Frequently Asked Questions
- Can I sign up online?
- Should I come into the school to speak with the Program Director?
- Is there any obligation to sign up if I come in to talk? Should I bring my instrument?
- Do I need my own instrument for my lessons or class?
- Does Blue Bear rent instruments?
- How big are the group classes?
- I’m a square one beginner. How long before I can play anything?
- How much time should I practice?
- Is there homework in the classes?
- Is Blue Bear accredited?
- Will I be the only adult in my class?
- Is it okay to miss some of the meetings of my group class?
- Can I make up a missed class?
- What if I find that the class is not right for me.
- What if illness or a change in my work schedule prevents me from finishing a class?
- What if I want to continue after my first class is over?
- Does the school have any requirements?
- Is it better to take a group class or private lessons?
- How can I become a teacher at Blue Bear?
1. Can I sign up online?
For new students, online registration is available only for Short Seminars and Little Bears, not for Group Classes. New students should first fill out an online application and we will follow up to ensure that you sign up for the right program for you. There is no online enrollment for private lessons. Returning students may enroll online, although online enrollment does not guarantee that a spot is still available in the class.
2. Should I come in to the school to speak with the Program Director?
- Some people get lost the first time they come to Blue Bear. We’d rather you be late for your interview than for your first lesson.
- You may want to get a feel for the environment of the school to know if it’s a good fit for you.
- We want to explain the school policies to which you’ll be bound once you enroll.
Whether we talk by phone or in person at the school, we like to speak with you before signing you up to make sure you’re placed in the right level class or with a teacher who’s appropriate for your interests, level and style of learning. By discussing your background and goals we can improve the chances that you’ll have a good experience at Blue Bear. You’ll speak with Dennis Criteser, our Program Director, who plays guitar, bass, piano, sax, flute and mandolin and also sings. He’s been a songwriter, a student of rock, blues, folk, jazz and classical styles, a studio owner, a teacher and a gigging musician. With this background of music study and experience, he can often help you better understand how to reach your own musical goals. For beginners, he can also help you with options for instrument purchase or rental.
3. Is there any obligation to sign up if I come in to talk? Should I bring my instrument?
No obligation at all. We just want to help you better understand Blue Bear’s programs and to answer questions you might have about teachers and classes. There’s no audition and you don’t need to bring an instrument.
4. Do I need my own instrument for my lessons or class?
You’ll need your own instrument to practice on. We have acoustic and electric guitars that can be used in class anytime you find it difficult to bring your own instrument to your lesson or class.
5. Does Blue Bear rent instruments?
No, but we can direct you to music stores that do. Or you can google Musical Instruments Rentals.
6. How big are the group classes?
Most guitar classes are limited to six or seven students. Voice classes that involve solo singing are limited to five or six students. Voice classes that involve more group singing are often limited to eight or nine students. Most other classes range in size from six to ten students.
7. I’m a square one beginner. How long before I can play anything?
It’s difficult to answer this question because there is such a wide range of natural ability and amount of time spent practicing. By the end of our beginning guitar classes, most people can play some simple songs. You’ll probably still feel like a beginner, but you’ll definitely be playing.
8. How much time should I practice?
If you’re studying an instrument, you’ll make decent progress if you can average 30 minutes a day of practice. The more time spent, the more quickly you’ll become proficient. Regular daily practice is most important, so even on your busy days try to spend at least five minutes. Then, if you can, add more time on other days to average 30 minutes. Binge practicing the day before your lesson after three or four days off is much less effective.
9. Is there homework in the classes?
You’ll walk away from most class sessions with some things to learn, practice or study. The outside time is not onerous, ranging from one to three hours per week.
10. Is Blue Bear accredited?
No, we’re not. We are not an eligible institution for foreign students to qualify for student visa.
11. Will I be the only adult in my class?
Most of our group course students are adults with day jobs, people who want to have music be part of their lives but who are not planning to become professional musicians. We do offer some classes that are specifically for younger students.
12. Is it okay to miss some of the meetings of my group class?
Missing one or two sessions of a class is usually not a problem. If you have to miss more than that, it becomes a question whether it really makes sense to take the class. (Band Workshop students should miss no more than two sessions over the 10 weeks.) Private lessons offer the flexibility to cancel as-needed with advance notice, so they might be more appropriate in some cases.
13. Can I make up a missed class?
If you let us know in advance, we can request the teacher leave handouts for you to pick up at the school. If you can get materials before the next class meeting, you can often do some of the work and not get behind. For voice classes, the handout option usually won’t work. You can usually just jump back in without any catch-up and still do fine. For those who would like to make up missed material, we offer students the chance to take a limited number of private tutorials at a discounted rate while their class is still meeting.
14. What if I find that the class is not right for me.
Your annual Member fee and the deposit on the class are not refundable or transferable; the balance that you paid is refundable or transferable if you let us know that you are dropping a class at least two days before the second class meeting. If your dissatisfaction arises sometime after the second class meeting, please let us know as soon as possible so that we can try to resolve the issue.
15. What if illness or a change in my work schedule prevents me from finishing a class?
Notify us and we’ll usually be able to offer you the chance to retake the same class in the future on a space-permitting basis.
16. What if I want to continue after my first class is over?
Near the end of your course you’ll be able to re-enroll for the following quarter’s class, either in person at the school or online. And you’re always welcome to set a time to meet with our Program Director to discuss your options.
17. Does the school have any requirements?
No, just choose one or more courses you think are right for you, and we’ll confirm them when you come in for your interview. You’re welcome to take one course, just private lessons, or any combination of lessons, classes and workshops that suit you.
18. Is it better to take a group class or private lessons?
Private lessons offer the chance for a more tailored approach to learning. You have more control over the musical direction, you’ll proceed at your own pace, and you have the flexibility to cancel with advance notice if you’re not going to be around any given week. You can also change directions or combine different topics into one lesson at will. Additionally, there are many skills that simply cannot be worked on well or efficiently in a group class, for example sight-reading for a guitar player, working on intonation (exact pitch matching) or bridging through your passagio (break) for voice students. Generally speaking, students with specialized interests, more advanced students, or students with complex schedules are probably better served by private lessons. Having said that, group lessons are a great way to learn for many people. They are very affordable, and there’s often a great social element to a class. Our teachers say that many of their group class students are helped by seeing how others are progressing (or how they may be struggling!) – it gives them some perspective and sometimes motivates them to keep with it. Some beginning students are more comfortable without all the attention focused on them. When the level and subject matter of the group class is right for you, you’ll get plenty of material to keep you busy learning and moving forward in a fun setting at much less expense than a private lesson. Classes are small enough to allow for individual attention when needed, and it is rarely a problem if you have to miss one or two sessions over the course of the 11 weeks. We also offer low-cost tutorials as a way to make up or augment class material.
19. How can I become a teacher at Blue Bear?
For more information about teaching jobs at Blue Bear, click here.