Frequently Asked Questions

Can anyone take lessons or classes at NISOM?

Yes! NISOM is a community music school that makes music accessible to everyone. We offer instructional programs for preschoolers through senior citizens and accept students of all playing abilities, including absolute beginners. We have students from throughout the Tri-State area of all ages and offer need-based financial assistance.

Is NISOM affiliated with a college?

No. NISOM is an independent, non-profit organization and not a degree-granting institution, but we do have partnerships established with some local colleges to offer instruction to their students.

What are the advantages of taking lessons at NISOM?

Learn in a safe facility with vetted faculty among a community of musicians! NISOM is a one-stop shop for all your music education needs, no matter what your age or ability level. No experience or audition is required; NISOM is here for everyone. Under one roof we offer year-round instruction with private lessons in piano, voice, guitar, and standard band and orchestra instruments, as well as composition and group classes in selected instruments, all with a highly qualified faculty and staff. NISOM is a member of the National Guild for Community Arts Education, so you know you are receiving quality instruction in a safe environment.

In many cases families are able to coordinate schedules for multiple lessons, and parents can wait comfortably in our lobby. Family discounts are even available. NISOM also offers scholarships to those who qualify. Students are also admitted to some NISOM special programs and concerts for free or at a reduced price.

We strive to provide our students with as many advantages as possible including recitals throughout the year, instrument drop-off and music sales partnerships with local retailers, putting performance-ready students in touch with those wishing to hire performers, and more. NISOM students are accepted to honors ensembles, earn roles in musical theater, perform in churches and nursing homes, and are awarded performance-based college scholarships. Our alumni include music teachers and therapists, performers and composers, while others merely seek personal enjoyment and fulfillment and all the benefits of music education.

How do I get started?

Group Classes: To register for a group class, simply complete a registration form and submit it with the tuition payment before the stated registration deadline. Students must register for a class prior to start of a session and cannot join a class that has already begun.

Private Lessons: Students may begin private lessons at any time. Lessons are usually scheduled once a week, and billing is done in 12-week trimesters or through automatic monthly withdrawals. When you register, we will set you up with a weekly lesson time with one of our instructors. For many instruments we have multiple instructors with varying schedules, so your teacher will depend on both your preferences and schedule. Although billing is by the trimester, we will prorate the tuition for students beginning mid-session. We recommend new students register in person whenever possible, so that we can best accommodate your schedule and match you with a teacher, but registration can also be completed through the mail or in some cases over the phone. To reserve a time, we need a completed registration form as well as the tuition and registration fee payment. If you are using automatic withdrawals, we will also need an ACH form and voided check. In-person registration usually only takes five to ten minutes, but to speed up the process you can call the office in advance to check lesson time availability as well as the prorated tuition amount when applicable. You can even download a registration form to fill out before you come in. You should also review our policies before registering. Learn more: Registration Info

Will I be assigned to an instructor or do I choose?

For private lessons, students may choose from any instructor available. If you have no preference, we will match you with the most appropriate teacher based on your age and skill level who has a time available that best accommodates your schedule.

Group classes and special programs have an assigned instructor.

Do I need my own instrument?

Yes. NISOM does not provide instruments to students or have rental options. If you do not yet have an instrument, we can make recommendations for vendors that offer sales and/or leasing programs. We can also measure students (by appointment) for instruments that need sizing, such as violin and cello.

Students should bring their instrument to each lesson (except pianos of course). Students do not need to bring music stands or amps, and string bass students may choose to use an instrument at NISOM instead of bringing theirs.

Are there any age or experience requirements?

Nope. NISOM offers programs for all skill levels and ages, preschool and up.

Group classes are available for preschoolers through senior citizens and have age restrictions as listed for each class; no experience is required unless otherwise specified.

For private lessons, we recommend starting students at the ages below, which vary by instrument. No experience is required.

Piano: 6 and up. Mature children are sometimes ready to begin by age 5.

Voice: 7 and up. Note: Some, but not all, voice teachers caution against beginning serious training (on-going private lessons) before the voice has matured and have minimum age requirements ranging from eleven to fifteen. In addition to regular private lessons, NISOM offers less-intensive options including incorporating voice into piano or guitar lessons, fun children's voice group classes, and private lessons in a shorter session, such as over the summer.

Guitar: 8 and up. Exceptions may be made for younger students with permission of the instructor.

Violin: 5 and up. Young Students learn to play violin through our Suzuki Strings program, and older students receive traditional instruction.

All Other Instruments: 9 and up. Exceptions may be made for younger students with permission of the instructor.

Browse all NISOM programs by age group: Kids age 3-9 | Teens & Tweens | College | Adults

What programs does NISOM have for adults?

It’s never too late to learn an instrument! Whether you’ve always wanted to play, want to brush up on lessons you took as a child, or have been playing for years, NISOM has programs for you. Or, simply enjoy one of our great community performances!

Choose any or all of the following:

Browse all NISOM programs by age group: Kids age 3-9 | Teens & Tweens | College | Adults

What programs does NISOM have for preschoolers?

Even the littlest ones can enjoy music or even learn to play it! Choose any or all of the following to instill a life-long love of music:

Browse all NISOM programs by age group: Kids age 3-9 | Teens & Tweens | College | Adults

How long am I signing up for?

Private Lessons: When you register for private lessons during the school year, you are enrolling for the remainder of the academic year. Students do not need to re-register each trimester. Although you may pay by trimester, your time slot is automatically reserved for all subsequent trimesters of a given school year unless you notify us otherwise. The summer session has a separate registration, and students can determine the number of their summer lessons.

Exceptions: Trial periods and drop-in lessons; see policies for more information.

Group Classes: When registering for a group class, you are signing up for only the given session (usually twelve weeks). If you wish to continue in a group setting or enroll in the next level, you must register each trimester to reserve a space in the class.

How will I know when tuition is due?

Private lesson tuition for those paying by trimester is due the last week of each trimester for the next session and must be paid before the first lesson of the new session to avoid late fees. You can always refer to the calendar in your handbook or online. Reminders are sent via email, posted on signs at our office, and included in the trimester student newsletters that are sent home with students before tuition is due. NISOM does not mail invoices unless tuition is overdue.

To never miss a payment deadline or worry about a late fee, you can sign up for automatic monthly withdrawals.

What happens if I’m sick or need to miss a lesson?

Private lessons: In the event of illness or family emergency, contact the office as early as possible. These are considered excused absences, and every attempt will be made to reschedule. We have make-up days built in throughout the year for excused student absences or any NISOM cancellations. All other absences are considered unexcused, so our teachers are under no obligation to make these up. Whenever possible we will work with you to find an alternate opening in the teacher’s schedule for that week. Please read our complete absence policy in Policies.

Group classes: If students are unable to attend, they simply miss that week’s class. Sorry, but we cannot reschedule group classes for student absences. If the week’s class is canceled due to instructor absence or inclement weather, these will be made up, typically during the next make-up week or at the end of the session. Please review our complete Class Policies.

If Dubuque Schools are closed for a holiday or bad weather, is NISOM closed, too?

Not necessarily. Although NISOM runs on a similar calendar to the Dubuque schools, our closings are independent and are not automatic. Please do not assume NISOM is closed when schools are.

For our holiday schedule, please refer to our calendar.

For weather cancellations, we make announcements via radio, email, text message (opt-in only), Facebook, and Twitter. We also place notices of the cancellation on our telephone voice mail and website.

When in doubt, please call our office.

Are there practice rooms I can use?

Yes. Whenever studios are not in use during regular office hours, they are available to NISOM students as practice rooms (free of charge). Please call our office to check for availability.

Musicians who are not current NISOM students may be able to rent a space in our facility as space allows. Please contact us for information.

Are there health or intelligence benefits to studying music?

Absolutely! Numerous studies have shown all kinds of physical, mental, and emotional benefits of studying music for all ages. Read More>>

Does NISOM have musicians I can book for my event?

NISOM does not contract musicians for events, but we are happy to help you get in touch with students and faculty members who perform either as soloists or with small ensembles. The office staff will assist you in determining the best options for your event and distribute your information to the appropriate performers. Subsequent communications and any contracts and payments will be arranged directly with the performers.

I want to get involved. Do you need volunteers?

Sure! We love volunteers! We don’t schedule volunteers on a daily or weekly basis, but we can use extra hands whenever we need to distribute posters and flyers, fold programs or handbooks, stuff envelopes, enter data, and the like. Contact us to be added to our volunteer call list, or ask in the office if there’s anything you can do while you wait during your child’s lesson.


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Upcoming Events

Fall Preschool Class

Preschooler’s Music 

For Ages 4-6
Mondays 1:00-1:30 PM
Starts on...

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NISOM Awarded $50,000 in Grants

We are excited to announce NISOM was recently awarded over $50,000 in...

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