teachers to schedule make-up lessons.
Do I get to make up missed lessons?
Students can qualify for make-up lessons if they have given SAM notice 10 days prior to the absent class.
Any classes cancelled without 10 days notice are not eligible for a refund or make up lesson. Cancellations must be by phone or email to SAM administration.
 How long are SAM’s semesters?
SAM runs on a yearly schedule, beginning in September and ending in June. Students also have the option of registering for an 8 week set, or drop in lesson if availability allows.

Getting Started

Where do I get an instrument?
Because music lessons require regular practice and exercise, students will need to have readily available access to the instrument they are learning. You may want to consider whether buying or renting an insturment is the best fit for your situation. 
Benefits of Renting an Instrument
  • Students who are unsure about a long-term commitment
  • Many businesses that rent instruments offer a rent-to-own program
  • Most businesses that rent instruments also offer free repair and service
  • Some instruments, such as the violin, require a new instrument each time the child grows
Benefits of Buying an Instrument
  • No contracts or rental agreements
  • Owning an instrument gives students a sense of commitment
  • Rent-to-own prices may be more expensive in the long run
  • Accoustic instruments typically hold value for resale
Recommended retail outlets for renting or purchasing an instrument:
Tom Lee:
North Vancouver- 801 Marine Drive #800
Downtown Vancouver- 929 Granville Street
Long & McQuade: 
North Vancouver- 1363 Main Street
Downtown Vancouver- 368 Terminal Avenue