Steve Hacker's Music Lesson Policy

Steve Hacker's Music Lesson Policy

Lessons are to be paid for no later than the first day of the month without exceptions. After the 8th of the month, late fees will accrue. Some people are now paying for lessons a WEEK BEFORE the first (the last week of the previous month), and are post-dating checks for the first, which is the preferred method. This is an excellent idea, and I highly recommend it whenever possible. That way, you do not have to make an extra trip to the studio. Please also realize that the due amount at my studio in Bainbridge, GA is $80 per month ($150/month for those getting 1 hr per week instead of 30 minutes per week - a $10 discount), and is $90 per month ($170/month for those getting 1 hr per week instead of 30 minutes per week - a $10 discount) REGARDLESS OF HOW MANY LESSONS WERE RECEIVED IN PREVIOUS MONTHS. World-wide long distance lessons over Skype vary in cost because of the custom nature and needs of the client. Please contact me for details about your specific situation.

Payments can be made by  (in order of preference) cash, check, credit/debit card (a 3% fee, rounded up to the next whole dollar is applied to credit/debit card payments), and yes, believe it or not, I even do some VERY CREATIVE financing with people, which includes bartering/trading for goods and services. I make no bones about this, and I am proud of this fact. If we can create equal value for each other, and everyone wins, I am ALL FOR IT!

Standard fee payments are NON-REFUNDABLE, because this is about COMMITMENT and CONSISTENCY with a LIFE-LONG commitment to a goal that you are making, not about "buying a product"...See below... Remember that you are paying in advance for the reservation of the TIME SLOT, NOT the number of lessons you receive. There is a HUGE waiting list for my instruction. You are paying NOT for the lessons, but the reservation of my time so that someone else will not be signed up in your place. For what it is worth, please also realize that there are 4 months out of the year that have 5 weeks in them for every week day. This means that you can miss 4 lessons per year without receiving "make up lessons" and still get in the equivalent of the recommended 4 lessons per month. Of course, in instances of having been given a week or longer notice in advance of a missed lesson, I will certainly do what I can to accommodate make-up lessons, but these will be the exception and not the norm. If a make-up lesson is scheduled, it is on a one-chance-basis. This means that once a make-up lesson is scheduled, it cannot be rescheduled. If you cancel or miss the make-up lesson, it is permanently forfeited. I do not mind giving make up lessons at all, and sometimes, even extra lessons are fine, if clarification is needed, however, it is critical that you PATIENTLY REMIND ME at each lesson about any make up lessons that are needed, until they occur. It is simply impossible for me to keep up with each individual student's make up count, and it is also not unsual, because of my incredibly busy schedule, for make up lessons to occur well into the future beyond the actual missed lesson. Again, simply consistently remind me at lessons, until the make ups occur.

FINGER NAILS: Finger nails must be kept clean and short. The only exception would be the first four fingers of the right hand for classical guitar students. I have NO INTEREST in seeing your latest super-expensive custom-acrylic salon nail job you just had done, even if it was for your attendance in a wedding or a prom, and frankly, there is simply NO WAY YOU CAN PROPERLY PLAY MUSIC WITH THESE KINDS OF NAILS, or ANY KIND OF LONG NAILS, for that matter, again, with the exception of the first four fingers of the right hand for classical guitarists. No, Dolly Parton is NOT A REAL GUITARIST, and she open-tunes her guitars to CHEAT her playing around her nails. This is simply UNACCEPTABLE for my students. I will not allow it, and I will not allow you to dig super hard and long nails into my piano keys.

Please come to lessons with clean, freshly washed hands. There is simply no way to properly play a musical instrument ( not while maintaining respect for the instrument or the discipline ) with long finger nails or dirty hands. Keep nails short and hands clean, if not simply for technique reasons, for health and hygiene reasons. I personally prefer my nails to have no "white" showing whatsoever. Please also go to the bathroom BEFORE YOU ARRIVE AT THE LESSON, and please also have your instrument as in tune as possible before arriving.

Please don't look for my car in the parking lot as a determining factor as to whether or not I've showed up for a lesson. If you have a designated time, I will be there unless there has been an emergency. I have several methods of transportation, so looking in the parking lot will not be an adequate indicator as to whether or not I've showed up. You have to actually come into the building and into my office. Yes, I have had many people drive up, look in the parking lot, not see a certain car and ASSUME I stood them up. Recently, I have been doing a LOT of extreme distance cycling, and you might just find out that I road my bicycle into the office 50 miles! I actually ENJOY doing this in warm weather!

Please be on time for lessons, but PLEASE DO NOT BE EARLY. New students especially tend to arrive very early. This is an interruption to the student that is before you. My lessons run more or less on time, but they will NEVER EVER start early. Occasionally lessons will run long for issues like not letting a student go before a concept is "cemented". Please allow for a 15 minute window of time flexibility.

I think it's worth noting (mainly because many people ask about my teaching methods) that I make it a STRONG point to teach all three areas of "Ear Playing", Music Reading and Music Theory, to ALL students, regardless of the instrument. Those who know me as a performer of popular music view me as an "Ear Player". Those who have seen me in churches, weddings, classical recitals, or in Swamp Gravy, "Georgia's Official Folk-Life Play", think of me as a "Note Reader/Player" and composer. The truth is, I think both are incredibly important, and I believe that, to be a "real musician", you need to be able to do both. I make it a point to work/teach with the attitude that all "musicians" should have the "Hearing Eye" and the "Seeing Ear". In other words, when you hear a musical passage, you should already know what the notes and chords are and what they'd look like on paper IN REAL TIME, while you are hearing the music, and at the same time, one should be able to look at a musical score and hear in the mind what the music sounds like. I'm actually quite surprised by the number of highly skilled "Note Players" out there who cannot reproduce a musical passage by ear after one or even several listenings, in spite of YEARS of "Note Playing". I assure you that, contrary to popular opinion, ear playing, relative pitch, and even perfect pitch CAN BE TAUGHT (for a demonstration of this, click here: and watch this video of my son, Brandon, demonstrating his perfect pitch), and it's a regular part of my program. I pride myself in having that unique angle in my instruction, and I'm proud to be one of the few teachers to cover ALL of these angles.

Additionally, another unique angle I am proud of is EXTREME repetition and slow building to perfection. To take lessons from me means that the student is going to play the same musical passages and pieces over and over again, perhaps hundreds or even thousands of times. I do not believe in the often used method of glossing over pieces of music a few times and then moving on. It is extremely important when striving for "musicianship" that passages and pieces are "dissected" down to the lowest level. That goes for baby piano songs, to classical, and even to the "coolest" lead guitar riffs. I believe in a sure and steady rise to (as nearly as possible) musical perfection and professionalism, and I am an avid user of the metronome - a tool which I almost completely credit for my very fast technique on both the piano and the guitar. If you stick with me and do exactly as I instruct, I can take you all the way from NEVER HAVING PLAYED AN INSTRUMENT, to playing on and in the finest stages and studios in Nashville, New York and LA. I encourage students and parents to embrace methods of striving for perfection, not only in music, but in every aspect of life. It has been PROVEN that music education increases IQ, and that skills and disciplines learned in music benefit and carry over into every other aspect of life, especially academically.

Thanks, Steve Hacker

Policy Created: 09/01/1982 (yes, almost 33 years of teaching!)
Last Updated: Sun. 12/28/2014 1520