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Now accepting advanced students in the Chicago/Downers Grove area - English / Français  


Thank you for your interest in private music lessons! There’s not a more satisfying and challenging way to learn an instrument than to study on a one-to-one level!

Private lessons are a wonderful way to quickly progress on the instrument as every lesson is specifically tailored to your needs.


What you get

        Student-centered approach to learning

        Fun, supportive environment

        Tailored or structured repertoire

        Reasonable rates


What you need

Students will periodically need to buy books or sheet music that accompany their particular program. Books generally cost about $6-20 and can be located online, mail order or at local music stores (it is still a good idea to call ahead to confirm that they have what you need in stock). Other materials will vary in price (from $5-20).

I recommend that students practice with a full-length mirror nearby so that they may at times see bow strokes and other arm and body positions.

A three ring binder, preferably with pockets will aid in keeping all handouts and music well organized.

Students wishing to bring a tape recorder to lessons are welcome.


Schedule and location

Private lessons in the Chicago area are held at my home studio (Downers Grove, IL) and are by appointment.  Please contact me at contact@reneepaulegauthier.com about available times.


Tuition, Cancellation and Rescheduling

Tuition is due at the lesson scheduled.  Please note that there is a 24 hour cancellation policy: if canceling within 24 hours prior to your lesson, your lesson will be billed in full.



Private students who are further along in the literature may require time with a piano accompanist in preparation for recitals and auditions. Fees for accompaniment are not included in tuition but are paid directly to the accompanist. These fees generally range from $25-50/hour depending on the difficulty of the literature and experience of the accompanist.


A Note About Lessons

Study will require careful attention during lessons, practice outside of lessons and self discipline: I am the teacher but you will take all the credit (and responsibility) for your progress. By studying privately, you are making a commitment to learning as I am making a commitment to teaching you. I strongly recommend the use of a practice journal.


To Parents

For younger students, it is recommended that you attend lessons. Studies will require practice from the student and devotion from the parent. Parents of younger students will need to observe and take notes at lessons as you will become the "teacher at home". Parents should work closely with the child - generally, making music important to you will carry over to the child. Listening together at home, in the car, etc. and offering positive encouragement will help motivate your child, also creating an environment at home that is free from distractions will aid while practicing. By spending time and creating a nurturing environment for your child, you'll be impressed at how much your child will be able to learn and this will spark curiosity and passion for learning on many levels.


If you have any questions at all, or to schedule a lesson, contact me at contact@reneepaulegauthier.com.


Missed lesson policy

Here is an interesting article about missed lessons.

Make-up Lessons From An Economist's Point of View

I'm a parent of children enrolled in Suzuki music lessons. I'd like to explain to other parents why I feel - quite strongly, actually - that it is unreasonable of we parents to expect our teachers to make up lessons we miss, even if I know as well as they do just how expensive lessons are, and, equally importantly, how important that weekly contact is with the teacher to keeping practicing ticking along smoothly. I think that it is natural for we parents to share the point of view that students should have their missed lessons rescheduled, but if we were to 'walk a mile' in our teachers' shoes, we might change our minds about what it is reasonable for us to expect of our teachers.

Like many parents, I pay in advance for lessons each term. In my mind, what this means is that I have reserved a regular spot in the busy schedules of my sons' teachers. I understand - fully - that if I can't make it to the lesson one week (perhaps my son is sick, or we are away on holiday, or there is some other major event at school) then we will pay for the lesson, but that my teacher is under no obligation to find another spot for me that week, or to refund me for the untaught lesson. And this is the way it should be.

In my 'other life' I am an economist and teach at our local university. Students pay good money to attend classes at the university; but if they don't come to my lecture on a Monday morning, then I am not going to turn around and deliver them a private tutorial on Tuesday afternoon. When I go to the store and buy groceries, I may purchase something that doesn't get used. Days or months later, I end up throwing it out. I don't get a refund from the grocery store for the unused merchandise. If I sign my child up for swimming lessons at the local pool, and s/he refuses to return after the first lesson, I can't get my money back. So there are lots of situations in our everyday lives where we regularly pay in advance for goods or some service, and if we end up not using what we have purchased, we have to just 'swallow our losses'. On the other hand, if I purchase an item of clothing, and get home and change my mind, I can take it back and expect either a refund or a store credit.

So why do I believe that music lessons fall into the first category of 'non-returnable merchandise', rather than into the second case of 'exchange privileges unlimited' (which I think is one of the advertising slogans of an established women's clothing store!)? Speaking now as an economist, I would claim that the reason is that items like clothing are "durable goods' - meaning, they can be returned and then resold at the original price - whereas music lessons are non-durable goods - meaning, once my Monday slot at 3:30 is gone, my son's teacher can't turn around and sell it again. The only way she would be able to give him a lesson later in the week would be if she were to give up time that she had scheduled for her own private life; and that seems pretty unreasonable - I can't think of many employees who would be thrilled if their bosses were to announce that they couldn't work from 3:30 to 4:30 this afternoon, but would they please stay until 6:30 on Thursday, because there will be work for them then!

Many teachers hesitate to refuse our request to shift lesson times (because our busy schedules do change), because unless they keep us parents happy, we will decide to take our child somewhere else for lessons (or to drop musical study), and they will lose part of their income. This is particularly true in areas with lower average income, where it can be particularly difficult to find students. So rather than telling us that 'well, actually, the only time when I'm not teaching and that you can bring your son for lesson is during the time I set aside each week to go for a long soul-cleansing walk, and I can't do that on Monday at 3:30 when you should have turned up', they agree to teach us at a time that really doesn't suit their schedule. Teachers who are 'nice' in this way often, in the long run, end up exhausted, and feeling exploited; they try to draw a line in the sand. However, too few parents ask to switch only when absolutely necessary, and too many parents want lesson times when it suits them this week, which is not the same time that suited last week. If the conflict arises because my child is in the School play, and they have their dress-rehearsal during his lesson time, then I feel that I must choose between the two activities, and if he attends the dress rehearsal my private lesson teacher doesn't owe me anything.

During May, my eldest son will be missing three lessons because he is going to accompany me on a trip to New Zealand to visit his great-grandparents. I do not expect my son's teacher to refund me for those missed lessons, or to reschedule them by 'doubling up' lessons in the weeks before or after our departure. Since there will be lots of advanced notice, I might ask her to consider preparing a special 'practice tape' for that period, or to answer my questions via e-mail, but if she doesn't have the time (the second half of April is going to be really busy for her, and she wouldn't be able to do the tape until more or less the week we left) and so has to refuse, then that's fine. I certainly don't expect her to credit me with three make-up lessons; there is no way for her to find a student to fill a three-week hole in her schedule during our absence. Instead, I hope that she will enjoy the extra hour of rest during those three weeks, and that we will all feel renewed enthusiasm when we return to lessons at the end of the trip.

Article Copyright © 2001Vicky Barham