Studio Policies

1249 Thomas Rd
Decatur, GA 30030


Dear Students and Parents:

The brilliant quote for the year is:

Among the many forces in which the human spirit has tried to express its innermost yearnings and perceptions, music is perhaps the most universal. It symbolizes humanities search for harmony, with oneself and others, with nature, and with the spiritual and physical world. – Dalai Lama

PARKING-please park on the street or in my driveway at the bottom. Please park in front of my house


Your lesson is scheduled for ____________at___________________. If you need to change days or times, please give me a call. Please let me know immediately if you are not planning to take lessons this year, so I may be able to take a student on my waiting list.

I NOW TEACH ZOOM, SKYPE AND FACETIME LESSONS AT THE SAME RATE- this is an easy way to have a lesson when you are at home through your computer or your phone or tablet.


These rates are in effect September 1, 2020

Tuition                        1 lesson                      3 lessons                 4 lessons

30 min piano               $34                              $102                         $136

45 min piano               $43                              $129                         $172

1 hour piano                $55                              $165                         $220

45 min harp                 $47                              $141                         $188

1 hour harp                 $60                              $180                        $240

Harp Rental                $65 per month


This is my preferred method of payment, I will accept checks and cash. If you want to use another payment method, please call me and we can discuss

To use VENMO , you will need to become a VENMO member, and install the app on your phone. You can do this at Once a member you can search for my name and follow the directions for payment.


Payments are due by the 25th of each month for the following month (example: pay on January 25 for February lessons). This is also when you give me your schedule for the next month


If you contact me 24 hours in advance of a lesson and cancel the lesson for the next day we will schedule a makeup lesson.  If you give me cancellation the day of the lesson you will lose your money  and there will be no makeup lesson Great times for makeup lessons are Spring Break week, the last week in May, on Holidays and mid-December.

If you miss a lesson without contacting me I will assume you don’t want your time slot.  If you move your time slot you will lose the old one. In case of bad weather, we will have a lesson unless I call you.


Notification of termination needs to happen at least one month before the intended end of lessons. Termination of lessons with less than one-month notice will be billed for the remaining time at the regular rate for lessons.


Virtual studio recitals on Zoom are held periodically -all students perform, piano and harp students. It will last 45 minutes. I will send you a Zoom link each time. After holding Group Lessons in person at Columbia Presbyterian Church for 15 years it became necessary due to Covid to have Zoom recitals. I held a Zoom Recital 12/13/20. Compliments from parents after the recital-“I was totally inspired by the level of playing from beginning to advanced.” “It was remarkable to hear and well organized.s

SUMMER – to hold your time slot take 6 lessons (starts the last week in May until the end of July). This is payable at the last week in May.

FALL FEST- I ask all piano students (adults and children, teens) to perform in Fall Fest sponsored by the Decatur Music Teachers Association, at Agnes Scott College (the Saturday before Thanksgiving) – a noncompetitive opportunity to play for a judge and get constructive positive feedback – costs $15


Once a student has been accepted for piano/harp it is expected that practicing is part of the agreement.

Parental encouragement and involvement is necessary for the success of the student.

PLEASE BE PROMPT for lessons with all materials and allow enough time to complete your lesson. When students are in a rush they are distracted and unable to focus

If objectives for the student are not clear, a conference during lesson may be necessary.

ONCE THE STUDENT BEGINS LESSONS it is expected they will complete the school year. You will purchase music books and notebooks-I will give you the name, address and phone of music stores.

PLEASE NOTIFY OF SCHOOL BREAKS AND HOLIDAYS. Please no food and drink during lessons

Please do the following before lessons begin on piano:

Have your piano tuned if you have an acoustic piano. I recommend Allen Cook 678-910-5343. Playing on an out of tune piano is confusing and frustrating.

If you have a harp, or rental harp, tune your harp carefully (I’m happy to teach you how to do this), change any broken strings (I can teach you how to do this too). If your harp needs regulating, I will be happy to help you schedule this.

FOR PARENTS-please do not give your child a snack of sugar and caffeine before the lesson, please do not send your child starving to a lesson.

If your child takes medication to help him/her sit still and concentrate, please make sure he/she has had an appropriate dosage before the lesson


Thank you so much for studying with me. It is a privilege to know you and to work with you week after week. I’m always open to feedback.

Advice to Parents of new Piano students – from Susan Ottzen 7/2/17

If you’re a parent who has no background in playing a musical instrument it’s easy to be overwhelmed by the number of things the piano teacher accidentally takes for granted along the way. Don’t be overly worried about this – the teacher won’t have enough time in each lesson to fill in all the gaps and still keep your child engaged and enthused about their learning, but as time passes you’ll become expert at supporting your child’s musical education.

The teacher will give your child clear instructions each week as to what is required, and you need to respect these instructions – which means you need to know what they are. Teachers traditionally give written practice notes, but these days some teachers may even make a quick video demonstrating the correct practice approach. Use whatever the teacher gives you as a guide for what will take place that week at home.

Your beginner student child should be learning new music almost every week. If your child isn’t learning new music almost every week (there will be weeks when new music isn’t assigned, but these should only be from time to time, not every second week) it means something isn’t going right with your child’s learning (probably due to issues with practice at home). Talk to the teacher about how you can better support the practice for pieces assigned for a second, third or even fourth week.

The lesson time is when you should talk to the teacher, not afterwards. The teacher will either have other students, other appointments, or a really short dinner break at the end of your child’s lesson. It’s not OK to expect the teacher to discuss matters with you outside of the lesson time as a matter of course. Make the odd phone call, feel free to send an enquiring email or text message, but the time directly after your child’s lesson is sacrosanct (and not dedicated to you). It might be the teacher’s only chance to use the bathroom in five hours.

Of course, if the teacher wants to talk to you then by all means, chat away, but don’t assume that the teacher has this time available otherwise.

Think long-term. In other words, don’t plan to ‘try’ piano for six months to see if it’s a good fit – if you want your child to learn to play the piano you need to be internally committing to at least three years of lessons and practice. Then you can reflect on how things are going. This isn’t about being a tiger parent, it’s about being realistic about what’s involved in gaining musical skills.

You may not realize how easy it is to play the piano, and at the same time how hard it is. There are very cool things students can easily learn to do at the piano which may give you the impression your child is a genius. Feel free to enjoy this sensation, but don’t be disappointed if the next week your child reverts to just being the cool, fabulous kid that you know and love. Some things that pianists do that appear easy are actually very hard, and some of the impressive things pianists do are ridiculously straight forward to execute (if your teacher just shows you how).

Grab every chance you get to sit in on your child’s piano lessons. You will be a hundred times more likely to be able to support your child’s practice if you’ve been observing the teacher working with your child throughout the lesson – from how to use the body (shoulders, elbows, wrists, fingertips, proper seating position, etc.) to how to practice each piece to getting to understand the lingo (staccato, arpeggio, inversion, etc.). You have the chance to get your own free tutoring just by sitting in on your child’s lesson!

Participate in studio recitals every chance you get. You will be amazed how much your child is motivated by playing at and attending recitals – they get to hear music being performed by more advanced students, and they begin to build programs of pieces they are comfortable performing. And don’t project any nervousness you may feel onto your child – children don’t know they are supposed to feel nervous unless you tell them (or they have an anxiety disorder, which is a completely different matter), and you have an opportunity to develop confident public presentation in your child in this musical setting.

Don’t believe everything you read on the internet. This one makes me smile, of course, because one assumes you’re reading this on the internet, and believing it.

The truth is that your teacher is going to be able to give you much better advice for your child than you will find chatting to random people/teachers on an internet forum or by searching YouTube for tutorials. If you don’t have a background in playing a musical instrument you won’t know what to trust and what is nonsense. Find a reputable teacher who you trust and like, and get educated (along with your child) and develop your capacity for discernment.

Share what you know about your child with the teacher. Does your child have a morbid fear of spiders? An allergy to cats? A learning disability or a processing disorder? Don’t wait for the teacher to figure it out by themselves – by sharing what you know about your child you won’t be preventing the teacher from building a positive relationship with your child, you’ll be facilitating immediately great learning experiences. Thing is this: piano teachers are fairly canny – because playing the piano is so holistic a learning activity you might even find that the piano teacher is alerting you to quirks in your child’s learning behaviors that will help you finesse their school-based learning! Piano teachers are often the first to notice problems with vision, dyslexia, problems with proprioception, processing problems, pronounced learning styles (which may be the basis for trouble in the classroom), even synaesthesia, simply because they are spending 30, 45 or even 60 minutes one-on-one with your child, and maybe this is the first chance your child has had for that kind of regular, professional adult attention. You and the teacher are a team working to make your child the best person he or she can be.