Northampton

What qualifications does NCMC look for when hiring new faculty members?

Our faculty must demonstrate an exceptional understanding of the specialty they intend to teach, as well as possess ample prior teaching experience, and a demeanor that is favorable toward children.  Every teacher on NCMC's faculty has at minimum a Bachelor's degree, and more than half have Master's or Doctoral degrees in music or music education.  In addition, a background check and review of references is conducted for every new teacher by NCMC's Executive Director.

What kind of scholarships does NCMC offer?

NCMC has never denied financial aid to a qualifying student. NCMC provides partial scholarships on a sliding scale between 10% and 60%, according to a family's ability to pay. The Executive Director has the authority to give certain families with extreme hardships special consideration, but rarely is a full scholarship ever granted. This practice ensures that scholarship funds available are spread across the largest number of families who need assistance.

How does NCMC reach out to the community?

NCMC works with organizations like the Northampton Survival Center, the Amherst Survival Center, and Big Brothers Big Sisters of Hampshire County to connect with students and families who would benefit from scholarships and free programming offered by the Center, such as the Community Children's Choir. Over the years, NCMC has also provided programming for clients of the Care Center in Holyoke, Community Resources for People with Autism, and the Northampton Senior Center, as well as residents of Linda Manor and Calvin Coolidge Nursing and Rehabilitation Centers.

Where will my donation go?

Donations subsidize NCMC’s scholarship fund, free programming, and outreach projects, as well as help the organization meet operating expenses not covered by tuition.

How does fundraising help students who are already paying tuition?

The amount that we charge for tuition does not fully cover our operating expenses. In order to accomplish all that NCMC does, we need to do fundraising, apply for grants, and solicit business sponsorships. By getting involved in NCMC’s fundraising efforts, you are ensuring the best possible resources for every student who comes through our doors.

How do NCMC’s lesson rates compare to similar organizations?

The lesson rates offered at NCMC are well below the national average, and are lower than 80% of non-profit music schools in the Northeast, according to information available from the National Guild for Community Arts Education's web site. At NCMC, we make a concerted effort to keep lesson rates as affordable as possible, while making sure to charge enough to keep our doors open.

What are NCMC's primary overhead expenses?

Our primary expense is faculty payroll (we have over 50 faculty members). Other significant expenses include staff salaries (we have two full-time administrative staff), occupancy costs (mortgage, utilities, maintenance, insurance, etc.), administrative expenses (payroll taxes, website, promotional materials, etc.) piano tuning and repairs, and program and office supplies.

Why must lessons take place at NCMC? Can't the teacher come to my house?

All lessons take place at NCMC. Most of our teachers have full schedules with back-to-back lessons, so traveling to students’ homes is not an efficient use of teachers’ very valuable time. When you study at NCMC, you are part of a vibrant musical community, where you are exposed to a variety of instruments and styles, and can engage in group playing activities with other students. In addition, NCMC’s liability insurance does not provide coverage for lessons held at a student’s home.

How do lesson rates at NCMC compare with independent teachers?

In many cases, our lesson rates are comparable or less than private teachers; many teachers charge higher rates than NCMC does. NCMC teachers agree to earn less per hour at NCMC than they might be able to charge independently for private instruction, for a variety of reasons, including strong support for our mission, the administrative support they receive from our staff, and the interaction with other teachers and the larger musical community. In addition, at NCMC, we are able to provide access to quality pianos, dedicated teaching and rehearsal space, beautiful recital halls, and opportunities to perform for the public through NCMC’s outreach programs and special events.

Can I take a trial lesson before I commit to the academic term?

Yes, for private lessons you can take a trial lesson before committing to the academic term. The fee for a trial lesson is the standard rate for one lesson. For group classes, trial sessions are not available, because we need to have a minimum number of committed students in order for a group class to run.

Why are lessons only available as a year-long commitment? Can lessons be scheduled one at a time?

At NCMC, we encourage the commitment needed to support a student’s progress on an instrument. Allowing students to take lessons without regularity would be setting them up for failure. Additionally, NCMC has more than 50 teachers and 800 students each year. Tracking schedules, attendance, and fees that change from week to week would be administratively impossible, not to mention unfair to faculty members who depend on having full, consistent teaching schedules to earn a living.

How are faculty members compensated?

Faculty members are paid hourly rates for lessons and classes, and are compensated whether a student attends their scheduled lesson or not.  We have an institutional compensation scale that ensures that teachers receive regular pay increases the longer they remain on NCMC's faculty.

What qualifies NCMC as a non-profit organization/charity?

NCMC is a non-profit charitable organization, recognized under section 501(c)3 of the Internal Revenue Service code. NCMC is governed by a volunteer board of directors, and audited by an independent accounting firm every year. No single individual or group owns NCMC as a business.

Besides private lessons, what else does NCMC offer?

NCMC offers a wide array of group and ensemble programs, including group classes for young children, instrumental and vocal ensembles, a group keyboard class, and a youth orchestra.