Niki Knowlton's Music Studio Policy

Parental Involvement

In order for piano to be enjoyable for your child he/she must understand that it is a privilege for them to take lessons.  Your child's enthusiasm will wear off over time as they realize that a lot of work and effort is required on their part.  As initial enthusiasm is replaced by awareness of the discipline and commitment required to attain excellence, your encouragement and praise will be essential to your child's success. In addition to this, please:

  • Set aside a regular practice time. Students are expected to devote at least 45-60 minutes to daily practice (4-5 times per week is sufficient). Young beginners require less practice time – 15-30 minutes 4 or 5 days a week is recommended. This time must be regular and free of interruption to achieve practice goals. It is strongly urged that on the day of the lesson the student practices for one short session after the lesson to solidify what they learned.

  • Supervise home practice sessions and check practice journals, making sure your child completes all assignments. A practice record is required of all students and will be kept in the assignment book I provide to them. 

  • Provide feedback and suggestions for me that will increase the
    effectiveness of each lesson.

  • Ensure that your child arrives at their lesson at the appropriate time – (not too early, not late).

  • Check your email and visit the studio website frequently for updates and information about lessons and billing.

Student Responsibilities

  • Complete daily practice and accurately record it in practice journal

  • Refer to assignment book daily to ensure that nothing is overlooked

  • Be prepared for lesson (with all books and completed theory or other projects)

  • Piano students should keep fingernails trimmed short (should not extend past the end of the finger) to ensure proper hand position and good technique


Students who establish good practice habits from the beginning will progress more rapidly and find piano practice and lessons more enjoyable. The amount of time required for good quality practice will vary depending on the student’s age and playing level.  More importantly, however, is that practice is done on a consistent daily basis with a clear goal in mind.  During the lesson, I write on each student’s assignment sheet the things I expect them to practice and prepare for their next lesson.  I include specific practice instructions based on the areas of study and pieces they are working on.  There are seven basic reasons that a student does not practice.

I am responsible for the first three:

  1. The student does not know how to practice.
  2. The study pieces are either boring (too easy) or frustrating (too hard).
  3. The student is required to work exclusively on music that is unappealing.

Parents are responsible for the next three:

  1. Practice sessions are not specifically scheduled into the day.
  2. Practice is scheduled when other family members or friends are engaged in distracting activities.
  3. The instrument is not in reasonable condition and/or the practice room is not comfortable.

The student is responsible for the most common reason:

  1. The student must develop a character quality – discipline – in order to learn to schedule priorities and to understand that there is not always enough time in the day to do everything, but must choose wisely those activities which are most important.

In the event that regular practice is not being completed, I will work with the student (and parent, if necessary) to determine the cause and possible solutions.


Tuition & Makeup Lessons

Please note the following guidelines that will enable me to focus more of my attention on my students and less on record keeping.

  • How often and how long are lessons? Private lessons occur weekly and are available for half hour or hour long sessions.  In general, young or beginner students take half hour lessons, while older or intermediate to advanced students are encouraged, but not required to take an hour long lesson.

  • How much is tuition? Please contact me for current tuition rates. Some discounts are awarded for various circumstances, particularly for families with more than one child taking lessons.  I also give referral discounts to current students. Ask me for more information.

  • How is tuition calculated? Students pay a flat-rate tuition to reserve their time slot in the teacher’s lesson schedule each month. The monthly rate does not change even when there are 5 lessons in a month rather than the usual 4 and allows for 8 total lessons missed during the year - these include 5 built in vacation weeks: Spring (1), Fall (1), Thanksgiving (1) & Christmas (2) Breaks as well as 3 other canceled or missed lessons by the teacher for any reason.

  • What if I need to cancel a lesson? Please make an effort to contact me as soon as possible if you must cancel or miss a lesson. In general, there will be no refunds for missed or canceled lessons unless cancelled by the teacher on short notice, but I will work together with the student to try to make-up or reschedule canceled lessons if at all possible. Please do not come to a lesson sick. This puts my other students and my family at risk of infection as well as myself. If you are sick, please request a make-up lesson. 

  • What if I need to take an extended break from lessons? If you plan to be gone for a couple weeks, just let me know and I'll hold your appointment time until you return. My vacations work the same way. Leaving lessons for a month or more is a Leave of Absence and may necessitate a new appointment time when you return unless you wish to pay a monthly lesson reservation fee (contact me for more information).

  • How am I charged? Monthly Tuition is pre-paid and is due the first lesson of each month. Automatic Invoices are sent via email mid-month showing charges to each student for the upcoming month.  Actual charges may change depending on book purchases and the occasional credit. If monthly payment is not made before the 15th, your account will be automatically be billed at a rate of 10% on the amount owed each month that payment is not received.

  • How do I pay? Tuition is preferred by check or cash, but can be made using a credit/debit card through Stripe by clicking the link in your invoice that says, 'click here to pay online.'  A small convenience fee will be charged for Stripe transactions, but can be set up to do automatic payments if you wish. Please make checks payable to “Niki Knowlton”.

The Piano

  • Please check out the "Finding a Piano" panel on the right side on this page to help you buy a piano if you do not already possess one.

  • You must have a piano or full-sized keyboard (88 keys) available to you, preferably in your home.  A real acoustic piano is strongly recommended as nothing can take the place of its touch and sound.

  • If you do get an electric keyboard instead of an acoustic, be sure that it has...
    • weighted keys (they play louder when you use more force and softer when you use less), if they are too easy to press it will result in finger weight confusion, especially in a young child.
    • full 88 key keyboard
    • a pedal (you can buy one for $10-20 if your piano does not come with one.
    • some sort of stand to hold up music.

  • A piano should, ideally, be tuned twice a year with regular use – spring and fall are the best times.

  • To prevent excessive collecting of dirt and spreading of germs, it is recommended that users wash their hands before playing the piano. 

  • Place the piano in an area conducive to study and practice with good light and not in competition with the television or other activities of the family.

Obtaining Books & Necessary Supplies

  • Lesson Books – Your child will need 4-6 new books ($5-$15 ea.) approximately every six months, depending on their progress.  They may also need to purchase supplemental books at various intervals throughout the year.  Generally, I will purchase the books and charge them to your next bill.  I understand the expense that books can incur, and I will only choose those that I think are necessary and beneficial for your child’s progress.

  • Metronome – As your child progresses you will eventually need to purchase a metronome (approximately $20).  I will let you know when I think one is necessary. However, if you have an iPad or a Smart phone you can download an app. There are many metronome apps available now days.

  • Sturdy Carrying Case for Books & Supplies - those reusable grocery store bags work fantastically well!

  • Practice Journal/Assignment Book – You will need a Practice Journal/Assignment Book so that I can write down assignments for each week. Younger students who are using the Alfred’s Premier Piano Course need only to purchase the “At-Home” book that comes with their piano books.

Reasons for Dismissal

If any of the following situations persist after I have notified you and provided time to correct the problem, I regret that I will have to dismiss the student:

  • The student consistently demonstrates a lack of enthusiasm and willingness to participate during lesson time
  • The student consistently fails to show diligence and determination in home practice
  • Lack of dependability and commitment exhibited in persistent absences or chronic lateness
  • Failure to receive payments for lessons.

If you choose, for whatever reason, to discontinue lessons, please give at least two weeks prior notice

I will do the same.

Contact Information

Email:   Contact Me
Cell:      (423) 902-4841

I am available for any help you need; I am here to serve you. PLEASE do not hesitate to email me or give me a call if you have any questions.  Thank you for the opportunity to help your family make more music. – Niki

Music Studio Files

Benefits Of Music Education.pdf Benefits Of Music Education.pdf
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Type : pdf
Prayers for Niki - My Story FINAL.pdf Prayers for Niki - My Story FINAL.pdf
Size : 1434.739 Kb
Type : pdf
GCA__Winter_Cumb2.pdf GCA__Winter_Cumb2.pdf
Size : 928.387 Kb
Type : pdf
2009-12-Communique-web.pdf 2009-12-Communique-web.pdf
Size : 1949.308 Kb
Type : pdf

Finding a Piano

  • Piano Buying Tips - multiple tips on buying pianos.
  • Digital vs. Acoustic Pianos - Comparison of Digital vs. Acoustic piano features.
  • Piano Atlas : Gives dates of manufacture from the Brand name and the serial number. This book is great for determining the age of a used piano.
  • Piano Buyer : A new site from Larry Fine with information about buying new pianos. Includes a massive database of prices for all new pianos.
  • The Piano Book : Buying & Owning A New Or Used Piano, by Larry Fine.
  • The Piano Review : Helpful web site with ratings on major manufacturers of pianos

Practice Help

These documents, links and articles have great info to help you practice efficiently.

Treble-Clef-Note-Name-Flashcards.pdf Treble-Clef-Note-Name-Flashcards.pdf
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Type : pdf
Bass-Clef-Note-Name-Flashcards.pdf Bass-Clef-Note-Name-Flashcards.pdf
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Type : pdf
Alfred's Premier Piano Course Online Assistance Videos - these are videos that directly correspond to the Premier Piano Lesson Book pages. There are videos for all levels!

Music Games & Entertainment

These games and apps will help you learn more about music and some will help you learn your notes better!