Kotrba Piano Studio Policies

Eagan Minnesota 55122
651.335.8560 (cell to text for lesson cancellation or late arrival)  


Calvin at the Concerto Event

Curriculum and Information 2017-2018    

My desire is to cultivate in each student a love of music and artistry through the study of piano. I do this by offering quality instruction paired with activities geared to give students a sense of joy and pride in their musical accomplishments. The program is geared toward families with a strong commitment to music study. This is a piano priority studio. I give the dates for our required studio activities for the school year in early September.  Please mark your calendars. Attendance is required at individual lessons, group lessons and winter and spring recitals.

Individual Lessons     All students will receive sixteen weekly lessons each spring and fall semester. Each lesson includes: technical, study, review of previous literature, music theory, new literature, sight-reading, and ear training.

Attendance     Attendance is the single most important commitment to your lessons.  Unless we have discussed it, a parent is required to attend each lesson. Because of scheduling limitations there will be no make-up lessons for illness or last minute absences. I have provided a copy of the studio schedule, if you need to temporarily switch with someone you may contact them, but they are not obligated to accommodate you. There are no weather related make-ups. If I must cancel a lesson I will offer a makeup or credit your account for a summer lesson. 

Practice Guidelines     Practice is the most crucial element for progress and positive self-esteem. Families will be provided a practice notebook to track weekly practice and listening. Students are expected to practice between 5 and 7 days a week.  Practice is not optional. Please use the following age appropriate minimum:


                  3 to 5 years old……………………….10 to 30 minutes a day

                  1st through 5th grade…………………30 to 60 minutes a day

                  Middle School………………………………..45 to 60 minutes a day

                  High School………………...…………60 to 90 minutes a day                                                                           


Group Lessons  Students are required to attend group lessons. Each lesson will be age appropriate and include performance opportunities, theory study, ensemble playing, composition, and ear training. Group lessons are once a month. The importance of attending group lessons cannot be overstated.  Please give me notice if you will not be able to attend a group lesson.

Tuition  While I calculate tuition by the length of lesson, your tuition includes 16 private lessons, group lessons, recitals, graduation recitals, and my participation in the S.A.M. recitals, master classes and chamber music. You will receive an invoice each time tuition is due. Tuition is due at the first lesson of each semester when the invoice is given. You may pay in full or in two installments, the second of which is due at the ninth lesson. Contact Sara for current tuition amounts. 

Suzuki Association of Minnesota Fall Workshop  I am the current president of the Suzuki Association of Minnesota. We have planned a wonderful fall workshop. This year our guest clinician is Michiko Yurko and she will be doing teacher training of her Music Mind Games theory program. Students will have the opportunity to participate in an afternoon workshop on Saturday October 14. They can also attend/audition for the student honors/faculty recital and attend the faculty improvisation recital. Registration is limited and is $75.  Parents register their students through the Suzuki Association of Minnesota website www.suzukimn.org.

Recitals  We have two required formal recitals each year. The first one is in December in my studio.  Space is limited so please limit invitations to immediate family only. A holiday reception will follow. The second recital takes place in the spring at Hennepin Avenue United Methodist Church in the art gallery.  Guests are invited, a reception will follow. There is no recital fee, the recital is my gift to the studio.

Parent Appreciation Dessert Party  In January, parents only are invited for dessert at an afternoon party in my home.  Come share ideas.

Incentives for Students  Students can earn “Kotrbucks” by practicing and performing and being involved with musical activities. Prizes can be redeemed at group lessons each month.

Communication  Please feel free to email me any ideas, questions, or concerns about your lessons.  We can also set up a time to talk on the phone or at the studio.  You can text me that you are late or unable to attend your lesson. I do not check my home messages frequently. Please send an email or text to alert me to a last minute cancelation.

 Chamber Music Festival   Again this year, I am pleased to announce that Conor and Adrianna O’Brien will be leading our chamber music festivals in November and February. There will be a fee for this event and students will have the opportunity to rehearse and perform their selections.

 Individual Graduation Recitals      When a student completes a book level to the satisfaction of the teacher, the student has the option to perform a book graduation recital.  Parent, student, and teacher will plan the recital.  The student will receive a trophy from me for graduating. (also see S.A.M.)

 Suzuki Association of Minnesota(S.A.M.)   My membership in this organization gives the students opportunities during the year. All students are encouraged to play on one of the spring S.A.M. recitals. In order to graduate, students must submit a video via YouTube of the required piece from the book level they wish to graduate from. At the graduation concert they receive a trophy from the S.A.M. There is an additional fee for this event. S.A.M. also provides performance opportunities for advanced students. Students graduating from Books 6 and 7 can audition to perform in an honors recital with the other instrument graduates.  There is a $20 fee to perform and a $40 fee to graduate.

Suzuki Piano Teacher’s Guild  This is our local Suzuki Piano Organization. We host a series of recitals for students in Book Four and above.  This is a great chance to see advanced Suzuki students from around the area. There is a $20 fee for this event.

 Performance Preparation   Two months before each recital or performance, or whenever we have chosen repertoire, students work toward 50 perfect repetitions of their pieces.  After the recital students will be rewarded with a treat equal to their efforts!    

 Music Theory Study Each student will complete a theory curriculum representative of his grade each year. Theory books are available from me and I will put the cost on your invoice.

 Workshops Families are encouraged to attend Suzuki institutes and workshops.  Examples of these are the MacPhail Institute but there are many others.

Other Important Guidelines

  •  Parents, students, and visitors will only have access to the entry foyer, the restroom, and the studio.
  • Students and siblings must be under parental supervision at all times. Arrive in time to for everyone to use the restroom before the lesson if necessary.
  • Please wash your child’s hand and make sure his fingernails are trimmed.
  • There is no food or drink allowed in the studio or waiting area.
  • Siblings may not use ELECTRONICS with headphones IN THE STUDIO

Parking   Parents can park anywhere in our driveway. Do not block other cars. You may also park anywhere on the north side of the shared driveway. For group lessons or recitals, it may be necessary to park along the driveway or on Skater Circle, the street one house south of ours. 

 Information About the Teacher

Sara Stephens Kotrba earned her Bachelor and Master of Music Degrees at the University of Texas at Austin. She is a Suzuki Piano Teacher Trainer for the Suzuki Association of the Americas. She has studied with Doris Harrel, Betty Mallard, David Renner, Amanda Vick Lethco, Kiyoshi Tamagawa,  Sophia Gilmson and Kathie Faricy. She has been invited to teach at workshops around the country and her students consistently receive honors in the national Suzuki community. She has a great love of both music and young people, and 30 years experience teaching Suzuki Piano. She is the choir accompanist at Easter Lutheran Church and she is the author of a blog about teaching, parenting, music and faith at www.kotrbapianostudio.blogspot.com. She is a past president of the Suzuki Piano Teachers’ Guild and the President of the Suzuki Association of Minnesota.