Wee Everyone loves a bargain, and loves to get something for free. But unfortunately, some people push this too far and cause harm to others in the process. We are not here to rip you off or intentionally cause you headaches. We are here to provide you with the best piano tuition on the planet, and in the process, earn a fair wage to support our own families.
Being a completely digital music school means the boundaries of communication, time, behaviour and expectations can easily be blurred, so we need to have some rules in place, and be strict about sticking to them, so that everyone at Virtual Piano Academy has the best possible experience.
We Are a Business...But We're Human
Teaching you (or your child) is our job. This is how we earn a living, pay our bills and provide for our own families. We absolutely love it, but because we are normal humans just like you, we need some boundaries, so we don't burn ourselves out, and can continue providing you with awesome lessons and resources month after month.
And just like you, our teachers are trying to find enough time to spend with their loved ones outside of work and aiming to find a work/life balance. In this fast-paced modern world, we're all in the same boat with this.
So, we ask that you treat your teacher's time with respect. It's not their job to be on-call to answer your questions whenever you message. Or to take time out of their personal lives to give you extra tuition, just because you asked for it. Because teachers are generally very caring souls and go over and above for their students, it's also important for all of us to acknowledge where the boundaries are, so we all remain happy and healthy.
So, let's put these boundaries in place, so we are on all the same page.
Here is what you get for your ongoing monthly subscription:
Your monthly subscription includes:
Video feedback on your Weekly Showcase video, from a Virtual Piano Academy teacher once a week (if you submit by the due date and time).
You are also able to ask your teacher two "Life-Line" questions related to that weeks' homework via the pop-up chat window. Questions outside of the homework set by your teacher are not included in this. This service is intended to help students get "unstuck" on something musical that they are working on during the week. It's not an opportunity to chat back and forth about your progress, a payment issue or something else. Parents/students who abuse this service will have the chat window removed.
Your monthly subscription also includes access to The Academy HIVE, which provides you with the opportunity to participate in Virtual Piano Academy online events, activities and community interactions.
Access to our Academy Sheet Music Library
Access and participation in our monthly Q&A sessions
Points that go towards our Student of the Month Prize
All resources, games, videos and learning materials posted in the Topic of the Month portal
Ability to enrol in accredited piano examinations. However, you are responsible for additional exam fees, administration fees, required books and getting to the physical exam location in the city/town in which you enrolled. We can do the enrolment paperwork on your behalf, but incurs a $40 administration and processing fee on top of the AMEB or ABRSM exam fee. This covers the time it takes our staff to officially enrol you in an exam, and also includes your certificate shipping costs.
1 monthly Progress Report, which will be uploaded to your Lesson Portal on the first weekday of each month
Participation in our Goal Diary incentive
Access to Academy-wide practice statistics
Option to participate in Piano Parades (when preparing for Internal or Accredited Piano Exams).
Ability to log your practice and receive points for your practice efforts
24/7 access to our Help Centre (which you are on right now)
Participation in our community events, Musical Moments and Success Stories
That's a lot of stuff! So much more than a traditional in-person lesson!
These things (listed above) are where we are all interacting and learning within happy boundaries; which leads to positive experiences, inspired teachers, excited students and parents, and an amazing Academy for everyone :)
This is what you DO NOT get for your monthly subscription:
Video feedback from your teacher during the week
More than one video feedback in response to your Weekly Showcase submission. You can request an additional video feedback lesson by filling out the form in your Lesson Portal.
Feedback on a Showcase Video submission if you miss your due date (ie: don't submit before 11:59pm on your Lesson Day)
Feedback on something you submit in your Weekly Showcase that isn't on the homework list outlined by your teacher. Find out more here.
Zoom, phone or FaceTime feedback on something you're working on.
Zoom, phone or FaceTime chats with your teacher. You can request and pay for additional Zoom lessons. Use the form in your Lesson Portal to apply.
More than 2 "help-line" responses to your pop-up chat message questions each week
A response from your teacher when they are away sick or on holidays.
Your monthly subscription does not give you unlimited communication with your teacher whenever you like. Find out more about our approved methods of contacting your teacher.
Feedback or advice on something from outside Virtual Piano Academy (your school performance, uni or college application, advice on which school electives to take or help with homework from elsewhere etc)
Requests for videos, resources or materials to be made specifically for you (eg: "Amy, can you send me a video showing me how to play bars 5-10 of my piece". Resources will be created for you as your teacher sees fit, not the other way around).
Your monthly subscription does not include your Virtual Piano Academy internal exam fee or accredited exam fee. This is an additional expense.
Your monthly subscription does not include the purchase of whatever piece of music you want to play. You have access to all pieces of music in our Sheet Music Library as part of your lesson fee, but if you wish to learn any piece of music outside of this library, it will first need to be approved by your teacher, and secondly, you will have to source and pay for a legal copy of the sheet music (not an illegal download).
Your monthly subscription does not include theory lessons or theory exams. This requires a completely separate weekly lesson, charged at an additional $50/$75/$99/wk (depending on your level). For more information on this, please read this article.
Your lesson fee does not include Piano or Theory exam books. These will need to be purchased by you separately.
Requests to learn ANY piece of music you want. Your teacher is the best judge of what pieces are appropriate for you to learn at your level. You can suggest something, but your teacher has no obligation to teach it to you if they feel it is inappropriate for where you are currently at.
Requests to undertake a particular piano exam level. Your school level does not correspond to piano grade levels, and each examination system is different. Your teacher is an expert on what level a student must be at before participating in an exam. You teacher will not enrol you in an exam just because you think you want to do a particular grade.
If you've done an exam in the past (say Grade 5 when you were 15) and you haven't played in a few years, your current playing level IS NOT at a Grade 5 standard. This might be hard news to hear, but just because you were once at a certain level, doesn't mean you still are. You might only currently be at a Grade 1 level, even though you did Grade 5 in the past. Your teacher will instruct you on the best place to start to get your skills back, but it likely won't be right where you left off years ago.
These things (listed above) are where we start interacting and learning outside of acceptable boundaries, which leads to unhappiness, resentment and burnout.
Contacting Your Teacher
Please read this article for the approved methods for contacting your teacher.
When Will I Get a Response to My Message?
Please read this article for more information.
Our Payment Model
Let's say you get to the end of your monthly billing cycle and you tally up how many Weekly Showcase videos you've submitted...and you've only submitted 3, not 4. You start to think "Why am I paying the same fee this month when I've received less tuition?"
In a perfect world, where the modern calendar was made up of months that had exactly the same number of days in each, then yes, you would have a case for being ripped off! But each month is actually made up of a different number of days. Some months have 30 days, some have 31 days, some have 28 days, and some months even have 5 weeks! So if you've only received 3 feedback videos this month, there's a good chance you'll receive 5 in a future month!
Our billing model is also different to traditional lessons, where you pay up-front for 10 lessons in a term. Because we are a digital music school, not only do you receive a weekly video lesson (the Weekly Showcase), you learn through interactive digital games; you receive demonstration videos that you can watch over and over to help your practice; we step you through exactly what you need to do for your practice each week and outline this clearly for you to follow; we help you track your practice; you can see practice statistics from your fellow learners; you can interact with other students and parents on The Academy HIVE; you can participate in our Q&A sessions, monthly challenges, piano parades, and other community activities; you can access interactive learning resources through our Topic of the Month; you have access to our digital sheet music library; you receive a monthly progress report...and heaps more. All of this is included in your monthly payment!
So we don't charge you "per video lesson"...we are charging you a monthly subscription to grant you ongoing access to all the resources on our website, which includes however many video-lessons fall within that month. We're not charging you on a per-video-lesson basis.
We will not give refunds or provide additional video feedback if you decide to start tallying these up. That's not how our payment model works. Think of it like a Netflix subscription. You pay monthly to access all the content on that site. It's the same with Virtual Piano Academy. You pay a monthly fee to access everything on our Site, and you receive personalised video feedback once a week (despite where that falls in the billing cycle).
This may sound extreme, but sadly, there are some people in this world that intentionally bring harm to others. We don't want these people as part of our music school. We don't want you to have to interact with these people whilst learning with us. We take this very seriously! We do not want these kinds of people ruining the experience for all of you who are doing the right thing.
It's really important for us as a business to provide a safe, happy and inspiring learning environment for our students. We believe one bad apple can ruin the whole bunch. Our values and philosophies are based on positivity and respect for one another, and we will therefore not tolerate negative, aggressive, discriminatory or demanding behaviour from anyone who is part of our community (students, parents or teachers). We will ask you to leave Virtual Piano Academy (without a refund) if your behaviour is unacceptable. Find out more here.
Our Academy Pillars
We expect all our students (and parents) to follow these pillars:
1. I take responsibility for my own learning, practice and progress.
2. I have an open and positive approach to learning.
3. I respect my fellow learners, my teachers and myself.
4. I pay attention to the details in the music. This is where the magic lies.
5. I always aim to walk away from my practice being able to do something I couldn't do before.
6. I work towards my goal by committing to regular, focused, purpose-driven practice.
7. I will not succeed with a negative attitude.
8. I take all feedback (even if it's hard to hear) as an opportunity to learn and improve.