Frequently Asked Questions

Have a question about Hoffman Academy? Then you've come to the right place! Here are our most frequently asked questions and their answers. Please review this page if you ever have any questions about our company's policies, our teaching styles, etc. If the answer you seek is not found here, please feel free to contact us

Q: What is unique about Hoffman Academy? 
A: Here at Hoffman Academy, we are focused on having a balance between both quality and fun. Our young students actually enjoy the piano, because we engage their natural curiosity and creativity using an innovative multi-sensory approach, while still providing them with the expert training to reach a high level of musical proficiency. Our teachers don't just teach--they are all practicing, expert musicians as well! The learning environment here is fun and nurturing, and our innovative, research-based curriculum has proven itself to quickly enable students to play music they love.
Q: What is “Come Together!” Week?
A: Come Together! Week is a fun way for students to interact with one another and receive feedback from teachers other than their usual one. Three times each semester a special group class will be held in place of the regular weekly lesson. Come Together! classes are taught by a team of two Academy teachers, with 5-10 students in each class. Come Together! classes last for 60 minutes (for piano students) or 90 minutes (for voice students). Parents should not attend Come Together! Week classes. Come Together! classes are an excellent opportunity to receive feedback and instruction from multiple Academy teachers and to gain confidence performing in front of peers. The schedule for group class will be announced at the beginning of each semester. (NOTE: Come Together! Week is not held during Summer Term.)

Q: Do you do recitals? Will my child receive performance opportunities?
A: The short answer is yes, we do! 
Students at Hoffman Academy have multiple performing opportunities available to them throughout the year, so don’t worry, you’ll get to see your child perform!  Each year we have our fun annual movie recital where students play songs seen in films. Everyone gets to eat popcorn, watch short movie scenes, and enjoy the music! We also have composition nights where students get the chance to showcase their own compositions, which is always fun for everyone. Outside of that, we have other various events, such a Baroque night, where Baroque music is highlighted. 
Basically, students should receive two opportunities to perform each year (either at recitals or through other opportunities). Family and friends are all invited and admission is free! Please note that students should dress nicely for recitals.
Q: I’ve heard about so many kids who start piano, then want to quit after just a few month or years. How do you manage to keep this from happening?
A: As an Academy, we have a reputation for providing piano lessons that most kids find engaging and fun. Many of our parents report that their children love lessons, and will go willingly to practice without being asked. However, our students also experience times where they may feel discouraged and even resistant to practicing. Developing musical skills takes years and years of dedicated practice, and sometimes a student might hit a “hump”. Best solution: supportive parent-teacher team. Developing musical skills is not easy, but it is worth it. Kids need love, encouragement, and consistent support. For more information about this, parents should Mr. Hoffman's article “How to Help Your Child Enjoy and Succeed at Piano Lessons”. 
Q: Where can I find musical events around Portland?
A: There are many great family-friendly and kid-oriented events, concerts, musicals, etc. around the Portland area. If you are looking for such an event to take your child to, please see our event list here. Remember to check back often! We update the list with more events as we find them. 
Q: What age do you recommend starting piano lessons? 
A: The age at which your child is ready to begin piano lessons really depends on the child and your own judgement. However, we find that using the Hoffman Academy Methods, children can begin piano lessons successfully at age 5-6, and we offer lessons to children ages 5 and up. 
Piano Lessons
Q: What is available for kids under the age of 5?
A: We offer a Musical Beginnings class for toddlers aged 4 and under. In this class, children are introduced to music through singing activities, movement to music, drumming, listening to music of many styles, and exploring different instruments. You can find more information about this program here. 
Q: How much are students at the Academy expected to practice?
A: The specific amount of time students spend practicing is not nearly as important as having consistent, daily practice. Here at the Academy we expect students to practice six out of seven days a week, if not every day, and that during this time they complete their daily practice assignments from their teacher. For beginners, 15-20 minutes a day is usually sufficient. As students progress, daily practice time should increase.
Q: What are the expectations for parents of piano students?
A: We strongly recommend that parents attend lessons for beginning piano students and for students 9-years-old or younger. Most students will need some guidance, encouragement, and support at home to complete their daily practice assignment. When a parent attends the lesson this prepares the parent to be able to support the child at home. In the lesson you will learn what your teacher wants the student to focus on during the week and what the student is already doing well. We have found that children progress much more quickly and get more out of lessons when they have effective, well-informed help and support at home. It doesn’t matter whether or not you have training in music. The most important way to help is by providing structure and encouragement to establish good daily practice habits.
Q: What if I have circumstances that prevent me from attending my child’s piano lesson?
A: Parents who are unable to attend piano lessons for whatever reason should work with their child’s teacher to ensure good communication about practicing and getting the most out of the lessons. One possibility is to join the lesson for just the last 5 minutes to be there when the teacher reviews the practice assignment.
Q: Do you offer lessons during the summer?
A: Yes! Our summer term is a shorter term with more flexibility, to accommodate for family vacations and other summer activities. We offer packages of 6 private or partner 45-minute lessons that are scheduled around each student’s summer availability.
In addition, to our packages of private or partner lessons, we also offer week long, half day, piano or voice summer camps! Summer schedules are typically posted in January.
Q: Are there lessons during school breaks and holidays?
A: No lessons will be held during the extended Thanksgiving weekend, the 2 weeks over the Winter Break, the week of Spring Break, and the extended Memorial Day weekend. For exact dates, please look over our calendar, which can be found here

Q: Why don’t you offer 30-minute private lessons?
A: We believe that great teaching and learning takes time, and it is simply not possible to offer a quality learning experience in such a small period of time. We want to inspire our students with a love of music, connect with our students, and truly understand them.  This takes more time. 
If price is an issue, please consider our partner or group lessons, as opposed to the private ones. They have proven very popular and effective.
Our Policies
Q: If we miss a lesson or are going out of town, do you provide make-up lessons?
A: We do not provide make up lessons for lessons missed or canceled by the student. However, if you know in advance that you will need to miss a group or partner lesson, at your request, your teacher can make an audio recording of the lesson for you. 
Q: What if we cannot attend our lesson due to weather conditions?
A: When driving conditions around the Academy appear dangerous due to the weather, our policy is to cancel lessons at the Academy for that particular day. When this happens, a make-up opportunity will be provided.

Registration and Payment

Q: When registering online, is it okay to mail a check instead of making an online payment?
A: Absolutely! The option to pay through PayPal is for your convenience. Checks are always a welcome form of payment. Checks can be mailed to 12660 NW Cornell Road, Portland, OR 97229. 
Q: What if I register for a class and then change my mind?
A: If enrollment is canceled on or before September 1st (for Fall Semester enrollment) or February 1st (for Spring Semester enrollment) tuition payment will be refunded in full.  After September 1st/February 1st tuition payments are non-refundable. Registration fees are non-refundable except in the unusual circumstance where a lesson time acceptable to both parties cannot be found during the scheduling process, in which case registration fees will be fully refunded.
Q: If I am paying monthly tuition, when are my payments due?
A: Tuition payments are due on the 1st of every month. On the 11th a $10 late fee is assessed to overdue accounts.

Q: Do you offer a sibling discount when I enroll more than one of my children at the Academy?
A: Only when you enroll more than one of your children in our Pre-K Musical Beginning class, is there a sibling discount. There is a $15 reduction in the tuition for the additional child.
Teaching Methods
Q: What is your teaching method at Hoffman Academy of Music?
A: The Hoffman Academy of Music method is based on Kodaly Philosophy and is an approach that is a balance between ear based and sight based learning. We strive to provide a fun and nurturing learning environment that includes group learning, in addition to individualized instruction, during our come together week lessons..
Q: What kind of piano is recommended?
A: Ideally, you would want to have a real acoustic piano to practice on, since a quality acoustic piano will provide a beautiful tone that can't be matched by a keyboard. Perhaps even more importantly, practicing on an acoustic piano will prevent bad playing habits from being formed since the touch of an acoustic piano is nothing like most keyboards. However, if you can find an 88-key digital piano with "weighted keys", that would be fine to practice on, too, for the first year or two of lessons.

Q: Where do you recommend getting a piano?
A: For purchasing a piano, our Academy families have had the best experiences with Classic Pianos. We have found their selection of both new and used pianos to be the best in Portland, and their customer service has been excellent. Their number is 503-239-9969 and their address is 3003 SE Milwaukie Ave. Portland, OR 97202. Please also mention that you have a student at Hoffman Academy so you can receive preferred pricing as a part of belonging to the Hoffman Academy Community.

Q: Where can I rent a piano?
A: Please talk to Classic Pianos about options for renting. When renting, make sure to mention that you are a member of Hoffman Academy to ensure preferred pricing. Their phone number is 503-239-9969 and their address is 3003 SE Milwaukie Ave. Portland, OR 97202.
Q: Whom do you recommend as a piano tuner?
A: Here are 2 names of tuners that we have used in the past, and we have been pleased with their work.
Eric Leatha 503-997-1725 
Denice Wilkinson 503-246-3337 

General Questions
Q: What type of guitar to you recommend?
A: Please see our 'Guide to Purchasing a Guitar' by clicking here
Hoffman Academy of Music | 12660 NW Cornell Road, Portland Oregon 97229 | 503.336.3121
Q: Where can I find the materials from the most recent Parent Orientation?
A: To find the material from our latest Parent Orientation, click here