Studio Policies

Studio policies are subject to change from time to time, including mid-session. As part of the Agreement for Bender lessons, students, parents, and guardians are subject to the following studio policies.



Our curriculum is a combination of the standard cannon of music practicum, along with decades of academic training and pedagogical experience. Our curriculum is designed to teach you the next sequential concept(s) in a highly specific progression designed for your instrument’s learning curve. Unfortunately, the music you bring us is either too easy or too difficult for you, or simply doesn’t make musical sense.

We teach music sight-reading, music concepts, and technique; we do not teach random scores or the latest anime, film score, or cool song you want to learn. You can, however, apply the skill and technique we teach you in our courses, and certainly play those pieces at home on your own, when you reach the capability level for those pieces.

Please do not ask us to modify our curriculum. Our curriculum is integral to our pedagogy. Our curriculum is one of our most competitive advantages. If you learn the music we assign you at the time we present it to you, you will learn the techniques and skills in the right order, that will allow you to play the music you want to play on your own. Thank you for your understanding.



Bender Conservatory lessons contain proprietary information, developed over decades of formal training and experience, which is intended only for enrolled students who have paid tuition. There is no way to prevent recordings from being exposed to the greater internet, and thereby accessible for free to non-Bender students. It is not fair to other enrolled students for your lessons to be recorded and potentially exposed for free, when other students have paid tuition. Absolutely no audio nor video recording is allowed by Bender clients and students.

Bender associates may record the lesson for education analysis as part of the lesson, or to use as training materials, such as recorded lectures, so that all Bender students may benefit from these training materials, as your child may also benefit from training materials recorded in other Bender student lessons.

Food & Drink


You may not bring any food nor drink of any kind into this studio. This studio contains electronic equipment and musical instruments that will be damaged upon any accidental spill. Any food brought into this studio will attract animals and little critters at night. No food nor drink of any kind is allowed, except Johnny’s coffee.

Instrument Handling


The instruments and equipment in the Bender studio are not toys. Please do not touch, and do not allow your children nor their siblings nor friends to touch, any instrument or piece of equipment on which the student has not been trained during a Bender lesson. This includes mixing consoles, computers, and the wires / cords.

Instrument Recommendations

We emphatically cannot recommend what brand nor instrument size you should purchase. If you ask us for recommendations, we will have to repeat our policy, and refrain from making any recommendation, for the following reasons:

No two instruments are the same.

An instrument is a personal item, and there is no way we can understand the relationship between your child and your child's instrument, when making your purchase. Every student is a different size, with different arm lengths, and different personal tastes and desires.

Your child is growing.

If we recommend an instrument size, and you purchase an instrument, three weeks later your child may need to purchase a different instrument of a different size. While we do know what size your child needs, we don't know when your specific child will go through growth spurts, and we do not want to be held responsible if your child needs to purchase a new instrument very soon.

We also cannot know the history of every instrument brand, nor the history of a used instrument you may be considering.

There are excellent used instruments, and there are defective used instruments. Please do not send us your links or pictures of instruments you may be looking at purchasing. From a liability standpoint, we cannot comment on them. Over time, your child will learn in our studio what makes a good instrument and what to look for when purchasing an instrument, but that is a long process, because it relies on your child developing capability on the instrument to understand an instrument's idiosyncrasies.

Instrument sales is not our specialty. Our expertise is instrument study, not sales.


Each individual lesson is graded on the following scale from 1-10:

9-10 = A

8-8.9 = B

7-7.9 = C

6-7.9 = D

Below 6 = Fail

Students begin their lesson with an automatic 9.5. Grades decrease according to the following:

Failure to bring a book: -0.5

Failure to practice: -0.5 through -1.5

Failure to follow instructions: -0.25

Display / ringing of cell phone: -0.25

Disrespect: -1 for each occurrence.

Disrespect includes, but is not limited to, talking back, playing your instrument while the instructor is speaking or demonstrating, continually challenging instructions, getting offended when the instructor corrects technique, constantly asking questions (as a means of procrastination), kicking the piano or abusing the instruments / equipment, causing a disturbance, and preventing the lesson from moving forward. Instructor will give this specific verbal warning, "We have to continue with the lesson", or, "Let's continue with the lesson", when student is becoming or bordering on becoming disrespectful.

Failure to participate: -2 for each occurrence.

Failure to participate is a particularly nasty form of disrespect, because it is typically passive-aggressive, giving the student plausible deniability when explaining the poor behavior to the parent.

Sometimes students are disrespectful, because they are in a bad mood, but they still participate in the lesson. Failing to participate is an especially disruptive behavior because it causes the lesson to breakdown so as to be unable to continue. When children fail to participate, they often attempt to do it passive-aggressively, by pretending to be unable to respond to instructions which they have already mastered, failing to bring books multiple weeks in a row, deliberately failing to affix or use the proper accessories to play the instrument, and even pretending not to understand nor be unable to execute even the simplest of instructions. Failure to participate generally occurs when a student decides one of the following things:

  • The student believes he knows more than the instructor, or that the instructor has chosen the wrong curriculum (generally occurs from students who came from previous instructors who had skipped ahead, so the student worked on advanced repertoire without having mastered the basics, or came from prior instructors who did not have a comprehensive code of conduct policy.
  • The student has decided she does not want to attend the lesson today.
  • The student has just had a difference of opinion with his/her parent, and decides to rebel by failing to participate (this can be exacerbated if the parent remains in the room during lesson).
  • The student has just returned from vacation, and does not want to get back to work.
  • The student has not practiced for more than two weeks in a row, and thinks that by failing to engage, the parent will withdraw the student from lessons (not recognizing parents are obligated to pay full semester tuition).
  • If the student fails to participate, Bender reserves the right to terminate the lesson. If the student fails to participate for two lessons throughout the session, Bender may suspend the student for two lessons (without a refund), and if the student returns and continues to be disrespectful or fails to participate, Bender may, at its sole discretion, expel the student, without a refund, nor any recompense.

    Failure to take notes: -.5

    When the instructor writes on the Whiteboard, the student is expected to write down everything the instructor writes, in the student's staff notebook paper.

    Failure to perform in the Final Studio recital is an automatic 20% decrement from the student's total grade. For example, if the student's final grade is 86%, and the student fails to perform in the final studio recital, the student's final grade will be 66%. Students are expected to make Bender recital performance their first priority. Your sports team can play without you, but you alone must perform your recital piece.


    All recommendation requests must be submitted through the Bender online portal. We give recommendations to students who meet the following criteria (meeting the criteria does not obligate us to give recommendations, however, recommendations will not be unreasonably withheld):

  • Completed twelve sessions within a six year period, with an average GPA of 9 or greater for the past six sessions,
  • or

  • Complete six sessions within a three year period, and have received an official Bender Conservatory Certificate of Accomplishment, Proficiency, or Virtuosity, and the Certificate is not expired (Certificates of Virtuosity are terminal, and have no expiration date)
  • and

  • The account to which the student belongs is not delinquent nor suspended.
  • The student does not have a criminal record.
  • The student is of good moral character (at the discretion of Bender).
  • Certificates

    Student enrolled at Bender are automatically on a certificate track. Bender confers the following Certifications of Achievement. These certifications are official, and require rigorous work to achieve. These Certifications will have the official Conservatory signatures and the official Bender seal, either embossed or waxed on the certificate.

    Certificate of Accomplishment.

    Signifies that the recipient is an accomplished musician on the instrument.

  • Pass nine Individual Instrument Instruction accomplishment sessions at Bender, with a GPA of 7.5 or greater
  • Participate in two sessions of a Bender ensemble.
  • Pass MUS 403: Individual Instrument Instruction 4C - Your Instrument, with a GPA of 8.5 or greater
  • Perform in nine Bender recitals (individual and ensemble in one recital may count as two separate performances).
  • Volunteer to assist in the setup and breakdown of two Bender engagements / recitals
  • Pass a written examination of accomplishment, including harmony and voice leading theory exercises
  • Pass a performance exam of two appropriately rigorous repertoire pieces selected for your instrument
  • Pass a scales and arpeggios exam on your instrument
  • Pass an ear training exam, identifying all intervals, the four basic chords, and seventh chords.
  • Certificate of Proficiency.

    Signifies that the recipient is a proficient musician on the instrument.

  • Is an accomplished musician (in possession of a Bender Certificate of Accomplishment, and the certificate is not expired), and
  • Pass six Individual Instrument Instruction proficiency sessions at Bender, with a cumulative GPA of 8 or greater
  • Participate in two sessions of a Bender ensemble.
  • Pass MUS 603: Individual Instrument Instruction 6C - Your Instrument, with a GPA of 8.5 or greater
  • Pass MUS 101: Individual Instrument Instruction 1A - Piano, with a GPA of 9 or greater
  • Perform in six Bender recitals (individual and ensemble in one recital may count as two separate performances).
  • Volunteer to assist in the setup and breakdown of two Bender engagements / recitals
  • Pass a written examination of proficiency, including harmony and voice leading theory exercises in all twelve keys
  • Pass a performance exam of four appropriately rigorous repertoire pieces selected for your instrument, demonstrating proficiency on your instrument
  • Pass a scales and arpeggios exam on your instrument, for all twelve keys
  • Pass an ear training exam, identifying intervals, and all chords in existence.
  • Pass a significantly rigorous sight-reading test
  • Certificate of Virtuosity.

    Signifies that the recipient is a virtuoso musician on the instrument. Bender formally recognizes virtuoso certificate holders as professional musicians.

    This is a terminal certificate of technical agility on one's instrument. There is no expiration date on a Bender Certificate of Virtuosity. However, Bender Certificates of Virtuosity can be revoked at any time for the reasons stated below.

  • Is a proficient musician (in possession of a Bender Certificate of Proficiency, and the certificate is not expired), and
  • Pass nine Individual Instrument Instruction sessions at Bender (701, 702, 703, 801, 802, 803, 901, 902, 903), with a cumulative GPA of 8.25 or greater
  • Participate in four sessions of a Bender ensemble.
  • Pass MUS 903: Individual Instrument Instruction 9C - Your Instrument, with a GPA of 9 or greater
  • Pass MUS 103: Individual Instrument Instruction 1C - Piano, with a GPA of 9 or greater
  • Perform in nine Bender recitals (individual and ensemble in one recital may count as two separate performances).
  • Volunteer to assist in the setup and breakdown of four Bender engagements / recitals
  • Pass a written music exam, including music theory, harmony and voice leading, music history, score analysis, and form analysis.
  • Attend two symphony orchestra concerts as an audience member
  • Attend two chamber concerts as an audience member
  • Attend one jazz concert as an audience member
  • Attend one choral concert as an audience member
  • Pass a Hanon exercises exam on your instrument.
  • Prepare and memorize six virtuosic pieces.
  • Record a professional album of your six virtuosic pieces.
  • Book a venue, create and print programs, and perform a full concert of your four proficiency pieces and your six virtuoso pieces (ten pieces total), and fill at least one hundred seats in the audience.
  • Certificate Revocation

    Bender reserves the right to withhold or revoke Certificates for any of the following reasons:

  • any part of the student's account is in financial delinquency
  • the student does not demonstrate high moral character
  • the student has engaged in moral turpitude offline or over the internet
  • the student has spoken ill of or shown contempt for the Bender name among the community, or has engaged in acts the result of which disparage Bender's goodwill among the community
  • other reasons of similar nature which may arise
  • Your Bender certificate is not the end of your course of study at Bender, rather, it is the beginning of your journey as a musician, and chiefly, as an Artistic Citizen of the World. As a Bender Conservatory certificate holder, you naturally represent the Bender name, and the education and accomplishment for which Bender stands. Your certificate(s) can be revoked and our recommendations of you rescinded at any time, at Bender's sole discretion, for reasons of encouraging or engaging in moral turpitude, including contributing to the moral or spiritual degradation of society, both on the internet and in the real world.