Frequently Asked Questions

General questions

What is a Conservatorium?

Interestingly, the word Conservatorium comes from the Italian word for an orphanage! Apparently the conservatorium movement came out of the music education delivered at orphanages in the mid-1700s!  However, we’re less about orphans and more about teaching music and giving people in the Coffs Coast region the chance to see beautiful music performed locally. More about the Coffs Harbour Conservatorium >

How well do I need to be able to play an instrument or sing before I can have lessons at the Con?

Don’t worry – the point of having music lessons is to be able to develop your musical skills, so it doesn’t matter whether you’re a complete beginner or an accomplished musician, we have music lessons for all levels of ability and experience.

Isn’t the Conservatorium all about Classical music?

No, absolutely not!  Here at the Con we love jazz, folk, blues, soul, R&B, rock’n’roll, hip hop and a whole heap of other genres just as much as we love classical music!
It’s a common misunderstanding to think that conservatoriums only teach and play classical music, but we’re much broader than that. We’re also led by what YOU want to play or sing. If that’s classical music, great, and we will be delighted if you want to learn contemporary music too.

What are the accessibility options for attendance at the Con?

The Conservatorium encourages all enquiries for learning regardless of any impairment. For easy access there is a wheelchair and pram friendly ramp from the car park. Our new Performance Space is equipped with hearing augmentation. More about our venue >


Individual Lessons & Ensembles

Coffs Conservatorium Youth Orchestra - Play in an EnsembleHow long are lessons?

Lessons are 30, 45, or 60 minutes.  Younger students and beginners usually start with half an hour.

I don’t have my own instrument – can I still learn music at the Con?

Yes!  We have a range of instruments available for hire – apart from pianos, which are too big! Contact us for more information.

Are lessons open to everyone?

It doesn’t matter what your level of musical experience or ability is, you are welcome to learn at the Con!  We cater for all ages and all abilities and we pride ourselves on matching students to instruments they will love and tutors with whom they will enjoy learning.

What’s the difference between lessons and ensembles?

It’s the difference between “take” and “make”!  Individual lessons give students the chance to work on technique and ‘take’ learning from their tutor.  Ensembles enable students to start ‘making’ music with each other, once they have reached a certain level of proficiency.

Can all students join the ensembles?

Playing music with others is a lot of fun, and we encourage students to think about joining an ensemble.  Different ensembles will be appropriate for different students, depending on their proficiency and enthusiasm!  Some of our ensembles have a limited number of places, but we try to accommodate as many students as possible.  Entry into The Academy and Contemporary Academy are by audition. All other ensembles encourage new members and new support.

How long are ensemble sessions?

Ensemble rehearsals vary from 30 – 90 minutes.

Do I need to have individual lessons at the Con to be in a Con ensemble?

The Academy takes gifted musicians from all over the Coffs region who have reached the equivalent of Grade 6 or above, by audition only, regardless of whether they have lessons at the Con.  Other ensembles are for current students.

Do the ensembles perform?

Yes, they do!  We have a varied schedule of performances and concerts throughout the year, and our ensembles are often invited to perform at external events such as the Bello Winter Music Festival.

What if I don’t want to learn classical music?

We love classical music.  And jazz. And hip-hop.  And chamber music, and pop music…  In fact, we love ALL kinds of music and our music tutors and students play all kinds of music!
You certainly don’t have to be a classical musician to study at the Con (although we love teaching classical techniques too), so speak to your tutor or contact our office for more information about how you can learn to play the kinds of music you love.

What if I want to change instruments?

It’s not uncommon to change your mind about what you want to learn.  We have amazing music tutors in lots of instruments and vocal styles, so get in touch to find out your options.

Please bear in mind that you may have to change the day or time of your lesson and possibly go on a waitlist if the requested teacher has a full teaching schedule when you enquire. We recommend contacting us as soon as possible to discuss how we can help.

Do I have to take music exams?

No, not at all!  Music exams are an excellent way of measuring your progress, and many students at the Con do take music exams, but they are not compulsory.  You can discuss with your tutor whether you are ready for exams, or whether taking exams is the right thing for you.

Do you teach during the school holidays?

No, the Conservatorium runs according to the NSW school term.  We do occasionally hold programs such as String Camps and workshops during the holidays, but our regular lessons and rehearsals are held during term-time.


Early Childhood Music

Music lessons for babies, toddlers and preschoolersWhat age group is the Early Childhood Music program designed for?

We cater for babies up to 5 years old, with different classes for different ages.
More about Early Childhood programs >

Is there room for my pram or stroller?

Yes, there is!  Classes are held in a carpeted space and there is plenty of room.  We also have baby change facilities in our toilets.

Does our family need to be musical for my baby/child to benefit from Early Childhood Music?

Music classes for children and parents

No, not at all!  Our Early Childhood Music programs are great for young children in all families.  It doesn’t matter if you think you’re musical or not, and it doesn’t matter if your child continues to learn music when they’re older: Early Childhood Music will give them skills that will help them all the way through school and beyond.

Do I have to stay with my child during the classes?

Yes, please.  Younger children are more confident and secure with their parents and carers nearby, and the whole Early Childhood Music program is built around you participating in activities with your child.  Plus, you’ll learn new skills and activities that you can take home and share with your child again and again!

Whether you know what instrument you’re interested in or you’d like more information, we can help you select the best music lessons for your needs – contact us on 02 6652 1592 or register your interest and we’ll get in touch with you!