Studio policies are in place in order to ensure the greatest amount of musical education with the fewest distractions. Being in the music business as a performer and as an instructor for several decades, there is a lot of commonality between successful students, their habits, and the time they spend acquiring musical knowledge (practicing).

I teach out of my studio in the Columbia, Maryland area of Howard County. During recital season, I may hold class at a performance venue so the student can acclimate to the surroundings.

While this page is exhaustive, it helps clarify our communications and our basic understanding of our commitments. This is a dynamic document that changes over time. Should you wish to ask questions or make comments, please contact me directly.

There will be a formal studio contract that spells out our agreement to work together to provide the best program of study, and provide me with contact information.


Students come from a wide scope of experiences in music, sometimes no experience at all, so part of my job is to match the student’s musical interests. I listen carefully to the needs of my piano students, asking them about their musical interests, previous experience on the piano, aspirations in music, learning style, and practical requirements, in order to carefully match them with their ideal instruction path.

All new piano students start off with one trial piano lesson to get a sense of my approach and for me to get a sense of the students personality in order to meet their specific musical needs.

After their initial piano lesson, if the students feel they have found the right piano teacher for them, they can continue on with regular, weekly piano lessons. Choosing a piano teacher is a delicate matter, and occasionally our students will have several trial piano lessons before settling into a regular piano lesson schedule.

All students are expected to practice regularly.

Taking piano lessons and practicing go hand-in-hand. There is no real purpose in taking lessons if one does not, or cannot, practice between lessons. I prepare for each and every lesson, and I do so under the assumption that the student has practiced what I had assigned in the previous lesson.


Tuition for each month is due at the beginning of the previous month (i.e., tuition for the month of June is paid by May 1. This guarantees your slot on the calendar, and priority if for any reason, the schedule mush change. Tuition is payable by cash, check or Paypal (extra fee applies).

If a student cancels less than 24 hours before, or is late for the lesson, there is no refund or opportunity to make up the lesson. If appropriate notice is given, and if my schedule allows, I may offer a time for a make up lesson. Same-day lesson cancellations may be forfeited without the convenience of a make up lesson. Lessons cancelled due to inclement weather can be made up, but must be within the week

Any lesson canceled by me will either be refunded or applied to future lessons (or double lesson).


• A parent or legal guardian must remain on the premises throughout the lesson.

That is, students who are minors are not to be “dropped off”.

With a parent or guardian present, there is a clearer understanding of what took place during a particular lesson (such as a behavioral issue) as well as what regularly takes place during a lesson. The parent/guardian will also know what is expected of the student as far as between-lesson practice. This is important in order to establish daily and weekly goals.

• Audio and/or video recording and social media policies

Video and audio recording can be mutually beneficial on a number of levels. It allows me to assess my teaching. It provides a record of what took place during the lesson. Parents and guardians are also permitted, even encouraged, to audio or video record the lesson with the understanding and agreement that such recording is for personal use only and not to be disseminated or posted to social media without my permission.

• For those with allergies, please understand that there are two cats on site.

• No cellphones in the studio area. Give your child a gift of an uninterrupted lesson by turning off your cell phone. Telephone sounds must be silenced during lessons.

Grounds for dismissal from the studio include:

• Frequent lack of practice between lessons
• Excessive absences, cancelations, lateness or reschedule requests
• Inappropriate behavior
• Repeated late payment of tuition

• There will be a $35 charge for any check returned as non-payable. This is what my bank charges me.

• I will not share your information, photographs, or audio or video recordings with anyone without your written permission.

• By scheduling lessons with me you are indicating that you have read and understood this policy, and that you agree to adhere to it.

• This policy is subject to change and updating. When it is changed or updated, current students will be notified.


Modern family life has turned into a full-time job, leaving students and families scrambling to find time to cover all the bases. Music lessons are no different. I want to share a secret here: the best time to practice is right after a piano lesson (same day, that is). This galvanizes the instruction into memory immediately and allows immediate application. It doesn’t have to be a long session per se, but using this procedure can help students progress quicker and greatly advances the acquisition of skills.

Daily practice time is usually devoted several distinct areas of learning:

• Finger exercises (scales, intervals, chords, arpeggios, runs, licks)

• Scored musical selections

• Improvisational exercises

• Solo and ensemble skills

For those that require it, remedial training in note/key signature/keyboard orientation will be recommended].


Lesson time will be devoted to:

  • • Ear training (identification of notes, intervals, chords, melody and harmony away from the piano)
  • • Weekly practice assignments will be assigned based on the current level of weekly instruction. The culmination of lessons and practice is a recital ( a “gig”).
  • • For those that require it, remedial training in note/key signature recognition and keyboard orientation will be recommended.
  • • As part of any professional musicians consistent training, students are assigned specific active listening requirements to enhance their understanding of music and performance. All of these performances will be available. This allows for a path, a logical journey that can be immediately applied.


All students are required to attend four live musical performances per year. Attending live music gives students a fresh perspective and teaches proper performance protocols and routines.


Student recitals provide opportunities for piano students to perform in a friendly, low-pressure environment, meet other piano students, share ideas and stories, and hear each other play.

Piano students can learn and play a wide variety of styles, from jazz to rock to pop, and at all levels from beginner to advanced. Taking part in the student piano recitals offers the chance to gain inspiration and new ideas for music-making. It’s also a celebration of music and the piano, and the student’s accomplishments.

All students are required to perform in student recitals. If a recital must be missed, a recording project will be considered for fulfillment.

Brian Nelson
888-650-JAZZ (5299)