Tom teaches two of my children. He has been so accommodating and helpful in developing my kids as they grow to understand and love music.
About the Piano
Piano lessons is one of the most common to be requested here at the Olive Tree Music Academy in Morris Plains. We think this is great because it is a fantastic instrument for learning several foundational concepts of musical theory, technique, and performance. It is like holding the entire orchestra in your hands. As you sit at a piano, you have in front of you a visual support to compression of harmonic structures. You have a uniquely organized tool to build into yourself concepts of relative pitch and harmony. As opposed to other instruments that can only play one pitch, or require a great deal of practice just to get notes to have the precise right pitch, you can use all ten fingers for a different note which will ring the same exact pitch no matter how you play it. You can still spend a lifetime perfecting your technique and understanding of the piano, but the initial rewards of learning to make a song sound good can come early and often and progress quickly with hard work and regular practice.
What concerns us is that when we speak to adults, they often reflect on their childhood, taking a few years at most of piano lessons before quitting. Why do we run into so few adults who still play? We want to be the music school for piano players who continue to grow in their musicianship as a pianist for many many years. But a great majority of piano teachers out there seem to have one technique for teaching. They pull out their method book, and if you’re a good student and practice, you get the reward of turning the page.
We want to be a school that inspires, that gets to the heart of what exactly had you interested in the instrument in the first place, and that gives you a broad scope of rewards for your hard work. We want lessons that are as different from each other as our students are. We want teachers who use all the means available to maintain their students’ passion for piano. You wouldn’t believe how many more people we interview than the number we actually hire. We are uncompromisingly picky, and nowhere is this more true than with our piano teachers. They are truly the best you’ll find.
How Music Lessons Work
Getting a Piano
Piano Student Age
Our Piano Teachers
Our Morris Plains Location
How To Get a (sort of) Free Piano
One very nice thing about pianos is that they are a rather large piece of furniture to have around if they aren’t being used. When most people look to get rid of their piano, they start by trying to sell it, and because there are so many other people also doing this, they end up virtually giving it away. Hiring a mover who is qualified specifically to move pianos is critical, and is the most expensive part of acquiring a piano. But it is worth it. Once you have the piano in your home, you should have it tuned, as the moving process can jostle some strings out of tune. Then you’re all set! A good place to find pianos for free is pianoadoption.com, but you can also find pianos on craigslist and ebay searches limited to the local area. The most difficult thing is getting a piano that doesn’t have any critical damage to it, and if pianos are new to you, getting help in noticing these flaws might be necessary. While we can’t make any promises that a flaw won’t slip our notice, we’d be happy to help you in this part of the process.
Where To Buy a New Piano
While we ourselves have outfitted our school in part with adopted pianos, we also have some store bought new pianos. If you would prefer to purchase a new piano, we recommend the piano dealer we have always stuck to: B Natural Pianos in Rockaway. We also recommend you go there for your piano with one of our business cards in hand for an extra discount. Yes, we do get a kickback for this too, but we do genuinely stand by their products.
Do You Need a Piano Before the Trial Lesson?
Piano is one of the instruments you will not need to acquire before the trial, but of course it would be good to be able to come home from your trial and start playing right away. We understand if you’d like to see how the lesson goes before you go through the process of getting a piano. If you wait until after your trial, we just ask that you try to get the piano right away afterwards, because lessons without daily practice will not be a very productive investment.
We accept adult students of any age. It is never too late to pick up an instrument, as long as you are prepared to commit to a regular practice routine and can adjust to returning to the role of student.
When To Start
Young children are ready for lessons when their parents are ready to sit with them every day to practice, and their fine motor skills are developed enough. We find that five years old is typically a good starting age.
Meet Our Amazing Morris Plains Piano Teachers
What People Are Saying About Their Morris Plains Piano Lessons
Evan has been very helpful. She pushes us to do better, while being encouraging and supportive. She makes lessons fun!
Frequently Asked Questions
My child takes music lessons at school. Why take private music lessons?
There are many benefits to taking private lessons in addition to school lessons. In group instrument classes there are frequently areas of instruction that cannot be adequately addressed in a group lesson, such as technique. Individualized instruction allows your child to progress much faster and further and have the pride in being one of the better musicians in class. It has be demonstrated so many times that when a child finds a class that boosts their confidence in their ability, it will inevitably spill over into other classes as well. Being the best in their class also leads to additional opportunities, such as solos, which will in turn lead to more benefits, such as leadership experience.
Do you offer lessons in the Summer?
Yes! And there is actually nothing different about the summer as the rest of the year except that we slightly change the way we handle billing. We expect that if you or your child took lessons and will be taking lessons in the fall that, minus a couple weeks vacation or so, you will be coming in the summer. The results of skipping a whole summer can be a real bummer for all. The result can be spending all of fall relearning what we taught you in the spring.
On the other hand we also get a lot of people who come for the summer only to keep fresh on what their child learned during the school year at school. Frequently after experiencing the value of getting more individualized attention at our school they stay with us when the fall rolls around!
Why not take skype or online pre-recorded video lessons instead?
Facetime and Skype are great tools to keep in touch with people we can’t be with in person otherwise, but usually when the option to communicate in person is there we seldom do video chat, for several reasons. Video lag time impairs natural communication. The audio can be of such low quality that it is difficult to tell sometimes if a student is out of tune or it is just distortion in the audio connection. Also, think of a guitar lesson. A teacher needs to have a good view to see if they’re using good general posture, but they also need to see their finger positions to correct a chord that doesn’t sound quite right. There is no way to position the camera to accomplish all this, and constantly adjusting the position takes away from valuable lesson time. On the other hand, pre-recorded teachers can’t make any corrections at all. This limits the extent the pre-recorded lessons can take them to, and they may find when they ultimately take private lessons that they’ve been teaching themselves incorrectly which can be difficult habit to unlearn.
Does one have to be musically gifted to take music lessons?
While some students advance in their lessons at different speeds than others, most frequently this has more to do with a sense of determination and a commitment to regular practice at home than to what one might call “musical giftedness”. We find that the opposite is true as well. Struggling in lessons can often be solved by a renewed commitment to practicing. A lot of this task lies in the hands of the students and parents, however, we are passionate about hiring only the most motivating inspirational teachers who will do everything they can to encourage the love of music in you or and/or your child.
Am I allowed to sit in on my child's lessons?
Yes! Many educational institutions lock parents out but we actually prefer as much of your involvement as possible. Your child’s teacher is only present one day of the week. The rest of the week their teacher is you, so it is important that you know what they learned in class so that you can remind them to fix their posture or technique, or can answer as many questions as possible. Taking notes is great! We only ask that you resist the urge to say anything to your child during lessons so that your child can focus on their teacher as hearing instruction from multiple directions can be difficult and sometimes discouraging.
Can your teacher come to my home?
We understand how appealing this option is to parents. However, we do not know many, if any, good teachers that are willing to do it. Children are tough to keep focused at home, cancellations happen too often, and traveling lesson to lesson is too much wear and tear on a teachers’ energy and enthusiasm. The best teachers teach at schools or independently but don’t travel for every lesson. Our teachers all teach in our classrooms where their space, equipment, and professionalism environment can be consistent.
Do you offer makeup lessons?
The best way to cancel a lesson is to log onto our website using your user name and password, click on the class on the calendar you wish to cancel, and choose “Request Cancellation”. This will instantly send an email to both the teacher and an administrator of the cancellation. We also ask out of courtesy that you call us if you are canceling the same day as the lesson, just in case we don’t receive the email in time. aPlease contact the studio if you need help with your user name and password.
24 Hour Cancellation Policy
In order to be eligible for a make-up lesson, you must have notified us of your absence at least 24 hours in advance of that lesson. This is important and is strongly enforced because it is written in teachers’ contracts that if a student cancels within 24hrs or is a no-show, that they are still paid for the time they set aside to be there. Advanced notice gives us time to fill in your slot with make-up lessons or trial lessons for new students. We know that not all events and illnesses can be foreseen, but we hope you understand. We are very flexible when given advanced notice.
What is your snow cancellation policy?
Our cancellations for snow days are not the same as the local school districts’ because our usual hours run opposite to theirs. Snow day cancellations will be notified by email no later than 12pm on weekdays or 8am on Saturdays, but you may also call if you are unsure if lessons are running as usual that day.
If lessons are canceled, then we will make sure that there are more available lesson make-up lessons times than usual listed on the make-up lessons online form so that you may be able to choose a time that works best for your schedule.
If lessons are not canceled, but you still can not make it for any reason, then the usual 24hr notification and make-up lessons policy is in effect.
Tuition refunds are not offered for snow days. If there are ever any exceptions to this they are listed below.
Do you offer refunds for missed classes?
If ever we can not meet our obligation to any regularly scheduled music lessons, you will be first offered a make-up time, but if one can not be agreed upon then you may request a refund for that day, which will always be in the form of a Paypal refund through the same account as your tuition payments. Typical reasons for this are that your teacher is ill and there will not be a another teacher taking his or her place that day, or he/she had car trouble on the way to lessons, etc. Refunds are not offered if your teacher or a substitute teacher is there for your regular time, but you are not due to vacation, or snow, or any other reason. Make-up lessons or doubling up on a future week is an option if 24hr notice is given.
What forms of payment do you accept?
There are two options
1) Pay the flat monthly tuition amount as automated monthly payments using a credit/debit card or Paypal account through our website.
2) We accept checks if it is to pay for the whole school year (or rest of the school year) in advance. This option comes with a 10% discount. This amount would be equal to the number of months between your start date and June, times the monthly tuition amount, minus 10%.
Monthly tuition is the same amount for as long as you are reserving a weekly time slot and is not adjusted for student cancellations. There are 40 scheduled lessons between Sept-June. Some months have 3 lessons and some have 5 but they equal out over time. Tuition adjustments are rare and only happen when the teacher is not in and there is no substitute. If you ever need to cancel individual lessons you may cancel and schedule make-up lessons through our website at least 24 hours advance.
We do not offer any other options such as paying monthly by check. We apologize for any inconvenience. Our schools are made up of 100% music professionals and money is not something we want to have discuss every week or month. This policy allows us to focus on the music and never have to chase anyone for payments.
Can I cancel any time?
Yes. Most students pay monthly so you are only committed to the lessons within the month you’ve already paid for.
Are you a music store?
We are only a school. We focus 100% of our energy on educating. This is definitely a good thing. Our lesson rooms are spacious and are the center of studios rather than in the back corner of a retail store, and our teachers are professionals whose careers are dedicated to teaching and performing and are not involved in any sales.. Please see our instrument pages for our recommendations on where to find an instrument or materials.
Do you offer studio recording/mixing/mastering services?
Our Flemington location doubles as a recording studio. Please contact Gregg at Erypsus Studios
Our Morris Plains Location
The largest of the Olive Tree Music Academy locations, Morris Plains has six very large practice rooms, the most teachers and students, and a comfortable waiting room with air hockey, books and toys for your young children. We are between the Acme supermarket that is on the corner of Speedwell ave and East Hanover, and the Mennen Ice Skating Arena, though we’re closer to the Acme. The tricky part is that you will not see our building from the road as we are below street level, so what you’re looking for is our sign and a long driveway down. If you’re headed west and pass the Mennen arena first then we’ll be the next driveway on the left after the overpass and our sign should be clear. If you’re headed east and pass the Acme first then we’ll be the next driveway across the street on the right after some houses, and our sign may be partially covered by the neighbor’s trees. If you pass the Mennen arena after that then you’ve gone too far. Once you enter our parking lot, we are the exterior entry furthest to the left on the front face of the building (Suite A). You can enter here, make your self comfortable in the waiting room, and your trial lesson teacher will be out from their previous lesson to greet you at your scheduled time. We are open only by appointment, so if you haven’t scheduled a trial lesson yet, you can do so right now by clicking the “View Schedule” button below.