387 Mission St SE

Salem, OR 97302

(844) MUSIC.NW

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Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

Most frequent questions and answers


We have experience teaching piano to 2-year-olds through adults. We currently accept private students as young as 3, and as old as. . . .  Well, it’s never too late to start piano lessons, and we enjoy working with adult students too! Remember: You’re never too grey to play!

We believe it is very important to use age-appropriate materials at each level, matching the interests and strengths of each age group.  At NWSM studio, beginning 5-year-olds use different books than beginning 8-year-olds or beginning middle-school students or adults.

For a child to start standard private music lessons, they should be able to count to ten, recognize & write the numerals 1-5, the letters A-G, wiggle their fingers independently, differentiate between left & right, and focus on an activity for 10 minutes. (If your child is very young and still learning some of these, always feel free to call the office and see if private lessons are the best fit for you!)

We also offer music lessons for preschoolers, focused around “music readiness.” No child is too young to begin discovering the joys of music! Check out our kindermusic program to learn how you can help jump-start your child’s musical development at an early age if private lessons are too advanced.

A child’s interest in music is the most important indicator of readiness:  Do they express themselves musically (singing, humming, dancing, tapping rhythms)?  If you have an instrument at home, do they spend time exploring the sounds and making up songs? These are some of the indicators that music lessons could benefit them personally, and developmentally.

Musical activities can be extremely beneficial to young children, not just to prepare them for music lessons, but to prepare them for life.  Music can help children develop their motor skills and sense of timing, develop language and spatial reasoning skills, and remember facts (for example, “ABC Song”!).

Play quality music in your home and car, especially classical music and folk songs, genres that have stood the test of time.

Sing with your child.  Teach him simple children’s songs you know, get a CD of children’s songs to sing to together, make up your own songs to describe what you do throughout your day.  There are many wonderful educational songs posted by Super Simple Songs on YouTube.

Let your child explore musical instruments, especially makeshift ones like cooking pot drums with wooden spoon drumsticks or a tupperware shaker containing a small amount of rice (carefully sealed, of course.)  Grab a drum yourself and together with your child play to the beat of a recording.  Definitely let him explore your piano or keyboard regularly, making up his own songs.

Involve your child in activities that develop fine-motor skills:  coloring & drawing, playing with play dough, using lacing cards. . . .

Attend a concert for young children.

Yes! We welcome adult beginners with no musical background, players who have been away from the piano for many years, as well as lifelong pianists who wish to sharpen their skills.

We understand that there are many demands on your time as an adult, so we take a relaxed approach to lessons.  Regular practice (5-6 days each week) is certainly recommended but not required.  There are many activities we can do in the weekly lesson to further develop your skills regardless of the amount of time you practiced during the week.  Please understand, however, that you will progress much more quickly if you practice consistently.  You do need an instrument for your home practice.  Please see the instrument requirements below under the “Home Practice” section.

Our adult students are encouraged, but not required, to participate in the studio recitals and festival.  These events give you a tangible goal that will keep you focused and on track in your music studies. There is also a yearly adult recital for students 18+ in a low key environment for all musical levels. Keep your eyes out for Recital 151. 


We teach lessons both at our downtown studio – located one block south of the Salem Public Library – as well as in the homes of our students throughout the Willamette Valley. In-home lessons are an additional $35/month.

We also have Online Lessons! Message us for inquiries.

Lessons are offered in 30, 45, and 60 minute sessions. Longer lessons are also available as needed for advanced students. Most young beginners start with half hour lessons. After that, the needed lesson time is individually evaluated. 

Lessons are scheduled between 8:00 a.m. and 10:00 p.m. on Mondays – Fridays, and 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. on Saturdays.

Siblings’ private lessons are scheduled back-to-back, if at all possible, unless the parent requests otherwise.

Lessons are scheduled year round, except for 5 weeks of the year. The studio closes an entire week for Spring break, Summer Break (last week before school starts), Thanksgiving break, and two weeks surrounding the Winter Holidays (following the school districts). 

  • Qualified, Experienced, and Talented Instructors all available to the public, under one roof.
  • Options: At Northwest School of Music there are multiple options for instructors, instruments, and scheduling for both in studio and in-home lessons! Not to mention ample performance opportunities throughout the year.
  • Welcoming Lobby: For students who do best solo for their lessons, there is a waiting area for their family! With a small library, some toys, a coffee station, free WiFi, and comfortable seats the lesson duration can be more fun for everyone else who comes along for the ride. 
  • Easy Communication: With calling, texting, emailing, and walk-in’s during office hours, communicating with NWSM Staff is convenient. 
  • Parent/Student/Teacher Portal for scheduling, assignments, upcoming events, etc.
  • Musical Ladder System: The only school in Oregon offerings MLS to students to support intrinsic motivation, inspiration, and practice. 

Yes, the studio prepares multiple recital and performance opportunities each year! With Recital Readiness for beginners to learn about performing, Music Nights for anyone wanting to share their music in a low key and fun environment, Formal Recitals for a fancy night out (sometimes themed), Concerts with select honor students featured, and Recital 151 for students age 18 and up – there is a chance to shine for everyone!

For students in person and online there are  multiple Zoom and RockOutLoud Performances, as well as YouTube recitals are available through the year.

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