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Frequently Asked Questions

#27 (2) Am I able to choose and change the songs I’m learning? also, how many songs will I be learning per term?

This depends on the package type that you are booking. For Foundation Focused sessions, no. Artist Development and Premium Package Lessons are completely customised, and are designed to incorporate your needs and desires, so feel free to suggest songs and Ill try to look over the song(s), and we can discuss them in an upcoming session. I do recommend that you try to stick with 5 songs on rotation per term, and maybe have 1-2 changes per term. Adding or removing song count will depend on the difficulty of your songs and how fast you learn them completely. Please be aware that I may not be able to review more than 2 new songs per person per term, as Im very busy doing customised lesson plans, and teaching, etc.

#186 () Am I Able To Reschedule My Session?

As a general rule reschedulling isn’t possible for packages under Premium and Artist Development. If you do need to reschedule and are undertaking premium or artist development lessons a reschedule may be possible with over 48 hours notice of needing to reschedule with tutor discretion. If you are booking a small amount of session blocks, casual lessons, introductory lesson, or focused foundation sessions then rescheduling FOR ANY REASON generally isn’t possible outside of several weeks of advanced notice. In some instances session credits may be issued for the following term in leu of a reschedule. If the tutor is absent or unavailable you will be notified ASAP and the session will be rescheduled, credited or refunded if necessary.

#14 (4) Can I pay for my lessons in cash?

Lessons can be paid for in cash or online in advance via bank transfer. Generally lessons are paid either during each lesson, monthly, or termly. Exact change is preferred.

#15 (4) Can I pay for my lessons online?

Lessons can be paid via bank transfer no later than a week before the session, when prior arranged with Jess. It is preferred that online payment is made in full (in bulk) prior to each new term. Generally, invoices are given for students wishing to pay online. Instructor bank details are located on the contract. When paying online please bear in mind the 3 days for the payment to clear on our end, and please clearly state exactly what and who the payment is from Eg "Trudy Haines Ses3 T3" Please note that we do not have an Eftpos machiene.

#192 () Can you help me to find out my vocal range?


#117 () Can you teach harmony and song writing?

I can teach basic harmony, yes. Please be aware that to learn harmony you will need to learn some theory. Harmonies are best learnt in group sessions, so it’s a great idea to join a choir or get some friends together to organise a group session / class / activity. I am more adept with jazz and pop harmonies than classical. I can teach basic song writing, and have written and produced songs for students previously. Please be aware that to learn song writing you may need to learn some theory.

#142 () Do I have to sing at my first lesson?

That’s mostly up to you and what you feel comfortable with. Generally a first lesson entails mutual introductions, filling out the questions, an overview of what to expect, some tuition, reading over and possibly signing the agreement form, and planning for the next session(s). Hourly first lessons also include an introduction to warming up and vocal health, and I may ask you if you have any songs or techniques that you’d like to work on. We may then go through some basic warm-up exercises. If we have time and you’re keen, we could try to squeeze a song or 2 in so I can hear your voice.

#93 () Do I need to do anything before coming to my first lesson?

You should; Confirm your booking time, Get the exact address, and research how to get there Fill in and print the questions form Read (and sign) the contract if this is not a trial session Obtain and bring a folder, sheet music, pen, and water Allow plenty of time to find the studio Try some gentle humming on the way, if you get time, Try to think of some songs and techniques that you’d like to learn, nd have them prepared on a phone, usb or cd with lyrics printed.

#30 (6) Do I need to learn scales?

In the beginning, there is only one scale that is focused on, (the major scale.) Once a student has been learning for over a semester and I feel that they are ready, I may suggest new scales and exercises, depending on their learning level. Generally established and professional musicians know many scales. If you want to progress, you should be open to the idea of mastering as many scales as you can, though they certainly aren’t the epitome of singing lessons - there’s much more to the sessions, and scales can be fun.

#108 () Do the students have to learn theory?

Learning theory is optional for beginner students.

Theory is encouraged once students reach an intermediate level.

to progress past an intermediate level, students are highly recommended to learn theory in order to progress.

There are many aspects of singing that are hard to grasp without any theoretical knowledge. It is almost inevitable to tutor singing (or any kind of music) without using some theoretical terminology.

#28 (3) Do you do any sort of tests or exams?

Currently I dont do AMEB or ABRSM grading, as I didn’t grow up with it, and the resource books are quite costly. I do however occasionally quiz my students on a casual basis at random, to find out if they have retained certain information.

I try to do undertake theory and practical tests at least semesterly, where consent is given to do so by the student and/or parent. You could opt to only do theory or only do practical tests. The marks generally dont account for much, the tests are just to see what you have retained, and how you are progressing.

#13 (4, 6) Do you do gift certificates?

Yes. Our gift certificates are flexible and allow the benefactor to select the amount of tuition allowance for the recipient to receive, and can be customised for special occasions such as birthdays, Christmas, and fathers day! Suggested gift amounts include $30, $60, $120, $250, $500. Gift certificates are valid for 1 year after the date of issue, and can be used for any of our services. They can be transferred if needed, but cannot be redeemed for cash. You can purchase your customised digital gift certificate(s) through Jess via the contact form.

#19 (6) Do you have groups that my student can join?

We currently run an adult’s group on friday evenings - beginners are welcome.

#92 () Do you have toys and magazines for parents and siblings?

Yes. Yes we do. You are still welcome to bring your own however. In fact, bringing your own is encouraged for longer lessons, and restless children.

#160 () Do you offer photo shoots?

Yes! please refer to our artists and headshots facebook profile for more information.

#158 () Do you offer recording sessions?

Certinly - anywhere from quick vocal line being recorded for practice purposes to a fully edited music video - we can do it. Fees may apply.

#22 (6) Do you tutor complete beginners?

I specialise in beginners, actually! Most of the students that come through the studio are complete beginners. I’ve never had a student I couldn’t instruct!

#59 (5) How do I book a lesson?

To book or sign up for lessons you need to contact us either by phone or email, and well go from there :) Please let us know who the lessons are for, and the rough background of the student. General availability would also be helpful, as well as any leading questions you may have.

#164 () How long before my audition should I be having lessons?

Ideally as much as possible.

It’s a good idea to continue having lessons, even when you don’t have an audition to prepare for. Every lesson helps to prepare you!

Anything less than about 3-4 months isn’t not really enough time. That being said, it depends on the audition, what is required, how hard it is, and what your level of experience is.

#3 (1) How long before my lesson time should I arrive?

Most first-timers find it hard to find the place, so its advised that you plan to arrive about 10 mins early for your first session, and look us up on google maps before you leave the house well in advance. Please bear in mind that the questionnaire and agreement forms take a while to complete as well, so it’s best to do these ahead of time where possible. After the initial session, you should arrive about 5 mins prior to your lesson, and wait quietly in the waiting area for students before you to finish.

#133 () How long do I need to have lessons for?

That really depends on your ambitions and goals. the truth is, there is no magic number of lessons that you should do. The more lessons you have, the better you will become. of course, if you become a fabulous world-renowned star, and surpass my vast knowledge, it’s probably time to move on. Generally people tend to think about moving on after 2+ years of tuition, but if people are going to quit early it varies between a term to a year. I have some students who have been learning 3-5 years and still learn something new and relevant each session.

#81 () How long have you been teaching?

I began teaching my school mates in 2004 in exchange for other lessons, and mentored trombone in 2005. I regularly did warmups for the high school choir, and helped orientation students try brass instruments. I began teaching voice professionally in 2010, in Modbury North, before I branched out into studio work. I’ve been a deputy conductor and musical director brass bands from 2008 to present. I’m currently the deputy conductor and musical director for the St John Ambulance Band, based in Modbury.

#60 (5) How much correspondence will there be between tutor / student / guardian?

I give feedback on technique and song progress each lesson to whomever is in the room during the sessions, and I email the new term key information and new invoices termly for those booking regular extended weekly sessions. If you request that you would like a lot of communication regarding lessons, Ill do my best to cater for this; We can set up a communication book, email back and forth regularly, and / or set time aside each lesson to discuss things if you like. You are even welcome to sit beside your child during lessons and learn with them. Please be aware that generally I have back-to-back students, and may not get time to chat outside of lessons.

#4 (4) How much do lessons cost?

This depends on the type of lesson, lesson length, and time of the session you are booking. Lessons in 2017 are from $20 for individual 20 min walk - in classes, and from $50 for individual 60 min classes depending on your method of payment and package booked. Group costs are by negotiation. Additional costs depend on the payment agreements for the type of payment plan you have with the tutor. There are additional termly admin fees, costs for media and workbooks, and concert entry, as well as surcharges for weekends and public holidays. Please refer to the pricing tab at the top of the page to learn more, or ask Jess.

#107 () How often do you have concerts?

Main community Concerts are generally held twice a year. (Mid year and Christmas), though throughout the year we provide as many opportunities as possible, such as Karaoke nights, family fun nights, music videos, open mic nights, student feature videos, music videos and audio recordings, opportunities to perform in community events, and other starting note promotions.

#18 (3) How often should I have lessons?

It is generally recommended that lessons be conducted weekly, or fortnightly at the most. Weekly 30 min lessons are the most common option, followed by weekly 60 min lessons. Generally, I tend not to schedule lessons more than 2 weeks apart, as it is harder for students to retain information, and progress well without regular lessons. Practice regimes tend to fade with over 2 weeks between sessions.

#98 () How often should I practice?

That mainly depends on your requirements, age, and experience. Each welcome pack contains has info on how often you should practice compared to your age, frequency of lessons, and length of lessons. Generally, beginner and younger students should limit practice to between 10 mins and 30 mins, about 3 times per week. More advanced students can increase this from 30 mins per session to 1 hour sessions. It is not advised to practice actually singing for more than 2 hours per day.

#146 () I am hosting an event. Would your students be interested in performing?

If you are a local band wanting a singer, or think that my singers would be interested in yourself or your business, please contact us via the contact form. We are interested in performing at community events such as carols, parades, and fundraisers. If you have flyers, I can look them over, and will consider displaying them in my studio. I do notify my students of local concerts and events that they should attend or perform in.

#138 () I have lost my folder, and all the resources you gave me. Can I have new copies?

It is important to look after your documents, and be prepared for lessons. It takes time and money for me to reprint documents for you, and I can’t guarantee that I’ll have resources you may need at the ready, so be prepared for your lesson topics to sway if you lose sheets. Replacing lost documents will cost additional fees, depending on what you need. We aim to launch a member login section in future, where documents can be downloaded by students, based on membership level.

#57 (1) I have noticed that on your site sometimes you say "we" and "our", and sometimes you say "me" and "my". What is the story there?

I, Jess, am the main instructor, and currently the only vocal / theory instructor through Starting Note. The "We" part refers to my husband, Michael, whom assists me with various things, such as my website, studio preparations, filming, photos, media and promotion, and the occasional lesson booking. Michael is a casual contractor for Starting Note, and gets reimbursed for the work he does. Sometimes the "we" would also refer to volunteers and contractors of Michael who help to make concerts such a success :)

#84 () I need to switch my lesson time or day. Can I?

This depends on the package type you are booking, when you are wanting to reschedule and my availability. Generally every attempt will be made to change Premium and Artist development lesson bookings where alternate slots are available and sufficient notice (of 24 hours or more) is given (up to 2 per term.).

#54 (6) I think I might be tone deaf. Can you help me?

Sure I can! Ive had many students say that, and Ive helped all of them. I think it’s not that you can’t sing, you just haven’t been trained yet. By the way, hardly anyone is tone deaf, using that term in reference to how high and low a note is is actually a common mis-conception. The correct phrase is tone deaf. For the record, not many people are tone deaf either, and yes I can help :)

#85 () I wish to cancel lessons. What do I need to do?

After you have signed the contract, you will need to notify the instructor in writing of your intention to cancel. Refunds and transfers are not available FOR ANY REASON, and all pre-paid tuition fees are forfeited upon lesson termination / cancellation.

#106 () I would like to be / have my children featured on your page. How do I get them featured?

The children featured on the webpage, flyers, and facebook page have all has their parents sign a model release pertaining to the concert, recording, or photoshoot that they performed in. Anyone featured through Starting Note needs to be a regular Premium or Artist student of Starting Note. My husband Michael would happily do a photoshoot, or produce a record or film clip starring you or your child - see the pricing menu for options.

#9 (5) I would like to leave a testimonial. Where can I do this?

Testimonials are always welcomed and appreciated! To submit a testimonial, please contact Jess or make one on the Facebook page, or simply email one through.

#103 () I would rather not have weekly lessons, Can I book on a casual basis?

Yes, this is possible with our flexible block purchases and Cheaper Tuesday Walk-In appointments (see pricing panel for details.)

#90 () I’d like more time than 60 mins, is this possible?

Certainly, where there is availability. I wouldn’t go more than 2 hours in one session though...

#55 (6) I’m most likely a lot older than most of your students, is that okay?

It sure is! Youre only as old as you feel. I’ve instructed people up to age 85 in the past, and would instruct anyone who is capable of and committed to learning.

#132 () I’ve been feeling sick, Should I come to my lesson?

If you believe that attending a lesson will worsen your situation, or if you are contagious, you’d best stay home. If you are not contagious and would still like to have a lesson, we can try remedial techniques, and discuss other aspects of singing, such as theory, and breathing techniques. With the Premium and Artist Development packages it may be possible to reschedule with at least 48 hours notice. Without sufficient notice (24 hours or more prior to the lesson,) the onus is on you, and your your lesson will not be refunded.

#39 (1) I’ve had lessons with other tutors before, and it was more like Karaoke! Do you do this?

Many students have different interpretations on what to expect from lessons. I do occasionally use YouTubes and backing tracks, I feel that there is a definite place for them in tutoring, especially where the student has difficulties following sheet music, or has rhythmic difficulties. I find that YouTube videos are more environmentally friendly, more engaging for the younger generation. The lyrics on screen are also great if lyrics are unknown or forgotten. During concerts I personally feel more comfortable using backing tracks, and will use them where I can. I do attempt to tailor the tracks I use to the students. (For example, if the key is unsuitable for the student, I will change it for their needs where I can.) It is hard to obtain sheet music for every song that every singer wants to learn, as it takes time and money to research, buy, edit, and print sheet music. Sometimes there just isn’t time. Each contract explains in detail what to expect from lessons.

#163 () My child has an upcoming concert / audition. Can you prepare them for it?

Yes, be sure to book the premium or artist development packages for this feature. I’ve had several students come to me for things such as the voice, and x factor in the past. You should book lessons ASAP if you are looking to train for something specific like this. it is often hard to help a singer who has a limited timeframe! generally, anything less than 3-6 months prior to the audition months isn’t really sufficient, and the student is rarely successful in these instances.

#40 (1) My last tutor didn’t go over music that interested me, and didn’t really cater for me or my needs. What makes you different?

I make it my mission to make the studio environment a welcoming place no matter what package you are booking. I work at the student’s level and students have my undivided attention. We usually work with a few songs that I feel will work with the student. For students booking the premium or artist development sessions, song choices also include suggestions that the student wants to learn. I believe that it is paramount to tailor lessons to suit the individual students’ needs and desires for aspiring artists, with regards to what they want and need to learn and achieve. I treat each student with respect, and engage them each lesson, finding ways to explain and demonstrate concepts in a way that they will understand. We regularly run events to bring singers together into our enriching community. I have experience with special needs children before, and can tutor beginner to advanced, nd most styles from Age 4+. Anyone’s welcome.

#183 () There does not seem to be a lot of profit in singing teaching, why do you do it?

I love to share the joy that I feel when I sing, and I love to share that joy with others and to help and watch others experience this, and to learn to express themselves through song and gain confidence through learning and performing, as I feel that singing should be embraced and enjoyed. I also love those moments when a student clicks with a topic, and they beam. I’d like to be the person that helped to changed that students life for the better, and to give them a purpose, and a way to express themselves.

#200 () What are some of the benefits of learning music?

Music enriches lives. Music creates aspirations. Music is extremely good for you. Music has also been known to increase brain function and boost IQ. Students can learn many life lessons through playing music. Music is generally relaxing and enjoyable. Music is often used as a means of therapy, and can relieve stress. Music could be YOUR new dream - You’ll never know until you book a lesson and unleash your star potential!

#73 (1) What are your qualifications?

Bachelor of Music (Jazz Vocal Performance) Pedagogy (1 and 2) Conducting (1) Stagecraft (1) Elder Conservatorium of Music, Estill Method 1 & 2 Dalcroze Eurhythmics Training Current Senior First Aid Certicicate. Current Working with Children, and Mandatory Notification Current Catholic Police Clearance Current National Police Clearance

#58 (6) What does your husband do?

My husband Michael helps me out with marketing, web design and editing, and occasional filing and lesson bookings. We have conducted microphone workshops together in the past. Michael often films and photographs the concerts that my students attend, and sometimes we make DVDs of the concert together. Michael is skilled in multimedia. He is the owner and manager at Lightyear Photography and SA Wedding Mediaography and regularly does lighting, sound, photography, computer programming, and web design professionally. He has done all sorts of work for Novatech in the past - Australia’s leading media company, and is primarily a dance photographer.

#29 (6) What is the youngest age that you tutor?

Generally, I dont do 1 to 1 tutoring of voice under the age of 4-5 due to attention span & ability to focus, ability to take in concepts and mimic concepts to practice, and ability to learn and comprehend words, melodies and rhythms. I do take into account age and technical ability with all students, and we can book a trial session if you would like me to assess them properly before enrolling. I never push students past their abilities, but I do test their boundaries and help them to grow. With enough interest and dedication I may be able to organise group preschooler music lessons.

#17 (4) What is your ABN?

44 307 314 082

#2 (2) What should I bring to lessons?

It depends on what type of lessons you are having. Generally, you should bring a ring-bound folder with lyrics and music, maniscuript paper and study notes, water, pen / pencil, manuscript pad, CD / iPod / USB etc with audio music to rehearse, and a recording device if you would like to record your lessons for personal use.

#143 () What should I expect during my first lesson?

Generally a first lesson entails signing of the contract, mutual introductions, and an overview of what to expect.

Hourly first lessons also include an introduction to warming up and vocal health, and I may ask you if you have any songs or techniques that you’d like to work on.

We may then go through some basic warm-up exercises.

If we have time and you’re keen, we could try to squeeze a song in so I can hear your voice.

#47 (6) What times and days do your lessons run?

lessons in 2017 run on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays from around 3pm until late (usually ending between 7-8pm.) Occasionally we run special events at alternate times, and catchup sessions tend to occur on Wednesdays after school where needed. Other times and days may be able to be arranged for a small out-of-hours-fee at the instructors discretion.

#102 () Where are the best places to purchase sheet music?

I like to shop on-line, as the prices tend to be cheaper than physical stores these days. I use for most of my sheet music, as the keys can be changed, and it has most songs I want / need, with the ability to play back in it’s own player, and change the key. is okay, though I don’t feel that the deals are as fair. there is less ability to change keys. There are some sites such as, eBay, and Gumtree that often have good deals on second hand music books. If you are set on getting your sheet music fast, and locally, you could check out some of Adelaide’s music shops, such as; Billy Hyde, Allan’s Music, Harrison Music, Cecere’s Music, Presto Musical Repairs, Music Corner, and Holden Hill Music.

#56 (6) Where do you teach?

Lessons are conducted at my Parafield Gardens studio, and I don’t do house calls due to time, equipment, and transport restraints. If you are interested in a large group workshop being hosted for your business or event, we may be able to arrange something to suit you. I’ve been considering doing online lessons via Skype, please message me if this interests you.

#110 () Why do I need to warm up?

In a nutshell, singing uses muscles, and muscles need to be stretched gently to avoid tearing, rupturing, and other damage. Warming up efficiently exercises, tones, and strengthens the voice. We can develop a larger vocal range, improve pitch accuracy, increase projection, increase breathing capacity and develop better vocal agility and tone by warming up.

#201 () Why do you encourage weekly lessons on a termly basis?

There are a few reasons that I do this. I believe that frequent, weekly lessons encourage the students to practice regularly. The frequency gives them adequate time to study and practice the latest lesson content, but isn’t long enough for them to forget the lesson and it’s concepts entirely, and risk become uninspired. Students need sufficient breaks, which is why the two week, and holiday breaks are perfect for students. Without breaks, students often burn out. Anticipation also makes the heart grow fonder :P Please bear in mind that music takes time to appreciate and understand! You can’t expect to know your capabilities in a handful of lessons lessons! It takes a few terms to even begin to understand the complexities and wondrous nature of the voice, which is another reason why blocks of termly lessons are encouraged.

#80 () You seem young, how many students have you taught?

Oh, it’s definitely well into the thousands by now! Sometimes I have trouble remember who certain students were when I go back over my records... On a regular basis I teach between 40 and 70 students per week. I’ve been tutoring all ages, all levels, and most styles professionally since 2009.