Waterloo Region's Finest Art Education Centre


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Below is a list of the questions we are asked most often. If you don’t see an answer to your question here, or if you require any clarification, feel free to contact us directly.

How do I sign up for lessons?

It’s easy! Simply fill out our Lesson Signup Form and we will take it from there. If you have questions regarding our lesson programs that aren’t answered here, you can also submit a quick Lesson Enquiry via the form. Or, you can simply Contact Us and we’d be happy to get you or your child enrolled and/or answer any questions that you may have.

What is the cost of each lesson?

Lesson prices are determined by each instructor individually, and are subject to change. Prices vary according to the length of the lesson, and the level of the student. Please contact us for current lesson rates.

Is there a registration fee?

No. We view registration fees as little more than a “cash grab” with no inherent value attached. As such, we charge no hidden fees beyond the cost of the lessons themselves.

What about HST?

Fortunately, all music lessons and classes (likewise KW Glee and KW YCB tuition) remain HST exempt.

Where are you located?

Renaissance School of the Arts is located on Lexington Court in Waterloo. Click here for the address and a map.

How does your fee schedule work? (i.e. when do I pay, and how often?)

For music lesson, payment is collected on a monthly basis, on the first lesson of each month, covering the number of lessons within that month. Other classes (KW Glee, KW YCB, etc.) are payable in advance per term. We prefer payment by cheque, made payable to Renaissance School of the Arts. Please note that cheques should not be made payable to the instructor. Post-dated cheques are acceptable. We also offer an e-transfer payment option in case you’re unable to pay by cheque.

Do I have to commit to a lengthy term?

For music lessons – no. Because of the fact that our fees are collected monthly, you are free to start lessons – or stop lessons – at any time. However due to the group nature of KW Glee, KW YCB, and other classes, a term commitment is required.

What if I need to cancel a lesson (i.e., if my daughter has the flu, or we have another commitment)?

We do not charge for cancellations of private music lessons, provided notice of cancellation is received 24 hours prior to the scheduled lesson; otherwise, the instructor is obligated to charge for the missed lesson. However, if the cancellation is due to illness, bad weather, or another unforeseeable reason – or if 24 hours notice has been given – we will credit the fee paid toward the following month’s lessons.

PLEASE NOTE: The intent of our flexible cancellation policy is to provide students and parents with a penalty-free way to cancel a scheduled lesson for primarily unusual circumstances. Instructors do have the right to charge for missed lessons if a student appears to be abusing this policy, or is repeatedly cancelling lessons for unacceptable reasons (“I am not prepared” is not an acceptible reason for a cancellation). At the instructor’s discretion, lessons may be terminated entirely. Please keep in mind that by repeatedly canceling a lesson, you are occupying a time slot that could be filled by a more reliable student, and taking income away from the instructor.

How often are the lessons?

Typically, music lessons take place once a week. Depending on your own goals and schedule availability – and at the discretion of your instructor – this can be adjusted. Some students prefer a single full-hour lesson bi-weekly, rather than a half hour each week, while others who are preparing for a competition or an audition may want lessons more frequently.

How long is each lesson?

Music lessons begin at 30 minutes in length and are adjusted upwards as the student’s skill and playing ability (and dedication) develops, at the discretion of the instructor.

Do you offer group music lessons?

Not generally, no. All of our music lessons are private, one-on-one with the instructor. This allows us to give greater attention to the individual student, and custom-tailor the learning experience. Students are then free to learn as quickly or as slowly as they feel comfortable, and can better reach their own learning potential.

Do I need to have my own piano (or flute, or guitar, or…)?

Yes, you must have your own instrument, in order to practice between lessons. With the exception of piano, the student is expected to bring their instrument to lessons as well. Whether you choose to buy an instrument or rent one is up to you.

I need to buy a piano (or a flute, or guitar, or…) – where is the best place to get one?

Renaissance School of the Arts does not sell or rent instruments in-house. However, we are able to offer advice as to where to go locally. Just give us a call (or drop us an email) – we’re happy to help.

Do you offer lessons throughout the summer?

Yes, at the discretion and availability of the instructor. Generally, students are encouraged to continue lessons throughout the summer, since it usually amounts to only 8 missed lessons (July and August). Often when a student stops studying for the summer, they stop practicing as well, and it takes another 8 lessons in the fall just to get back the playing ability they had at the end of the previous June.

Can I schedule lessons during the day (when my child is in school)?

Absolutely. According to Canada’s School Administration Act, a child is allowed to miss school, if doing so to attend a private music lesson.

The exact text, from Section 6, subsection 2 of the School Administration Act reads as follows:
“A child is excused from attendance at school if he [or she] is absent for the purpose of receiving instruction in music and the period of absence does not exceed one-half day in any week.”

Is there a minimum age for my child to begin lessons?

We generally expect a child to be at least 7 years old before commencing private lessons, although this is flexible, depending on the individual child and the discretion of the instructor. A student must be able to maintain focused attention for at least 30 minutes, and understand that a daily practice routine is expected. This minimum age does vary for different instruments, of course. A certain amount of upper body strength is required to play many of the brass and woodwind instruments (and it’s recommended that the student have all of their permanent teeth); a certain hand size is required to play the electric bass.

Is there a maximum age restriction?

Absolutely not. You are never too old to learn an instrument – that old adage about “old dogs and new tricks” is simply wrong! We have a great many successful adult students, many of whom didn’t begin lessons until after their retirement.

How much practicing am I expected to do?

There is no real minimum length of practice time; it depends to a certain degree on how quickly you would like to develop your skills and progress. The more you practice, the faster you learn, and the more quickly you become a better musician. In general, however, in the early years of lessons, we expect at least 30 minutes of practicing, every day of the week (including the day of the lesson). At the very beginning (until about the fourth lesson or so), less is permitted, as long as there is some practicing being done every day. It is more important that students practice every day than how much time they spend each day; if you miss one day, you cannot make up that missed time by practicing longer the next day. Depending on your choice of instrument, the general rule is this: if you miss one day of practice, it takes two days to make up what has been lost (and a third day before you begin to see improvement again). Likewise, if you miss two days, it takes four days to make it up, etc. As students progress in their playing ability, and their repertoire increases in difficulty, the expected amount of daily practice increases accordingly.

Are there any performance opportunities for students?

Twice a year, Renaissance School of the Arts holds recitals for all students, typically in mid-December and early-June. While each student is encouraged to perform, it is not mandatory.

For instrumental and vocal students, there are several local community bands, youth orchestras and choirs which you can join (your instructor can give you further details), as well as the annual Kitchener-Waterloo Kiwanis Music Festival, where all students can compete alongside others in their age group and ability level for prizes and scholarship awards.

Is there an admission cost for these recitals?

All of our music recitals are free of charge to students, parents, siblings, and anyone else who would like to attend. However, due to inherent production costs, our large-scale performances (KW Glee, KW YCB, etc.) do charge a reasonable admission fee.

Are your instructors Registered Music Teachers?

Several of our instructors are members of the Ontario Registered Music Teachers’ Association (ORMTA). For more information on ORMTA and its membership requirements, click below:

Ontario Registered Teachers’ Association

Which is better: Conservatory Canada or the Royal Conservatory of Music?

The short answer: Neither. Both. Conservatory Canada (based in London, Ontario) and the Royal Conservatory of Music (based in Toronto, Ontario) are essentially equal in all respects. Their grading systems are on par with one another (i.e., Grade 6 RCM is equivalent to Grade 6 CC, etc.), and high-level examination certificates from both are accepted as secondary school credits in Ontario.

The Conservatory Canada repertoire books were published locally by the Waterloo Music Company (much of the series was typeset by Flamingo Soup Music Publishing, the parent corporation of Renaissance School of the Arts) – currently published by Mayfair Music, while the Royal Conservatory repertoire books are published by The Frederick Harris Music Co., Ltd. The print quality of each of these series is comparable, although the Conservatory Canada books seem to offer a wider choice of repertoire for each grade in a single volume.

Should I (or my child) be taking Conservatory examinations?

Exams are recommended for students at different levels for different reasons, based on each individual student’s unique course of study. It is not necessary to prepare for an exam for every grade level. Your instructor can help you decide when it is appropriate to begin working on material in the next higher grade.

For those who wish to play an exam for every grade, you are certainly more than welcome. Please communicate those desires to your instructor. We do recommend that if a student reaches the Grade 6 level or higher, they play this and any subsequent exams, as these grades represent significant accomplishment.

Some of the higher grade certificates can count as secondary school credits. For details, click below:

Conservatory Canada

Royal Conservatory of Music

Ontario Ministry of Education

Should I (or my child) be competing in the K-W Kiwanis Music Festival?

As with Conservatory examinations, competing in the K-W Kiwanis Music Festival (or any similar music festival offered in the surrounding area) is up to you. It does offer an opportunity to perform prepared material at a high level, with the benefit of hearing your performance adjudicated by someone other than your teacher, as well as the opportunity to hear others in your age group performing at the best of their ability as well. It also offers a great motivation to practice, since performers are ranked against their peers. Plus, if a student performs particularly well, there is the benefit of potential scholarship awards, in amounts ranging from $50 to more than $500. Many of our students are recipients of such awards each year.

For more information, as well as a pdf copy of the current festival Syllabus, click below:

Kitchener-Waterloo Kiwanis Music Festival

When (and where) does the K-W Kiwanis Music Festival take place?

Typically, the K-W Kiwanis Music Festival is held toward the end of April, each year. The locations vary, as classes are held in churches and auditoriums around the Kitchener-Waterloo area.

For more information, click below:

Kitchener-Waterloo Kiwanis Music Festival