Frequently Asked Questions

Parent Questions

What size instrument is best for my child?

Year 1 pupils - Recorder is best for our very young pupils. 

Year 2 pupils - Recorder would be a great option, but some Year 2 pupils can manage the Mini Clarinet. 

Year 3 pupils - Mini Clarinet, Curved Head Flute and Cornet are perfect for children at the start of Key Stage 2. 

Year 4 pupils - Some Year 4 pupils can manage standard Clarinets, Flutes and Cornets and Trumpets, but smaller Year 4's might still need the smaller instruments.

Year 5 pupils - All should be able to manage standard Clarinets, Flutes, Cornets and Trumpets, and should not need the smaller instruments unless they are particularly little. Some Year 5 pupils can manage the Alto Sax. 

Year 6 pupils - All pupils in Year 6 should be able to manage any of the standard instruments we offer, and a smaller instrument should not be needed. 

There's no need to worry though, if the instrument chosen in the first instance doesn't work out, there is always the option to swap to a different instrument at no extra cost if you need to.

How do I pay for my child's lessons?

All lessons are paid for via Direct Debit, through GoCardless. Lesson prices can be found HERE.  Lessons are paid for in blocks of 5, every half term, in advance of the half term starting. If your already have lessons and need to register with GoCardless, click here. If you have not yet enrolled your child, you will receive an email containing the link as part of the enrolment process.

How is my invoice calculated?

Music for Schools provide 30 lessons over the course of an academic year (September to July). There are more than 30 teaching weeks available, however we always leave room to allow for School Trips, SATS test and in case our tutor is ill or cannot attend. For payment purposes, we break your payments into 6 half termly payments of 5 lessons, however dependent on term length and tutor/school timetables you may find that the number of lessons each half term does vary (the total will always add up to 30).

What if my child starts part-way through the year?

Not a problem. We can start your child's lessons at any time of year, whether or not we have visited school to recruit new musicians, or even if we have but you're a little late enrolling! We always schedule our lessons in blocks of 5, so if for example your child starts learning in October we will not be able to arrange the full 30 lessons, so we will set up your account so that you pay for 25 instead.

How do I know when my child's lessons are?

Initially, you will receive your child's lesson start date and time via email. After this, our administration system SpeedAdmin will contain the details of your child's timeable of lessons, and this can be accessed at any time with the login that will be sent to you.  In addition, our tutors may write down the next lesson date for each pupil.  If we are notified of any changes, we will communicate this to you, but please remember that there is not necessarily a lesson every week, and there may not be exactly 5 lessons in each half term because of variations in school and tutor timetables.  SpeedAdmin has both a desktop site and an app so that you can check regularly to make sure of your child's lesson details.

What happens if the tutor cancels a lesson?

Our tutors are in many ways super-human, but in others they are just like everyone else - they get poorly sometimes, or their cars break down, or sometimes they get stuck in traffic. On these occasions we will notify parents via text or email as soon as we can, and of course we do not ask you to pay for these lessons. Usually we can use one of our spare weeks to replace the lesson, or timetable permitting, the tutors can give double-length lessons to replace the time missed.

What happens if my child is ill, on holiday, or forgets to attend the lesson?

Unfortunately this lesson cannot be replaced. If your child has a long term illness or a broken limb resulting in them not being able to attend lessons then please contact us at the earliest opportunity so that we can discuss the options available.

What happens if my child forgets their instrument?

We advise that all children attend their lessons even if they have forgotten their instrument. This enables the children to continue learning the theory element of the lessons. If for any reason it is not appropriate for the tutor to give a theory lesson, we are under no obligation to replace the lesson.

What happens if my child's lesson clashes with a school activity?

We know that schools have a lot of activities going on, which is why we publish our tutor's teaching weeks well in advance. We ask that both schools and parents share the responsibility of letting us know if a clash occurs so that we can arrange the timetable accordingly, either by rearranging the order of pupils, or even rescheduling lessons for a different day. We ask for a minimum of 48 hours notice - any less than this and unfortunately we will not be able to replace the lesson. Things that may affect lessons are School Trips, Tests, Sports Days, Bikeability, Swimming, Juggling Workshops (ok, not that last one, but you get the gist!). The more information we have, the better prepared we can be to ensure that all lessons are delivered.

What do I do if my child's Normans instrument isn't working?

If you have obtained your instrument through Normans Musical Instruments and have had it for less than 2 years, in the first instance your tutor may be repaired by your tutor. If they are unable to make the repair, they will advise you to contact Normans at support@normans.co.uk. Normans will then arrange for the collection, repair and return of your child's instrument. Please note that your maintenance agreement does not cover wilful or excessive damage. Please do not take the instrument to be repaired by a non-affiliated Normans repairer, as Normans would be unable to reimburse repair fees.

What do I do if my child's own instrument isn't working?

Pupils attending lessons with a non Normans instrument must ensure the instrument is in good working order. Should a minor fault occur, the MfSF tutor will attempt to repair the instrument in order to ensure the pupil can participate in the lesson. If you do not wish the tutor to make repairs to your child's instrument, please advise Head Office in writing before tuition commences. Should our tutor be unable to repair the instrument, please make arrangements to have it repaired before your next lesson.

What happens if my instrument has to be sent away for repair?

We advise that all children attend their lessons even if they have not instrument for that week. This is because the children can continue to learn the theory element of the lessons. If for any reason a theory lesson cannot be given the lesson will be made up at a later date. If your instrument is going to be away for an extended period, please contact us as soon as possible.

My child needs to swap to the full size clarinet - what do I do?

Our tutors will advise when your child is ready for the full size instrument, usually via a note sent home with the child and the instructions on how to return the mini clarinet should be included (please note that you are responsible for the cost of returning the mini clarinet, however this is usually a maximum of £15). Once Normans have received the instrument they will then allocate and dispatch your full size instrument to you. You can choose to have the instrument sent back to your home, work or even school address for convenience.

How long should my child's lesson be?

Music for Schools are a group learning scheme and as such we prefer to teach in groups wherever possible. Sometimes, it is more beneficial to teach children individually for educational reasons.  We advise that pupils arrive a few minutes early in order to maximise lesson time. Lesson length depends upon the number of pupils in a group:

4 pupils - 30 minute lessons

3 pupils - 25 minute lessons

2 pupils - 20 minute lessons

1 pupil   - 15 minute lessons

What supplies do I need for my child's instrument?

Most instruments require some equipment to ensure they are playable and in good working order. Please click here to download our instrument supply sheet.

What do I do if my child wants to stop having lessons?

Whilst we hope that all pupils enjoy their lessons, we do understand than in some instances it may be necessary to cancel your lessons. If this is the case, please notify Head Office as soon as possible - cancellations CANNOT be taken by your tutor or school. Please see below for cancellation deadlines:

Autumn 1 (Lessons in Sept/Oct) - 31st July
Autumn 2 (Lessons in Nov/Dec) - 30th September
Spring 1 (Lessons in Jan/Feb) - 30th November
Spring 2 (Lessons in Mar/Apr) - 31st January
Summer 1 (Lessons in Apr/May) - 31st March
Summer 2 (Lessons in Jun/Jul) - 31st May

Unfortunately we cannot refund tuition fees already paid. Pupils are of course more than welcome to take any lessons you have paid for before stopping. In addition, if upon closing your account we find that your child has attended more lessons than your payments have covered, we reserve the right to take payment for the additional lessons via your usual payment method.

How do I cancel or change my tuition direct debit payments?

If you are stopping lessons with Music for Schools, you can cancel your Direct Debit payments directly with your bank. Please ensure you also contact our Head Office to close your tuition account. If you need to change your Direct Debit details, you will need to change this directly with your bank. Please note we are unable to change the date of the Direct Debit payments.

What is the MfSF approach to safeguarding?

It is really important to us that pupils are kept safe and that parents and schools have confidence in us, so we are happy for you to read our policy HERE.

School Questions

Why is music important?

Music is fantastic! It has so many benefits, many of which are not immediately thought of. Learning to read and understand written music improves performance in maths. In addition, playing music provides social interaction and encourages co-operation. It helps increase self-confidence. Music can be a huge benefit to pupils that might benefit from non-academic activities. Plus, it's just lots of fun!

What does learning an instrument do that class music doesn't?

Curriculum music is great - but we know that learning a specific instrument can take things a step further. Playing an instrument helps children to develop co-ordination and improve fine motor skills. It requires patience and perseverance and can help improve concentration. In addition to the benefits we've already described, learning a brass or woodwind instrument can also make a positive difference to children with asthma too.

What if our school does not have any musical instruments?

Some schools that we work with do have a selection of instruments, which we are happy for pupils to use. However, most do not, and this is absolutely fine. Ideally pupils need to be able to take their instruments home anyway, so that they can be getting on with all of that lovely practice! We have worked with Normans Musical Instruments for many years to make sure that we can make learning an instrument accessible for all parents.

What options are available to parents?

All of the instrument packages ultimately end with the pupils having an instrument that is theirs to keep. There is a Rental (Hire Purchase) option for those parents wanting to give their child the opportunity to try lessons without the need for a large up-front payment. The Purchase option gives parents the opportunity to buy an instrument outright, which does have an overall saving on the cost of the instrument. Both options have flexibility to return the instrument should the child not take to learning.

Do we have to have lessons during curriculum time?

We understand that schools may have reservations about taking children out of class time. Whilst most of our lessons do take place during the school day, we do have lots of flexibility in our timetabling. Lessons times are based on the number of pupils in the group - so smaller groups would mean shorter lessons. Plus, we can organise rotating timetables either on a weekly or half termly basis so that the times of pupils' lessons can vary. Of course, we are always happy to discuss individual pupil and timetable requirements, and in some cases, tutor timetable permitting, lessons at lunch time or after school may be available.

Can school pay for a pupil to have lessons?

Of course! We have worked with many schools who wish to support individual pupils in learning an instrument. There are different options available - just contact us and we will work with you to find the best option for your circumstances.

Is help available for low-income families?

We are committed to making music accessible, and are very happy to be able to offer lessons at a much-reduced price for families whose children are eligible for Free School Meals. All we need is written confirmation (this can be in email form) from you that the child applying for lessons qualifies and we will take care of the rest. Unfortunately we cannot help with the cost of the instrument itself.

Are music lessons suitable for pupils with special educational needs?

All pupils are welcome to try lessons. We have an all-inclusive policy and our tutors will be supportive of any child that expresses an interest in music. Communication is important though - we ask for as much information as possible so that our tutors can tailor their approach to the individual child. We can adapt our group sizes (including offering individual lessons), plus if you would like a Teaching Assistant to be present in lessons, this is fine too. As all instrument packages have the flexibility to cancel and return, and lessons are only paid for each half term, so there is minimal commitment required in case things don't work out.

We already have other music services in school - why do we need another?

There is a reason why bands and orchestras don't have just one instrument in them - you need lots of different instruments and people doing different things to really make a great sound! We work in harmony (no pun intended!) with many other music services and often join forces so that pupils can play in larger ensembles, plus we also collaborate to put on wonderful concerts and assemblies for parents. If you have a guitar teacher, class ukelele lessons and a recorder group already started, why not add brass and woodwind instruments to the portfolio!