Lesson FAQs

Click on these questions to jump to the topic of interest:

  1. Why Pakachoag?Suzuki Group May 16 W
  2. What can Pakachoag do for my child?
  3. What levels of instruction do you offer?
  4. What is the average class size?
  5. What instruments do you teach?
  6. What age levels do you teach?
  7. Is there a student orchestra?
  8. Where do students perform?
  9. Do you have a relationship with local schools/arts institutions?
  10. Are most students training for careers in music, or for other reasons?
  11. Are lessons available at locations beyond Auburn?
  12. Can an instructor come to my home to provide lessons?
  13. Can I afford lessons?
  14. How competitive are your fees?
  15. Do you offer any financial aid?End of year certificate W
  16. Are lesson times convenient for me?
  17. Is there parking?
  18. How far is the School form Worcester and surrounding towns?
  19. Are the teachers competent, and would they care about my child?
  20. How big is the School?  How well established?
  21. What ‘type’ of student attends your school and what has it done for them?
  22. What is your admission process?  May any child attend?

Why Pakachoag Music School? A Quick Overview

Lessons at Pakachoag provide both depth and breadth of education which is difficult to achieve in other settings.

This is achieved, first, by assigning students to a ‘teaching artist’, considering individual style of teaching and student interest when possible.   Each of Pakachoag’s private instructors is a specialist within their specific instrument, having attained a high level of performance ability themself.  This means that students receive, starting with the very first lesson, careful guidance with regard to establishing good habits for musical success.

In addition, because the school hosts a number of other related programs, including performance opportunities, theory classes and an examination program for piano students — most offered at minimal, discounted, or no additional cost — students have multiple opportunities to explore and develop additional skills that lead to overall musical success.

The Scoop: Answers to Some Common Questions

What can Pakachoag do for my child?

At Pakachoag, we focus on nurturing each student’s natural talents while also providing some of the tools needed for happy, productive, and healthy future citizenship. As a Pakachoag student, your child initially will develop solid foundation skills for on-going enjoyment and success as a musician. Over time, these skills are taken to the next level, allowing students to discover what it means to be a soloist, chamber musician or orchestra member.
During their studies at Pakachoag, students also acquire a host of other skills which impact success in school and beyond. For instance, as national research continues to demonstrate, music lessons help students develop higher levels of analytical and creative thinking, and self-discipline.
At Pakachoag, students have the opportunity to work with a teaching artist, often over many years, while developing friendships with other students. It is these relationships which lead to stronger outcomes than those generally achieved when taking lessons through a home studio or with a music generalist. In addition, the culture of Pakachoag’s private instruction program, one which sets high expectations for all of its students in a nurturing performance-oriented environment, further makes the School stand out in terms of student achievement, musical and otherwise. 

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What levels of instruction do you offer?

All levels, from beginners to advanced. Teachers enjoy working with beginners as this allows each of us to set a student on the right path for sustained success. In addition, many of our teachers, as ourselves high school musicians, moved through the public school sponsored district and all-state programs and are therefore adept at preparing advancing students for these auditions. Because each teacher is a professional musician and performer in their specific instrument of expertise, they are also able to prepare students for entry into a college music major program if desired. Back to Top

What is the average class size?

Other than the beginning keyboard class which accepts up to four children in a group, the private instruction program provides one-on-one individualized weekly lessons. Back to Top

What instruments do you teach?

Pakachoag teaches most of the common instruments as noted to your right above. Back to Top

What age levels do you teach?

While the school serves all ages – birth to retirement, for private lessons, children may begin as early as age 4 or 5 if interested in Suzuki violin or Suzuki guitar. Piano students usually begin around age 6 or 7 and up; other instruments such as flute, trumpet or clarinet usually require a student to be closer to 9 or 10 years old and up. Older students as beginners or with previous experience are welcome, as are adults.   Back to Top

Is there a student orchestra?

Yes. Pakachoag offers several ensemble options, including an alliance with the Worcester Youth Orchestra for experienced musicians; and the Young Performers Orchestra which accepts beginning players aged 7 to 9; or 8 to 11. Private teachers will often recommend a specific ensemble as the student progresses.  Back to Top

Where do students perform?

Each year, Pakachoag hosts over 25 different performance opportunities which include casual or ‘practice’ performances in the education wing performance hall; and four weekends of formal recitals scheduled in Pakachoag Church’s Great Hall. Experienced performers are occasionally invited to perform off-site as part of school outreach concerts or may opt to audition for the bi-annual Student Honors Recital. Outreach venues have included performances at Mechanics Hall, Hanover Theatre, Tower Hill Botanic Gardens, the Worcester Art Museum, and other area civic centers and churches.   Back to Top

Do you have relationships with local schools or arts institutions?

Currently, Pakachoag enjoys alliances with the Worcester Youth Orchestra and Worcester Children’s Chorus which provide high quality ensemble and choir opportunities. We encourage our students to participate in their public school music programs whenever possible, recognizing that Pakachoag extends and complements, rather than replicates, the music experiences available through many public schools.   Back to Top

Are most students trained for careers in music, or for other reasons?

Most students at Pakachoag simply like to play music and view music lessons as part of their on-going education. Some Pakachoag students decide during high school that they wish to pursue music professionally in which case their teacher assists them in preparing for college auditions.   Back to Top

Are all lessons at Pakachoag’s main address – 203 Pakachoag Street?

Private Lessons are currently offered at the School’s main facility in Auburn, with some instruments also offered in W. Boylston.   Back to Top

Can an instructor come to my home to provide lessons?

No. While home lessons can offer a convenience to families, we believe the experience of being part of a community school offers a stronger educational opportunity for the long run. Back to Top

Can I afford lessons?

Pakachoag offers on-going payment plans which allow parents to pay tuition in blocks of about 8 to 10 weeks, following an initial deposit. This generally makes lessons affordable for most average income families. Admittedly, private lessons require a financial commitment of a higher level than that required for group programs like swimming classes or gymnastics; but the one-on-one instruction provided during a private lessons results in higher rates of success and achievement over time.    Back to Top

How competitive are your fees?

Our rates are similar to schools which offer a similar level of faculty expertise. Because Pakachoag’s private instruction program includes additional opportunities such as regular, on-going performance activities, a school accompanist, and significantly discounted theory classes, along with bright, spacious and accessible facilities –a Pakachoag music education provides a high-level experience at a very competitive cost.  Back to Top

Do you offer financial aid?

Yes. Each year, Pakachoag distributes over $10,000 in financial aid to families of low income. A simple one page application and documentation of income is all that is required to apply. Assistance is awarded on a first-come / first-served basis, with continuing students receiving precedence at the beginning of each school year. We urge families seeking assistance to submit an application at any time. If aid is not available at the time of submission, your application will be wait-listed. For families who do not quality for aid, the School is willing to consider alternative payment plans on a case-by-case basis.  Back to Top

Are lesson times convenient for me?

Usually. Lessons are scheduled according to teacher availability, and we usually find that we are able to identify a lesson time that accommodates everyone’s schedule. This includes some day time lessons (for adults and home schooled children), as well as after school and evening hours. The longer you are enrolled, the greater chance you will have to secure your ideal time. This is because continuing students are provided a pre-registration option each June for the following September allowing them to renew their existing time or request a different time.  Back to Top

Is there parking?

Yes. The school is housed in the Pakachoag Church education wing. A large parking lot sits at the rear of the building, abutting the school’s entry.  Back to Top

How far is the school from Worcester and surrounding towns?

Because Pakachoag sits within a triangle where four major routes (routes 290, 20, 12, 146) intersect, we can be reached very easily from all directions. From most Worcester neighborhoods, the school is a car ride of between 2 and 15 minutes. From Shrewsbury center or Sutton, the ride is 20 minutes; from Sturbridge, about 25 minutes. The School is located two miles up the hill from Holy Cross College, about one mile from the Auburn Mall, and 3.5 miles from the intersection of Rt. 146/20.   Back to Top

Are the teachers competent? Will they care about my child?

Yes. Every teacher at Pakachoag has chosen private music instruction as one of their primary vocations in life. It is our joy to work with young people (and older ones too) and support their growth, musically and otherwise. If you ever feel that your child is not getting what they need or might benefit from a different teaching style, please speak with the Director, Sarah Smongeski. Sarah will work with you to find the best match possible. Most of our teachers have between 10 and 20 years experience teaching privately. The average length of service at Pakachoag among faculty is five years. A number of teachers have served for over 10 years.  Back to Top

How big is the School? Is the School well established?

Roughly 300 students attend Pakachoag weekly; over 400 during the course of each year. Approximately 130 of these students take private lessons. The school has been and is an active member of the National Guild for Community Arts Education throughout its 30 year history. You can read some of the typical parent and community responses to the School’s work on the web page “What Others Say”.  Back to Top

What type of student attends your school and what has it done for them?

Pakachoag is a school of and for the community. This means students of all backgrounds and abilities attend the school. Over the years, in part a result of the self-discipline and analytical skills honed through music study, students have gone on to study at some of the country’s finest institutions of higher education; others choose to stay close to home pursuing studies at some of Worcester’s local colleges or enter into a trade. While a number of students have pursued music professionally – as performance, music business and technology, church music, and music education majors – others have chosen from a range of careers. These include careers in engineering and the sciences, social services, law enforcement, all areas of medicine from research to physician, business, and education – from classroom teacher to principal.   Back to Top

What is your admission process? May any child attend, or do they have to demonstrate musical talent?

Pakachoag’s private lesson program is open to anyone with a desire to learn a musical instrument. All that is required is a commitment to practice (we generally recommend six out of seven days once a child gets into the routine). While many of our students exhibit natural talent, we believe all students can learn; over time, hard work often outweighs talent in attaining success..   Back to Top