Student Handbook

Welcome

It is my great pleasure to welcome you to Levine Music for the 2020-21 year!

We continue to face challenges posed by a global pandemic, economic distress, and by the demands of creating a more inclusive community by addressing the legacy of racial bigotry. Since March, in response to the pandemic, our talented and experienced faculty have rallied to develop and offer online instruction to ensure the continuity of your musical education. We know and appreciate the importance of music’s ability to inspire and offer calm in these troubled times. Those efforts continue as we launch the new teaching year in an online format, with the hope that we can gradually introduce limited in-person instruction that, at the same time, ensures the health and safety of our students, faculty, and staff.

We remain committed to providing each of you an unparalleled music education, so that you can grow and thrive here. You will discover, if you haven’t already, that our faculty look forward to guiding you on your musical journey, and are the cornerstone of our community.

Levine students reflect a varied group of musical tastes and styles as well as a community where all are welcome no matter your age or experience. What we all have in common is an understanding that music plays a vital role in enriching our lives. Over the course of the coming year, we will report to you on our ongoing efforts to create and build a more diverse and anti-racist community.

I hope you will take some time to read through this Student Handbook to learn more about how to get the most benefit from online lessons, and for the many other kinds of help we offer to make your experience at Levine fulfilling.

If there is anything we can do to answer questions or assist you, please let us know!

Stanley M. Spracker
President

Download the 2020-21 Student Handbook

    We're Here to Help You

    Whenever you have a question or problem, suggestion or criticism, you are warmly invited to bring it to any Levine staff member. If we do not know the answer, we will find it for you.

    SUGGESTED CONTACTS:

    Help with enrollment: Campus Office, Student Services
    Questions about policies: Campus Office, Student Services
    Feedback about your teacher: Department Chair, Campus Office
    Questions about Juries: Teacher, Department Chair
    Questions about Recitals: Teacher, Campus Office
    Questions about payments: Student Services, Campus Office
    Find a new teacher or summer substitute: Department Chair

    View Staff and Department Contacts

    VIRTUAL CAMPUS

    Levine Music operates five physical campus sites, and has recently launched our Virtual Campus. This new online addition increases flexibility and opportunity for students on both a local and national level. Within the Virtual Campus, students have access to online instruction with Levine faculty without traditional geographic limitations. Many group classes and ensembles are now being offered school-wide, increasing the scope of enrichment opportunities for Levine students.

    Campus number: (202) 686-8000

    View Campus Locations

    Your Year at Levine

    CALENDAR

    Students who begin private lessons at Levine at the start of the school year enroll for 34 teaching weeks and two performance weeks. During the two performance weeks, students engage in a jury, recital, studio class, or other opportunity to showcase their progress. Students who join after the start of the academic year enroll for the remaining weeks in the year. For added flexibility, adult students may choose to take lessons weekly (36), twice a month (18), or through an occasional package (9) for the year.

    Levine Music operates year-round. Students can begin private instruction at any point during the academic year and are encouraged to continue with private lessons or participate in a group class or ensemble over the summer. Group class sessions are offered regularly. Students who enroll in a group class can find the class schedule on their Levine account under “Show Your Daily Schedule.” View the Course Catalog for all Levine class listings.

    Campuses are generally open Monday through Friday and most Saturdays. Check with your specific campus for exact operating hours. These hours may vary during the summer and holiday periods.

    View Academic Calendar

    HOLIDAYS

    Levine Music is closed on the following holidays:
    Labor Day
    Thanksgiving Break (Nov. 24-29)
    Winter Break (Dec. 22-Jan. 3)
    Martin Luther King Jr.’s Birthday
    Spring Break (Mar. 28-Apr. 4)
    Memorial Day
    Independence Day

    Levine Music operates on the following notable days:
    Indigenous Peoples’ Day
    Election Day
    Veterans Day
    Inauguration Day
    Presidents’ Day

    HOW TO ENROLL

    All students and parents must create a Levine account to enroll in private lessons and group classes. Your Levine account provides access to your daily schedule and payment history, and is another way to browse new class offerings.

    View step-by-step instructions on how to create and access your Levine account.

    ATTENDANCE POLICY

    Like other professional services, Levine reserves a specific day of the week and time slot in your instructor’s studio for your lesson (per our Academic Calendar) which we are unable to fill in your absence. For this reason, Levine does not provide refunds or make-up lessons for student absences which include, but are not limited to: travel, school, and illness. In the event that you are unable to make your in-person lesson, we encourage you to use your lesson time in one of the following ways: requesting an online lesson, or by providing a self-recording that your teacher may use to provide feedback.

    In the event of a faculty absence or Levine closure, your instructor will work with you to find a mutually agreeable solution by either offering two dates to reschedule the lesson or, when possible, arranging for a substitute instructor during your normal lesson time. If you are absent from an agreed upon rescheduled lesson, that lesson will be considered a student absence and will not be refunded. If you are unable to attend either of the two reschedule dates, the lesson will be forfeited and will not be refunded.

    Students in both private instruction and group classes should share contact information with their instructor. Campus staff is available to assist in relaying messages, however, direct communication between students/parents and teachers is preferable.

    INCLEMENT WEATHER

    In the event of inclement weather, Levine Music makes decisions on delayed opening or closing of each campus independently of local school districts. There are a variety of options available if Levine has to close due to inclement weather, including online lessons for private and group instruction, or a rescheduling of the class. Please contact your teacher regarding their specific inclement weather class plan.

    Weekday Closings: An announcement concerning delayed opening or closing of all Levine campuses will be placed on Levine’s main voicemail greeting at (202) 686-8000 and on our homepage by 7:30 AM for morning lessons and classes, and by 1:00 PM for afternoon and evening lessons and classes. If inclement weather conditions occur later in the day, Levine will make that announcement on the voicemail and website at the appropriate time.

    Weekend Closings: Closing updates for Saturday lessons and classes will be placed on Levine’s main voicemail greeting and on the website by 7:30 AM. For Sunday events and classes, an announcement will be placed on Levine’s main voicemail greeting and website by 10:00 AM.

    CHILD SAFETY

    To ensure your child’s safety, please be sure to pick him/her/them up promptly. Faculty and staff are not responsible for supervising children outside of designated teaching time.

    PHOTO AND RECORDING POLICY

    Levine reserves the right, and may give permission to appropriate staff or outside personnel and representatives of the media, to photograph and record (video, audio, or other technologies) classes, programs, performances, and participants at all our facilities and properties, and as part of online instruction. Please be aware that these photos or recordings are solely for promotional and/or educational purposes for Levine and may be used in future Levine and other print or electronic publications and media communications. By enrolling at Levine, you consent to the video or audio recording or taking of photographs of you and/or your child for these purposes. With respect to private online instruction, Levine will notify you and seek your consent before posting or sharing screenshots and videos.

    NON-DISCRIMINATION POLICY

    Levine Music is a welcoming and safe space for music-making that values all forms and expressions of diversity. As such, Levine complies with all applicable laws prohibiting discrimination in the conduct of its operations and programs.

    TUITION & FEES

    View Levine’s current private lesson tuition, fees, and discount rates.

    Payment Plans

    All students enrolling on a payment plan with Levine must have a valid credit card on file. For families wishing to make payments by check, they must coordinate this with Student Services. Check payments may be submitted either by mailing to 2801 Upton St. NW, Washington, DC 20008 or handed directly to a Levine staff member. Please note: families submitting a check via mail are responsible for their payment arriving by its due date. Levine is not responsible for checks lost in the mail.

    If a scheduled payment is missed, a student’s/family’s account will become delinquent. Students/families then must contact Student Services immediately with payment information or to communicate when payment will be available. If Student Services is not contacted, payment must be received within 14 days after the delinquent date, or lessons will be discontinued until payment is made. Please note: future scheduled payments will not be modified to accommodate late payments. Levine reserves the right to suspend or discontinue instruction of any student who is delinquent in fulfilling his/her/their financial obligations during a semester.

    Tuition Assistance

    Levine Music is dedicated to providing quality music education for all students, opening our doors to anyone who wants to learn music, no matter their ability or financial circumstances. Through the Tuition Assistance Program, we are able to make music education an accessible option to our community. The program aims to provide financial support and opportunities for those who qualify.

    Financial assistance is entirely need-based. Award decisions are based on a family’s demonstrated financial need and Levine’s ability to support a percentage of that need. Levine intends to offer aid to every eligible student who qualifies. However, it is common for the financial need of the community to exceed the organization’s available resources. In such instances, eligible applicants will be placed on a Waitlist.

    Tuition Assistance is offered on a rolling basis throughout the year as Levine’s resources are available. Visit the Tuition Assistance Program for more information on deadlines and eligibility.

    REFUND AND WITHDRAWAL POLICY

    Students must provide their instructors with four weeks’ notice if circumstances lead to a withdrawal from private lessons. Please note that no refund will be allotted after spring break, or for adult students who wish to withdraw from the 9 lesson occasional package. Students must give one week’s notice of withdrawal before the start of a group class.

    Please submit this form to request a refund or withdrawal from a private lesson or group class. You may also send an email to Student Services, sservices@levinemusic.org as another way to request a refund or withdrawal. Once a decision has been made by Levine’s Finance team, you will receive notification via email. Please be aware that Levine faculty and campus staff are not permitted to authorize credits or refunds under any circumstances.

    *A $30 administrative fee plus any non-refundable fees will be deducted from the refund amount. Processing and payment plan fees are non-refundable. Note: Camp Levine’s refund policy differs from the policy above. Refunds will be issued 15-20 business days following receipt of the completed form.

    If enrollment in a class falls below minimum, Levine reserves the right to cancel the course or to offer the class with an adjusted tuition rate, duration, and/or number of sessions with advance notice to enrolled students. Students can opt to remain enrolled, or request a refund. If a class is cancelled, refunds will be issued within 10-15 business days.

    Getting the Most from Lessons

    STUDENT GUIDELINES

    Levine Music strives to support all students, regardless of age or level, to succeed in accomplishing their goals. It is essential to prepare for lessons appropriately following the guidance of your teacher.

    Here are some top tips to get the most out of your lessons.

    • Arrive on time and prepared.
    • Be sure to have your music, instrument, and other recommended educational tools at your lesson.
    • Take notes during your lesson to retain valuable information.
    • If you have a question between lessons, ask your teacher.
    • Consistent daily practice is essential to ensure progress!
    • Follow your teacher’s practice guidelines between lessons.
    • Set-up an adequate practice space at your home, free of distractions.
    • Listen to professionally recorded performances of your repertoire and attend concerts, when you can.
    • Participate in Levine’s Merit Programs.
    • Practice performing! Sharing your music with family and friends is a wonderful way to prepare for performances.
    • Perform! Levine offers recitals throughout the year. Recitals are a great way to challenge yourself and solidify your musical education.

    Recitals and performances are a valued aspect of your musical education. Levine encourages all students to participate in performance opportunities as they arise. Participation in Campus Recitals is initiated by your teacher. If you will be performing with a pianist, it is expected that you will schedule a rehearsal prior to the event.

    PARENT GUIDELINES

    Parents are among the most important influences in a student’s musical journey at Levine Music. For younger students in particular, the right support from parents is essential to musical progress. A young student learns best when the student, parent, and teacher work together as a team.

    We ask that parents follow these guidelines:

    • Provide an adequate instrument, with the guidance of the student’s teacher.
    • Provide any additional equipment the teacher may recommend, such as a metronome and tuner.
    • Help the student set aside a time each day for practice.
    • Provide the student with an adequate space to practice, free from distractions.
    • Use praise to encourage the student to follow their teacher’s guidelines.
    • Arrange for the student to begin each lesson on time, with all materials in hand.
    • Allow the teacher to take the lead in your child’s education, and act as a supportive and encouraging figure between student/teacher sessions.
    • For online lessons, follow the advice below “Getting the Most Online.”
    • Encourage your child to perform.
    • When the student is unable to attend a lesson, please give the teacher ample advance notice.
    • Parents and/or guardians are responsible for the behavior of all family members on Levine campuses.
    • Communicate respectfully with Levine instructors and staff as concerns or questions arise.

    Levine reserves the right to dismiss any student due to frequent absences, inappropriate behavior, delinquent payments, overdue tuition payments, and/or parental or guardian noncompliance with Levine policies.

    More Than Lessons

    At Levine, we believe that a good music education is far more than private lessons and solitary practice toward proficiency.

    GROWTH

    For people of all ages, music has lasting and profound cognitive, social, and emotional benefits. For example, according to a survey article in Frontiers in Neuroscience (Jan. 20, 2014),

    Children who undergo musical training have better verbal memory, second language pronunciation accuracy, reading ability and executive functions. Learning to play an instrument as a child may even predict academic performance and IQ in young adulthood. The degree of observed structural and functional adaptation in the brain correlates with intensity and duration of practice.

    One study found that of children studying an instrument, those who practiced faithfully for 2.5 hours a week from ages six to nine experienced 25% growth in the part of the corpus callosum that connects the movement-planning regions of the two sides of the brain, while children who averaged only an hour or two of weekly practice and those who dropped their instruments showed no such growth (Science, April 16, 2008).

    A sign of the profound value of music for each person is the increased recognition of music as an effective form of therapy for a wide variety of needs including autism spectrum disorders at any age, chronic pain, and stress. Levine’s board-certified music therapists offer services on Levine campuses and at many other institutions and schools in the community.

    COMMUNITY

    We learn better when we learn together.

    Levine aspires to be a center of community, and to set a standard of open, friendly inclusion for all people regardless of ethnicity, disability, economic status, religious background, or sexual orientation and identity.

    While music can nourish us in solitude, it has always served as one of the greatest engines of social life. Many Levine students and families have become close friends with each other through group classes, ensembles, recitals, and other events. The New Horizons Band provides retirees the opportunity to return to an instrument they had studied long ago in school. Levine Music Theatre offers a remarkable opportunity to work together over long periods toward exciting public projects.

    One special kind of community engagement open to teenaged students is our lively summer Teen Apprentice Program in which teens participate in running Camp Levine, spending each day in the company of eager young learners and experienced Levine teachers.

    PERFORMANCE

    Music comes to life when we perform and hear others perform. Only in performing can art be shared with others. Performing also allows a student or musician an objective understanding of proficiency.

    For these reasons Levine Music emphasizes performance, offering a supportive and encouraging environment for the development of the performance skills. A variety of opportunities to perform, observe others perform, and study performance as a craft, are available to students of all ages and stages of study.

    Students have much to gain both as performers and as listeners, including self-confidence public speaking skills, and alternate ways in which to listen to one’s own performance. Preparing for a performance speaks to goal-setting, reinforcing the life lessons of determination and persistence.

    Performance is possible even during distance learning. Sharing performances with each other online is a unique learning opportunity. Whether performed live over Zoom or in a pre-recorded video, an online recital is a motivating creative assignment, and can increase a student’s performing skills to the next level. Pre-recording a performance to share can be a powerful aid as it requires one to listen closely, and consider trying multiple takes.

    Among the many ways Levine supports performance:

    Juries are performances by private lesson students for a group of teachers offering written feedback. Usually these do not involve an audience. Levine offers juries twice a year, in December and May.

    Our frequent Campus Recitals feature many students of varying musical levels performing for an audience of peers, families, and friends.

    Other kinds of recitals include public performances by our many ensembles, such as the Rock and Jazz combos that typically each perform a set in a public setting—public health conditions permitting. An ensemble class, whether based on written music (chamber, orchestra, band, musical theatre) or improvisation (jazz, rock band), is a powerful motivating and formative experience for a student. It teaches one to “think outside the box”- to see one’s performing skills as part of a group experience. It strengthens the student’s perspective on rhythm, musical imagination (mentally envisioning multiple scenarios in real time), and coordination with others.

    Studio classes are organized by a student’s teacher and create an occasion to perform among students with the same instructor, building community within the studio.

    Levine Music faculty, in addition to being wonderful teachers, are consummate performers. Faculty participate in many performances both at Levine and throughout the region. Our highly popular Levine Presents series offers Levine students a not-to-be-missed chance to hear Levine teachers perform in wonderfully imaginative thematic concerts.

    Enrichment Classes

    Levine Music offers many additional opportunities including workshops, masterclasses, and clinics, to further the learning of all Levine students. In workshops, students meet intensively for an afternoon or a weekend to study and practice on a specific area such as Latin rhythm or playing as an ensemble. A masterclass is a one-on-one lesson before an audience, featuring a world-class teacher and an outstanding student. In other kinds of short-term group class, a student may learn to assemble an electric guitar from a kit, or learn a wide variety of important skills needed for the clarinet. In piano performance classes, students meet several times over the course of the year for special craftsmanship training. Long-term music theory classes, mainly online, are available for very modest fees to students taking Levine private lessons. We also offer classes in composition, songwriting, musical theatre, and more.

    Ensemble classes offer the chance to train as a group, and to learn to play together. Many ensemble classes are offered in an online format. While this might seem hard to fathom, the students learn just as intensely in online ensembles (if not more intensely). Levine’s small class sizes allow faculty to offer highly personalized instruction and feedback. Additionally, recordings of other ensemble members’ parts help to create some of the collective experience in their practice at home. Levine faculty work to provide an intensive and motivating online ensemble learning experience for every student.

    We invite you to discuss the many opportunities available with your teacher, or visit our course catalog. If you have any questions about a group class, please contact Glenn Sewell, Director of Adult Programs and Group Instruction, at gsewell@levinemusic.org.

    RECOGNITION

    In addition to the certificates offered by some departments based on jury performances, Levine Music offers several Merit Programs to its students.

    The Dean’s List and the President’s Club are enrichment programs for students of all ages and abilities enrolled in private instruction at Levine.

    The Rising Stars program at Levine is a merit and need-based program for dedicated students ages 7-17 who would like to prepare for the Honors Program.

    The Honors Program at Levine is a merit-based program providing opportunities for outstanding students to enhance their musical education, gain inspiration through association with a community of their peers, and represent Levine as ambassadors of excellence.

    Getting the Most Online

    Online music lessons are a great option for music students allowing them to connect with their teachers when they cannot meet in person. Online lessons empower students to continue growing and learning while finding fulfillment in music-making.

    What do I need for online music lessons?

    Equipment

    All you need is a strong internet connection and a device with a working camera and microphone – ideally a computer or tablet, but a phone will work as well. The internet connection is most important. A hardwire (ethernet) connection is ideal, but if not, make sure you are close to your router. Optional equipment may include a USB microphone, webcam, or an audio interface.

    Setup

    Proper placement of the device helps your teacher see your technique and give you helpful feedback. Your teacher may ask you to place your device at a specific angle to better see your hands.

    A great way to start is to:

    • Place your device directly in front of you (or from the side for piano)
    • Ensure your face and both hands are visible
    • Distance your device about an arm’s length away (certain instruments may need to be farther away from the microphone to avoid distortion)

    Preparation

    Before your lesson starts, we recommend that you do the following to get the most out of your lesson:

    • Choose and set up your lesson space. Choose a quiet space in your house free of distractions with a great WiFi connection if you plan to use WiFi (to test this, check both download and upload speeds here (https://www.speedtest.net/). Because of the settings required to best hear your instrument, minimize background noises, including the presence of other family members. Ask other family members to avoid using the internet during your lesson, if possible.
    • Test your camera and microphone. Make sure that you are well-lit from the front (ideally position yourself so you are facing bright windows).
    • Prepare your music, note-taking materials, instrument, and other equipment you will need for your lesson. Make sure everything is within reach. If applicable, tune your instrument before your lesson starts.
    • Charge/plug in your device. Video calls drain the battery very quickly, so make sure you have adequate battery before your lesson starts.

    Software and Logging In

    Levine Music uses Zoom for lessons, which is a free app you can download onto your device. Follow the prompts to make sure Zoom can access your device’s camera and microphone. Prior to your lesson you will receive your teacher’s Zoom link. If you log on ahead of time, you will see a screen saying that the host has not started yet, or to wait until the host lets you in.

    Zoom allows music teachers and students to adjust the audio settings in order to better hear one another. Please make the adjustments outlined below.

    On the Zoom meeting screen, enable your microphone’s original sound by doing the following:

    • Click the upward arrow next to the microphone icon and select “Audio Settings”
    • Uncheck the box that says “Automatically adjust microphone volume”
    • Click the “Advanced” button on the lower right
    • Check the box that says, “Show in-meeting option to ‘Enable Original Sound’ from microphone”
    • Disable “Suppress persistent background noise” and “Suppress intermittent background noise”
    • When you return to the meeting screen, you should see a button in the upper left that says, “Turn Off Original Sound”
    • You have successfully enabled original sound, and your teacher will be able to hear your instrument’s true sound. To turn it off, click this button once, and it should say “Turn on Original Sound”
    • Your teacher can help you adjust your microphone level so that your loudest sounds do not come across distorted

    How are online music lessons different than in-person lessons?

    Online lessons are extremely effective and work very much like in-person lessons with just a few adjustments. While they generally require more planning time by the teacher, in some ways they have proven superior to in-person lessons. Levine’s online music lessons are active and synchronous – meaning that both the student and teacher are live at the same time, actively working through material.

    Ways in which online lessons differ include:

    • Teachers use more call and response rather than playing together at the same time.
    • Teachers may record a teacher duet part ahead of time so that you can practice with it.
    • Teachers and students can share their screen and make notes right on the music score.
    • Students can warm up immediately before, and practice immediately after, their lesson.
    • Students can record their lessons to help with their own practice. This also allows students to observe their own progress!
    • Teachers can record small instructional clips of the lesson to help with learning specific things, which can be used in practice during the week, and help make sure that students know exactly what and how to practice.