Studio Policy 2017-2018

Enriching lives through the gift of music in an engaging, encouraging and inspiring environment – this is the goal of the Sheila Dacus Piano Studio. Students of all ages are guided in learning the skills to discover and develop their musical voice at the piano through private lessons, music tech time, musicianship classes and varied performance opportunities. We strive for excellence while developing poise, confidence and self-discipline. 
 A well-rounded music education will give the student a love for and the ability to be at home with the language of music.  Piano study paves the way for a lifetime of musical enjoyment.
To ensure the musical progress of your child, please read the following information carefully.


  • Prospective students are interviewed in a complimentary lesson to assess readiness and placement before being accepted into the studio or placed on a waiting list. 
  • Enrollment is understood to apply for the entire studio calendar year of 36 lesson weeks (end of August through June)
  • Enrollment is complete when the enrollment form is completed, signed and returned along with payment of the $50 enrollment fee (maximum $100 per family).
  • Submission of the enrollment form and fee by July 1 reserves your child’s place in the studio for the upcoming year.
  • New students may enroll at any time during the year; the enrollment fee and tuition will be prorated to reflect the number of lessons the student will receive.
  • Lessons are a total of 1 hour in length each week.
  • Students receive a 45-minute private lesson plus 15-minute Music Tech Time.
  • Musicianship classes meet in lieu of the private lesson approximately 6 times during the school year, usually the week of a Monday holiday or recital.
  • Private Lessons   
  • A quality, comprehensive curriculum is customized for each student, focusing on reading, repertoire, interpretation, healthy technique, practical theory, and musicianship skills.  A wide variety of music styles is offered including classical, sacred and jazz.  Manipulatives, movement and learning games are incorporated to address a variety of learning styles.  Incentives reward practice and celebrate accomplishment
  • Music Tech Time
  • Before or after the private lesson, students engage in technology which reinforces the concepts they are learning via computer, iPad apps, digital piano, and audio/video recordings. The studio subscribes to Piano Maestro which may be accessed at the studio and at home (iPad only).
  • Musicianship Classes
  • Small, informal group classes provide a supportive and fun atmosphere for performance, creative work, ensembles, musicianship skills, music theory and history, games and camaraderie.
  • Part of the joy of learning music is sharing it with others along with supporting fellow musicians.
  • All students perform in the Studio Recitals. Participation is required unless the student is out of town:
    • Ensemble Extravaganza  OR Christmas Piano Party
    • Spring Piano Celebration
    • Pops on the Patio
  • Based on teacher recommendation, other opportunities are available to motivated students through the Raleigh Piano Teachers Association and the North Carolina Music Teachers Association. These may include
    • RPTA Young Artists Auditions (recommended for most students)
    • NCMTA Performance Festival (intermediate and advanced students)
    • RPTA Student Musicales
  • Other opportunities will be announced.
  • A non-refundable enrollment fee ($50/student; maximum $100 per family) is due July 1 and reserves you child’s place in the studio for the upcoming year.
    • Covers the student notebook, assignments, handouts, studio awards, recital expenses, digital music licenses, and access to the lending library for sight reading and ensemble music.
  • 2017-2018 tuition for the studio year (August through June) is $1500 divided equally into 10 monthly payments of $150, due and payable in advance on or before the first lesson of the month, September through June. Alternatively, annual tuition may be divided into two installments of $750 payable September 1 and February 1. 
  • Charges for new music and any participation fees will be invoiced.  The instructor purchases most music for the students’ convenience.
  • The student who enrolls at the beginning of the year is guaranteed that I will be prepared and present to teach 36 weeks per year (30 private lessons and 6 group lessons) from the end of August through June. 
  • Students may take additional lessons at $41 per lesson.
  • Checks (made out to Sheila Dacus) and cash are accepted.  NSF checks are charged $25.
  • Scholarships are available for students who qualify through MusicLink (
  • Your tuition reserves a regularly scheduled time for you. 
  • If you are unable to keep your appointment no refunds or credits can be given, but with advance notice (24 hours if possible, before 10:00 a.m. if the child is ill) and a valid excuse, a lesson may be rescheduled if an opening becomes available or during musicianship class week.
  • A valid excuse would involve illness or being out of town.  Please do not send a student to a lesson with a temperature.  Any lessons missed without prior notice will not be rescheduled
  • Musicianship Classes cannot be made up.
  • Please notify the instructor via text during teaching hours, as I do not check email or answer the phone while teaching.
  • Students may trade private lesson times if needed with a schedule of students provided to studio families for them to make arrangements.  Please notify the instructor of any swaps.
  • The studio does not close due to weather; please use your judgment for travel.  Students who are unable to attend due to illness or weather may opt to take their lesson at their regularly-scheduled time via Skype or FaceTime.
  • Flex weeks are weeks of unscheduled time off that I may choose to use for personal or professional reasons.
  • These flex weeks are days off that you do not pay for as I will be certain that I am scheduled to teach 36 weeks during the year.
  • In the event that I need to use a flex week, I will inform you via email or text.
  • Students are expected to make regular practice a priority in their weekly schedule. 
  • Consistent and effective practice is the key to progress, and learning how to practice efficiently is an important part of piano study.
  • Minimum practice time requirement is three times the student’s age, 5 days a week.
  • The most effective practice is done as soon after the lesson as possible.
  • Students are responsible to complete all practice assignments and accurately record it on their assignment sheet. 
  • Theory should be completed at the beginning of the week and technique practiced daily. 
  • Students are responsible for bringing all music and assignments to all lessons.
  • Parental involvement in home practice is crucial for student success.  Parents need to help students to establish and stick to a practice routine, and see that practice time is free of interruptions and distractions.  Please encourage and support your child, give lots of praise for accomplishments, and most importantly, actively listen to his/her practice. 
  • Parents are responsible for assigned listening for younger students.
  • Parents should review the assignment with their child and initial the practice record.  Parents of elementary-aged students should plan to sit with their student during at least a portion of their daily practice time. 
  • It is especially effective (and enjoyable) to have your student give you a mini-concert by playing through their assignment the night before a piano lesson.
  • Please see that fingernails are kept short at all times (nails do not extend past the fingertip) in order to develop a healthy technique.  Because of risk of injury to the wearer and damage to the piano, students with acrylic nails will not be allowed to play studio pianos.
  • The bench must be at the proper height (bottom of arm level with the key surface) with support provided for the feet if they cannot rest on the floor.  This is absolutely crucial to proper, healthy playing. 
  • Students should have a metronome (or metronome app), a recording/playback device, and access to the internet for listening assignments.
  • Various apps will be recommended for home use; please download and use as assigned.
  • A well-maintained acoustic piano at home is essential for success.  Keep your piano in good working condition with all the keys and pedals working, and have it tuned at least once a year.
  •  Full-sized digital pianos (with 88 weighted keys, full-sized pedals, a music stand and bench) are acceptable for the earliest stages only of piano study but cannot replicate the responsiveness of a good acoustical instrument.  Digital pianos will hamper the student’s technical and musical progress.
  • Keyboards are fun and have their place, but are not usable in developing appropriate technique.
  • Families should plan to invest in a quality acoustical piano.  I am happy to work with families in purchasing a good piano at a price they can afford.
  • During student and group gatherings, recitals and other performances the teacher reserves the right to use video recording or to take photographs of students for use in the studio newsletter, advertising materials, lesson demonstration, Facebook, YouTube and/or Vimeo, and studio owned websites.
  • Photos taken by the teacher OR that are shared with the teacher by other parents or students of gatherings or performances become the property of the studio and can be used at the discretion of the teacher in regards to the studio. The studio follows online safety rules in this matter.  There will be no public ID of students.
  • It is expected that a student will study for the full studio year from the end of August through June.
  • If lessons must be discontinued, 30 days notice is required and a month’s tuition will be due from the date notice is given. Notice should be given in person
  • No refunds are given.
  • The teacher reserves the right to dismiss a student who is frequently absent, has an uncooperative attitude, shows a lack of lesson readiness, or is practicing insufficiently to benefit from the lessons.
  • Teacher training, formal education and experience
  • Time spent with the student
  • Time spent in preparation for the student:  Travel to the music store, lesson planning, bookkeeping, development of curriculum
  • Time spent working at student events (4-8+ hours per event)
  • Professional organization memberships
  • Professional journals and books
  • Instruments and upkeep
  • Studio expenses
  • Website and studio management fees
  • Student use of computers, iPads, digital pianos
  • Online subscriptions for student study
  • Reference and music library for student use
  • Property taxes, self-employment taxes, insurance, retirement
  • Continuing education:  conferences, seminars, webinars, study