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Getting Started


What are the benefits that come from learning a musical instrument?

Playing a musical instrument offers a variety of benefits to students, perhaps most obviously by allowing them to gain an enjoyment and understanding of music. However it has also been well documented in a variety of studies that playing a musical instrument can help develop memory and concentration skills, improves coordination and dexterity, and encourages self-discipline and organisation. In addition students who study music have been found to have developed better reading and comprehension skills, and improved their mathematical ability. All of this encourages children and young people to have a creative outlet for self-expression.

Are lessons available for adults?

Unfortunately, we only provide music lessons to children and young people up to 18 years old. We recommend aspiring adult learners run an online search to see what is available in their local area.

Where can I find out what instruments you teach at my school?

We currently provide music lessons at the majority of local authority schools in the Croydon borough. Please be aware that not all instruments are taught at all schools. For more information, click here.

What instrument should I learn?

Wherever possible a child should be encouraged to make their own choice when choosing to play a musical instrument, however parents will obviously want to take into consideration many factors including cost and potential logistical difficulties. Exposure to a variety of musical styles is a good way to explore musical interests. For more information about available instruments, please explore our instruments guide.

Where are lessons taught?

The majority of lessons we provide are taught at school, during school hours; students leave their normal lessons for a short period once a week.

How do I apply for lessons?

Unless otherwise organised by your school, our lessons are organised via a waiting list system. To make an online application, click here.

What happens after you receive my application form?

When we receive your application we will put your child's name on a waiting list for lessons. We will then send you a confirmation email, or advise you of any problems with your application.

Can school lessons start straight away?

We try to start lessons as soon as possible, however there is usually at least an eight-week wait from the end of one half-term when we review applications, and the beginning of a new term when lessons will begin. This is because we need to evaluate the demand and provision that we are able to offer, and ensure teachers are able to guarantee that the lessons will take place.

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Having Lessons


When will my child's lesson be?

Most lessons will start after the first week of term. All lessons are timetabled by the individual music teacher, and depending on how many students they teach, will either contact parents or carers directly, or communicate the timetable for lessons through the school. Please contact us for any timetable queries.

How do I contact my child's teacher?

If your child’s teacher has not yet provided you with their contact details, please contact us and we will be able to provide you with your teacher’s email address or contact them on your behalf.

Can I change the kind of lesson my child has?

If you would like to change the length of your child’s lesson, for example from group to paired lessons, first get in contact with your child’s teacher. Often, if they feel that a child would benefit from having a longer lesson they will recommend this to you anyway. These changes are usually implemented at the beginning of a term or half-term, to account for the change in fees. You can also apply to change lessons type using the form here.

Can I change the time of my child's lesson?

Often changing lesson times causes disruption, not only to your child but to all children that the change effects. If you have a valid reason for wishing to change lesson times, then contact your child’s teacher. Please be aware that it is not always feasible to make changes, particularly in the middle of term, and that your child’s teacher is under no obligation to do so.

My child has not started lessons yet this term, why?

Lessons do not always start in the first week, particularly in the longer Autumn and Summer terms. All CMA teachers are required to offer 10 lessons per term, however the way that they schedule these lessons is up to them. If it is still the beginning of term and lessons haven’t started yet, do not panic, however if you know that other children playing the same instrument have already started, or have any concerns then get in contact with your child’s teacher or our office.

My child’s teacher has been in contact to say that my child is not registered for lessons this term, what do I do?

If a child is not registered for lessons it usually means that there is an outstanding payment on your account. Contact us as soon as possible and we will be able to advise you.

My child has missed a lesson, will this be refunded?

There are a number of reasons that a child may miss a lesson and in some instances, for example if the teacher is absent, the lesson will be made up. If a child misses a lesson because of their own absence from school, a forgotten instrument, or failing to turn up to their lesson, then the teacher is not obliged to make up the lesson. Similarly, if your child goes on a school trip the teacher is not obliged to make up the lesson, as this falls outside of their control and they are often not able to schedule around these events due to their commitments to their other students.

What can parents/carers do to help children learn?

There are lots of things that parents and carers can do to help children learn:

  • Try to get your child to make a commitment (say one year) to instrument studies;

  • Encourage and reinforce their success by offering positive feedback, acknowledging their improvement and complementing their growing ability;

  • Ensure that their instrument is in working order;

  • Encourage them to join groups and bands when they are able, so that they can have the enjoyment of music as a social activity;

  • Showing an active interest in their studies and keeping in contact with their instrument teacher via their Practice Book;

  • Help provide a quiet place for them to practice;

  • Encourage them to use our Learn Online resource that offers a range of videos and tools to sustain interest outside of lessons.

What should I do if my child appears to be losing interest?

Don’t panic. Many student’s interest waxes and wanes over time, this is normal. Discuss the situation with your child; there may be a solution to whatever is causing their lack of interest. Contact their instrumental teacher; they may have noticed your child’s declining interest and have some advice for you.

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Can I hire an instrument for my child’s lessons?

We can hire the majority of instruments that we teach to students, and this often proves to be a more affordable way of pursuing music, particularly for beginners.

The instruments that we are unable to hire out are guitar, drum kit, keyboard/piano and saxophone.

Download our Instrument Hire form for more information.

Should I purchase or hire an instrument?

Always take the advice of your child’s teacher before purchasing or hiring an instrument.

It is often recommended, particularly with more expensive instruments, that students begin on a hired instrument just in case what they’ve chosen to study doesn’t sustain their interest.

With certain instruments, such as the violin, it is also a good idea to hire if they begin when they are young as they may start on a smaller sized instrument but quickly outgrow it.

How do I hire an instrument?

Simply fill out an instrument hire form and return it to our office. More details can be found here.

Do I have to pick up the instrument myself?

As you are the person hiring the instrument it is your responsibility to arrange to pick it up and return it at the end of the hiring agreement.

All hired instruments are picked up and returned to us at our offices in Oasis Academy Shirley Park.

Some instruments, such as violins and cellos, need to be the correct size, and if your child has not yet had their first lesson and been measured by their teacher, they should be brought to our offices so we can measure them when the instrument is picked up.

Our hired instrument has been lost/damaged – what do I do?

Contact us as soon as the damage/loss has been noticed and we will be able to advise you. On collection of your instrument you should be given the terms and conditions of hire which will also specify the replacement value of the instrument you are hiring.

Is there any help available for the cost of buying an instrument?

The Instrument Assisted Purchase Scheme can be used to purchase instruments free from VAT for pupils having lessons with us.

We’re hoping to buy an instrument – where should we look?

Always speak to your child’s teacher before purchasing an instrument, as they will be best able to advise you on the make, model and size.

If you would like to get a general idea about prices, there are a number of great music shops in the local area, including Just Flutes & Jonathan Myall Music, Martin Phelps Music, Rockbottom, Malcolm Tysoe and Chamberlain Music. Where possible, it is usually recommended to try, or at least view the instrument before it is purchased, so buying one online may not be the best option.

I’d like to donate an instrument, what do I do?

Please contact us to discuss this further.

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Making Progress


Will my child be sitting graded exams?

Most instrumental learning will provide students with the opportunity to sit graded music exams. Your child’s teacher will advise you when it is time for your child to start sitting exams.

There is no real time scale for students to be ready to sit music exams. It really is a matter of each student getting to the right stage in their own time.

More information on Making Progress can be found here.


Apparently my child needs to sit a theory test, how do I prepare them?

The first group of graded assessments that your child sits will be largely practical exams, involving scales and arpeggios, sight reading and aural tests. Once they reach Grade 5 in an instrument they will then need to sit the Grade 5 Theory Test if they wish to progress further.

Croydon Music and Arts runs a Grade 5 Theory course on Saturday mornings to help prepare students for their theory exam. More details can be found here.


What are the benefits of taking an assessment?

Exams and assessments aren’t for everyone, but do provide a useful way to measure personal progress. We also find that young musicians are more confident following a successful assessment and the process increases their motivation to develop further. Many students benefit from working towards specific goals where they have to learn new pieces and techniques that can challenge them. The process can be very rewarding!


What can parents/carers do to support the preparation of exams/assessments?

Ensuring regular practice happens at home is key to progressing and achieving. Making use of the practice booklet to monitor practice, as well as supporting your child to explore new pieces and revisit their old favourites is a great way to help them feel inspired and engaged with their musical learning.


When can my child take an exam or assessment?

Your teacher will advise on when a good time is to do this. Your child’s progress will be recorded in your practice booklet and at the end of each school year you receive a written report from your teacher which gives an indication of your child’s progress in different areas of learning. You should speak to your child’s teacher if you’d like more information on doing an exam or an assessment.


Is there a cost for taking them?

There is no cost for achieving a Croydon Music Star, but there are varied costs for the graded exams. Visit the ABRSM website for more details on prices.


When do results come through?

Croydon Music Stars – if your child has been selected for a Music Star, their certificate will be presented to them at a school assembly, most commonly during the summer term.

Graded exams – results normally take 4 weeks to come through following the assessment day.


Are there other ways to make progress?

After a term’s worth of learning on their instrument, your child is able to become a member of our Croydon Young Musicians (CYM) Centre that takes place on a Saturday morning at our offices. Becoming a member will give them the opportunity to play with other young musicians and learn new skills. As they progress, their music group leader will advise their promotion to more advanced groups. Click here to see how our music groups work.

Through joining our CYM Centre, they can also become a member of the Croydon’s Children’s University, where they can gain rewards for getting involved in out-of-school activities, like CYM groups. Once they have completed a minimum of 30 hours of learning at CYM, they will be invited to an awards ceremony where their effort and commitment is recognised with a badge and certificate. Click here for more information on the Children’s University.

Members of our centres are also encouraged to put themselves forward to be a Student Representative for the Student Council. Reps are responsible for representing the views of their peers attending our centres. It is an opportunity to gain skills in leadership and communication, as well as meet new people from across our centres and advocate for change. The Student Council meets 2 – 3 times a term.

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How do I pay for my child's lessons?

The quickest and easiest way to pay for invoices is online using the Croydon Council online payments system, however we can also accept card payments over the phone, or cheques through the post. Please note that unless otherwise stated we cannot accept cash.

Click here for full details.

Click here to pay online. Please note, you will need your invoice number.


Is there any help with fees available?

There are some instances where we are able to offer a reduction on lessons fees. Click here to view the Fee Remission section on our Lesson Fees page for details.


My child’s lessons will begin in less than four weeks, where is my invoice?

We will have sent the invoice out to you in the post at least 4 weeks prior to the start of term. If you have not received your invoice by this time please contact us. 

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Stopping Lessons


How do I withdraw my child from lessons?

If you would like to withdraw your child from lessons we need written confirmation, either via email or post, before the invoicing period for the next term. Please contact us by the following dates:

• 15 February - to stop at end of Spring Term

• 15 June - to stop at end of Summer Term

• 1 November - to stop at end of Autumn Term

If we receive any withdrawals closer to beginning of term you may be liable to half a term’s fees for failing to give us enough notice.


What do I do with my hired instrument?

All hired instruments must be returned to our offices at Oasis Academy Shirley Park. If the instrument is left at your child’s school it remains your responsibility and you will be liable for any damage or loss.


My child is currently in Year 6, what do I do about the next school year?

If your child would like to continue music lessons and their new secondary school provides lessons with us, you will need to fill out an application form for their new school and return it to us at the beginning of July. The form to complete is the Change of Tuition form, this can be found here.

If your child is not going to be attending a school that teaches with Croydon Music and Arts, then we need you to write in to us and withdraw them from lessons at the end of their time at primary school, otherwise we may still continue to invoice you. In this instance we may be able to arrange for lessons to continue outside of school hours at our offices.

Please contact us to discuss this further.


My child is changing schools, will they still be able to have lessons?

Hopefully, if your child’s new school also provides lessons with Croydon Music and Arts. However we cannot guarantee that the same instrument will be taught at their new school. It is best to inform us that a change will be occurring as soon as you are able, and we can then advise you as to the likelihood of your child continuing their lessons with us.

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Can you recommend a private teacher / accompanist?

We do not make recommendations for private teachers because we do not carry out safeguarding checks on them.  This website, which is approved by the Musicians Union, gives good advice on looking for a private teacher:



How can I find out when an event is taking place?

The dates of all of our events, concerts, tours and holiday courses are listed on our calendar.


My child attends a music centre. When are they starting back again?

All of our centre dates are listed on our calendar.


Do you provide any other opportunities for students that aren’t just musical?

We have been working hard to expand our Arts service in order to broaden the range of opportunities we offer. Head to the pages under the Arts tab for more information.

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