The Michael P. Hammond Preparatory Program is a small and selective music program, serving Houston and surrounding neighborhoods. Our private lesson area offers weekly not-for-credit one-on-one individual lessons to the admitted students in piano, violin, viola, and cello. Our Preparatory Program Instructors are primarily locally contracted professionals and selected current Shepherd School of Music graduate students. We supplement the private lesson experience with other musical opportunities such as group music theory and chamber/small ensemble music. While the minimum age requirement for private lessons is age six, the program is primarily aimed to serve advanced middle school and high school students. Our environment is small yet personalized, catering to exceptionally gifted students and educating them in the art of traditional classical music performance. Students in the program have access to the Shepherd School of Music’s top-notch concert halls and many inspiring musical activities. All instruction takes place exclusively at the Shepherd School of Music building, Alice Pratt Brown Hall, on Rice University campus. Should it be necessary for the Prep Program to operate virtually, the policies and procedures remain applicable in the online environment.
Admission and Calendar
The Preparatory Program calendar is divided into three semesters, typically following the academic calendar of Rice University. Fall semester typically occurs from August through mid-December before winter break when the university facility is closed. Spring semester typically occurs from early to mid-January through the end of April or early May. Summer semesters are from May through mid-August ending when fall semester begins. Preparatory Program students are expected to register for at least 13 lessons per fall and spring semesters, although some teachers may require more. Those requirements are communicated at the beginning of the academic year and again at the beginning of each semester when tuition is due. Summer semester enrollment is required for a few studios while not required for all. Summer lesson requirements are usually 6-8 lessons during the summer although a teacher can require more.
The Preparatory Program registration deadline for returning students is typically August 10th for fall, December 1st for spring semester, and May 1st for summer.
Because the program is currently full, we do not schedule regular auditions. Auditions are held only when we have openings. To be considered for auditions, students will need to complete an Interest Form online. When we have openings, we look through our Interest Forms to search for candidates to call for auditions.
New and Returning Students
Students new to the program must have already completed an Interest Form online, been invited and passed an audition to be accepted into a specific studio before they can register. Upon completing the audition, and if the instructor agrees to accept the student into his/her studio, the instructor will inform the Preparatory Program Administrator, who then will issue an invoice and all relevant paperwork to the family for registration. Adult students are no longer admitted to the program.
Invoices and required paperwork for registration are sent via email, to each student/family 3-4 weeks prior to each registration deadline by the Preparatory Program Administrator. It is the family's responsibility to check his/her email to print out and return the paperwork to the preparatory office along with the tuition payment by the deadline specified on the invoice. Failure to do so may cause the student to lose their place in the program.
Registration must be completed before the first lesson and before teaching space can be scheduled. Attending lessons or informing Instructors of the intent to register does not constitute registering. After the registration deadline date, a late fee of $50 will be charged and the student will be in danger of losing their place in the program.
Please supply the office with full, complete, accurate, and legible information as requested on the invoice. The office will communicate mostly via email. It is each family’s responsibility to give the office a working email that is regularly monitored where they prefer the information to be sent. Failure to do so could result in errors in registration and the student not being registered properly. Places in the program will not be reserved for students who fail to adhere to this registration policy.
New invoices are sent for each semester. Please do not use an out of date invoice. Out of date invoices will not be accepted.
Students and their parents are responsible for adhering to the registration deadlines and policies as stated on the academic calendar and in their paperwork. Misinformation or failure to read or follow these guidelines does not exempt students from the registration policies and deadlines.
Receipt and ID cards
All students will receive a receipt and an ID card after registration has been received and processed in the office. These items will be sent by regular mail. The ID card should be kept with the student when he or she comes to the building for private lessons to verify that the student is a preparatory student and has permission to enter the building for the registered Prep activities. Building monitors and Rice personnel have the authority to ask for ID at any time. Students not prepared to present ID when asked will be asked to leave the building. There is a $10 fee to replace lost ID cards.
During the weekly lessons that are taught at the Shepherd School of Music, whenever possible, the Preparatory Program student must display his/her valid Prep ID together with his/her Preparatory Program Instructor’s valid IDs. The Shepherd School of Music hall monitors and Rice personnel have the authority to remove unauthorized private teaching without proper displays of IDs from our practice rooms. The Shepherd School and Rice personnel also have authority to stop any minor students wandering around our facility and request to see his/her Prep Program ID. Students unable to produce proper ID to show they are allowed on premises will be removed from our facility. Misuse and misrepresentation of the program ID will result in dismissal of membership in the Preparatory Program with no refunds.
Students registered only for group activities in the program, such as Chamber Music and Music Theory classes, and not taking private instrumental lessons through the program are not eligible to receive an ID card. These students are only permitted to come to campus during public performances or during their group classes, both require their parent or legal guardian to accompany them in the building and can only be released to the classroom instructors during scheduled group classes. IDs will also not be issued when the program is held virtually as campus visits will be prohibited for program participants when the program is held online.
Tuition, Fees and Financial Aid
Tuition and fees
Students must pay tuition in full in advance for the semester. A registration fee of $25 is charged for each semester of registration. Families with more than one child in the program are charged only one registration fee per semester. A $50 late registration fee will be charged for each students registering after the registration date listed on the registration form. Tuition and fees are nonrefundable.
A personal check or a cashier’s check are the only methods of payment accepted. Checks must be made out to RICE UNIVERSITY. Payments and accompanying forms should be mailed to:
Michael P. Hammond Preparatory Program
The Shepherd School of Music - MS 532
P.O. Box 1892 Houston, TX 77251-1892
Do not send cash in the mail.
Checks for an incorrect amount (not the full payment) will be returned to the sender, and the student will not be registered until the correct amount has been received. Checks received after the deadline will be charged a $50 late fee. Students registering late may lose their place in the preparatory program, and will have to reapply in a subsequent semester, provided there is vacancy. Families issuing nonnegotiable checks, for whatever reason, will be assessed a $50 fine. The school reserves the right to refuse personal checks from families who have previously paid with nonnegotiable items.
Through the generosity of the Olshan Foundation, limited funds are available as financial aid. Financial aid is need-based and must be accompanied by recommendations from the student’s teacher and the Preparatory Program Administrator. Each applicant for financial aid will be expected to supply a copy of the families’ most recent tax return. Application forms may be requested by contacting the Preparatory Program Administrator in August every year. Financial aid is awarded once a year, typically at the beginning of the fall semester.
Supervision of Children
The safety of children attending the Michael P. Hammond Preparatory Program is important to all of us. However, our facility is designed for and used primarily by adult students, rather than children. Parents and legal guardians must be respectful of our adult learning environment when bringing their children to campus as well as be alert and responsible for the safety of their minors.
- Prep students will be divided into those requiring parent attendance during lessons, or those authorized without parent presence during lessons. The person to make this determination is the private lesson teacher.
- All parents are required to be present during Prep lessons UNLESS they have discussed this with the teacher and agreed mutually to allow the teacher and student to work one-on-one during private lessons.
- The parents of those who make such agreement must sign a release and consent form every semester during registration before lessons can begin.
- The parents are advised to stay in the building or outside of the classroom of instruction, especially for those under age 16 who are driven to lessons.
- If parents must leave during lessons, parents are required to be present dropping off and picking up before and after each lesson. If parents are not present, we will issue a warning. If parents continue to be negligent in picking up the student in a timely manner despite the warning, the student will be dismissed from the program and no refunds will be issued.
- Teachers shall not allow any Prep students during lessons to wander the hallway unsupervised. Teachers also shall not take students to the restroom or secluded areas by himself or herself. Parents are advised to bring the student to the restroom before and/or after lessons. If a restroom break is needed for a student during a lesson, his/her parent must be available as minor students can only be released back to their parents or legal guardian for these purposes. Instruction time lost during restroom breaks will not be made up.
- If parent presence is required at lessons, the parent must remain in the room and participate fully. These parents are advised to turn off laptop, cellphone, and limit all electronic usage. Parents will be strongly discouraged from bringing their other children, especially younger siblings who can be disruptive during lessons. If the parent must step out of the room during lessons, teachers are instructed to stop lessons and leave the door of the classroom open until the parent returns. Any of the missed time when the parent steps away will not be made up.
Parents are strongly discouraged from bringing siblings and other minor children to lessons. If parents must bring other minors, the parents are responsible for the supervision of these children. Rice University bears no responsibility for minors not registered with the program.
Students should be on time for lessons. Please do not expect the teacher to extend the lesson time to make up for student tardiness. In most cases, other prep students or activities are scheduled for the next hour.
Teachers have been instructed to wait only 15 minutes for a student to arrive before proceeding to the next scheduled activity. If the student does not arrive within this time period, the lesson is forfeited.
Teachers are also expected to be on time for lessons. If the teacher is late, the time will be made up in a future lesson after reporting the time to the administrator for future booking. Because our teaching space will be scheduled according to the length of the lesson each student is registered for, teachers must end lessons on time in order for the next student to use the space and not cause delays. If you are experiencing teacher tardiness, please alert the administrator immediately.
Attendance and make-up lessons
Regular attendance is expected. Make-up lessons are not guaranteed if the student is absent. In case of teacher absence, the teacher is required to provide make-ups.
Beginning fall 2017, the Preparatory Program instructors are required to submit their teaching schedules weekly - every Wednesday for the following Saturday through Friday. Their teaching space in the Shepherd School of Music building cannot be guaranteed until their teaching schedule is confirmed. As a result, if a student needs to miss a lesson due to vacation, conflicting events, and any non-emergency activities that are pre-planned, students and parents are required to notify the teacher and Preparatory Program Administrator in writing no later than the Tuesday the week before. Otherwise, on Wednesday, the lesson and space are scheduled, and the administration is notified of the space usage. If parents fail to notify timely and the lesson does not occur, no refunds can be issued. The lesson will be charged to pay for the teacher’s time and use of teaching space on campus. The lesson will be considered forfeited.
Students are eligible for make-up lessons in the case of emergencies, which are defined as: 1) last-minute illness; 2) death in the family; 3) emergencies and university closure when lessons cannot occur or need to be interrupted for safety. In those emergencies, the teachers are expected to make up those lessons in the same semester without extra charge, and the Preparatory Program Administrator will coordinate the space for future make up lessons during the same semester. In cases where the emergency is attributable to the student, students are allowed up to two such emergency make up lessons per semester. Students who do not qualify for the emergency make-up, have had more than two missed lessons in the semester, or have not cancelled lessons on time will have their lessons forfeited.
All lessons and make-up lessons must take place in the Shepherd School of Music building. Lessons taught outside of our school facility are not Prep lessons, and the instructor will not be paid out of the Prep funds you provided at the beginning of the semester. If you choose to go to another location to have lessons with your teacher, you must pay your teacher directly for their services, and Rice University is not responsible for guiding those lessons. The teacher is still held accountable to give the number of lessons for which you registered, which all must be taught on premises in the Shepherd School of Music building before the said semester completes. The only exception is online lessons during pandemic when virtual lessons through the Prep Program are authorized.
Use of Facility
Preparatory Program students are not permitted usage of the practice rooms or all facilities other than at registered lessons at the pre-assigned space. Rice University also does not allow current and former Rice students to use the Shepherd School of Music for private teaching except those registered through the Preparatory Program. The Preparatory Program instructors are required to report their teaching schedule each week in advance to secure teaching space. While we will plan to have the same space for your teacher to teach, it cannot be guaranteed until the week before when all conditions are met.
Prep students that come to Rice outside of their Preparatory Program event times (lesson times, recital performance times, Prep event rehearsal times) are not the responsibility of Rice University.
Code of Conduct
The student must demonstrate through attitude and performance, both a willingness to work hard and a determination to achieve his/her full potential. Students who fail to display such attitude or exhibit poor behavior towards either his/her teacher, fellow students, or administrators, either during lessons, classes, coaching sessions, or while inside or around the building, can be expelled without further notice. Parents and chaperones are expected to set examples of good behavior to their children and follow our policies and procedures while on campus. Parents with poor attitude and behavior towards teachers, other students, administrators, or any members of the Rice community, can cause their child and family to lose membership in our program without further notice or refunds.
Preparatory Program Recitals
Preparatory Program offers monthly recitals from September through the end of April. Recital nominations can only come from the student’s teacher, after the student has been properly prepared. Approximately two weeks before each recital, the Preparatory Program Office will ask each teacher to submit nominations for their students to perform. Parents cannot contact the office directly to nominate their child for Prep recital performance. Information regarding performance orders and times will be released from the office directly to the teacher who may wish to give additional instructions for their students. All soloists performing at the recital must have their music memorized.
Preparatory Program selects a staff accompanist every year. The Staff Accompanist provides one rehearsal, attends one lesson with the student, and performs on the day of the Prep Recital free of charge. It is the responsibility of the parents and teachers to contact the staff accompanist to give him/her the music at least two weeks ahead of time and arrange for the staff accompanist to attend lessons so the teacher can critique and prepare for the performance experience. Students are not allowed to perform at a Prep Recital if they have not rehearsed with the accompanist.
Staff accompanist can refuse to accompany if music is not delivered on time. In the event the parent would like to use a different accompanist, the parent will be responsible for all fees incurred with using a non-Prep assigned accompanist. Preparatory Program does not provide a list of referrals for accompanists outside the one that’s assigned to us by the Shepherd School of Music.
Preparatory Program recitals are held in Duncan Recital Hall at the Alice Pratt Brown Hall where the Shepherd School of Music is located. Prep recitals are usually on a Saturday. The recital usually begins at 1:30pm although times can vary. Each recital typically contains 70-80 minutes of music for piano, violin, viola, or cello from different studios. The recital may be longer or shorter in duration.
Prep recitals are public events and no tickets are required. Every attempt is made to make the recital experience professional, especially for the performers who have worked to prepare and earned the opportunity to be on stage. Concert etiquette is posted at every recital and needs to be followed. Audience members behaving inappropriately or disruptively will be asked to leave the recital immediately.
Students who have been in the program for a full school year of two semesters are eligible to play a jury. Some exceptions to this may be made for students who are studying with a Shepherd School Faculty member, or have performed in master classes, or participated in multiple recitals or Honor’s Recitals, or students who will not be returning the following Fall. Juries are usually held in April, although any of the Duncan recital performances can be used as juries. The jury should be coordinated through your private lesson teachers.
Jury results are mailed with one copy to the teacher and one copy to the student. The original is kept on file in the student’s file in the Preparatory Program Office. Students receive comments as well as a grade for the jury. The Preparatory Program Administrator usually serves as a juror. Other jurors can include your own private lesson teacher and other teachers in the Preparatory Program. Progress from year to year is expected during the jury. Students who do not show progress in their jury can be released from the program and may not be eligible to register in the program in the future.
The Preparatory Program does not collect photos or media releases from parents unless we have a specific project that requires the use of photo or media. When these projects occur, only authorized personnel can take official photos of the students and only after parents have signed a consent. This rule applies to all Preparatory Program official photos and media such as for the website or program publications.
Photos taken by parents or guests during public events such as Preparatory Program recitals, or in-class activities, or any recorded media, are not Preparatory Program records. We ask parents and families to communicate to each other and be sensitive to exposure to other’s children and exercise good judgment when posting in social media. Please remember that not all families in the program feel equally comfortable about the level of exposure of their minor children.
Refunds, Withdrawal and Changing Teachers
Prep Program tuition and fees are not refundable.
If a student plans to discontinue lessons, he/she must give notice to the teacher at least one month before the end of the current semester. Because each teacher’s enrollment is limited, and teachers must refuse other students when their studios are full, students are expected to complete the semester with that teacher. Both the teacher and the student must agree upon any exceptions to this. The remaining tuition and fees are not refundable.
If the teacher is unable to complete the semester, other arrangements will be made with a substitute teacher.
The only appropriate time to make a change in teachers or in the length of lessons is at the time of registration. Teacher changes or changes in length of lesson must first be discussed with the teacher and the office. Changes will not be honored without pre-approval.
If a student becomes dissatisfied with a teacher, and wants to make a change, he must wait for the end of the semester to do so. Should the student fail to complete the semester with the original teacher, no refunds will be given.
Parking at Alice Pratt Brown Hall
All visitors, faculty, staff, and students pay for parking on campus. There are machines at all entrances to the parking, which ask a driver to insert a credit card (American Express, Discover, Master Card, or VISA). This opens the gate. Upon leaving, the visitor inserts the same credit card, and the gate will open again. The computer calculates the time, and the charge is billed to the owner of the card. We anticipate that the current parking lot for Alice Pratt Brown Hall will close on August 1, 2017 to prepare a construction site for a new music and opera building. West Lot 2 has been designated as the parking lot for all Alice Pratt Brown Hall/Shepherd School of Music events beginning August 2017. The easiest way to access this lot is to enter campus from Entrance #18 off Rice Boulevard and then turn right at the parking gates to West Lot 2. For visitors with disabilities, accessible parking will be available at the south end of the lot. This will be closest to a temporary sidewalk that will service the west entrance to the Grand Foyer of the Shepherd School of Music. The first 14 minutes of parking at West Lot 2 is free, although you still must have a credit card to use it. Parking costs $1 for each additional 10 minutes after the initial 14 minutes. For more information, please visit our website on Parking.
While in the building and on campus, emergencies should be immediately reported to the Rice University Police Department (RUPD) by dialing 713-348-6000. RUPD is the first emergency contact. RUPD is on campus and will respond immediately.
Depending on the nature of the emergency, if evacuation to an open space is required, the teachers, students, and parents/legal guardian will head to either the open space on the other side of the James Turrell Skyspace next to the Business School, or at the soccer field adjacent to the Shepherd School of Music and the Recreation Center. If campus is closed for access during an emergency and parents and students are separated, the Rice University Institutional Crisis Management team will contact families with a reunification location.
RUPD and the Rice emergency response team will have access to the most recent student roster, classroom schedule, teacher information, and emergency contact information.
Pet and Animal Policy for Alice Pratt Brown Hall
Effective January 1, 2012, the Shepherd School of Music adopted a policy that does not allow the general public to bring pets into our building. Exceptions can be made for documented service animals that are working under the direct control of their owner/user. This policy applies to the courtyards of Alice Pratt Brown Hall (the Shepherd School of Music building), the lawn immediately surrounding the building and the James Turrell Skyspace. If a Preparatory Program family brings pets to the building, the student will be immediately dismissed from the program with no refunds. Please leave your pets at home.
Rice University has a university-wide non-smoking policy both indoors and outdoors. Smoking is limited to certain designated areas and the closest one to Alice Pratt Brown Hall is near the Baker Institute loading dock. The sidewalks near Alice Pratt Brown Hall, the courtyards, the parking lots in front of the school, and the loading dock are NOT designed smoking areas.
Music Theory (Group Classes)
The music theory courses at the Michael P. Hammond Preparatory Program are designed to support our private teaching curriculum and to enhance the student’s musical knowledge and enjoyment of music. Admission to the theory courses is by invitation of the Preparatory Program Administrator. Music theory courses are not available to students under the age of 10. All music theory courses are taught at the Shepherd School of Music building by the Shepherd School of Music graduate students. They are offered for fall and spring semesters only and are not offered in the summers and are all non-credit courses. Music theory courses are $150 per course per semester for Prep students taking private lessons in the program. Students not taking private lessons in the program may participate in music theory for $200 fee per course per semester. For questions regarding music theory courses, please contact Julia Jalbert.
Group music theory is not available when the Prep Program is delivered online. Group music theory will resume when group meeting is safe.
Chamber Music (Group Classes)
Participation in chamber music is open to students studying privately in the Michael P. Hammond Preparatory Program as well as other pre-college students in the Houston and surrounding community. Chamber music coaches are current graduate students at The Shepherd School of Music. Students taking private lessons in the Preparatory Program receive priority in chamber music group placement as well as free tuition for participation in the chamber music program. Students not taking private lessons in the Preparatory Program may participate in the chamber music program for $200 fee per semester. Placement in a chamber music group is contingent upon the need to formulate the ensembles.
The Prep Program will not offer chamber music when program is delivered virtually. Chamber Music opportunities exist only during in-person instruction when regular group rehearsals are safe.
Preparatory Program Contact and Office Hours
The Preparatory Program Administrator is Julia Jalbert, who is working remotely while The Shepherd School of Music and Rice University are closed to visitors. Please email her at email@example.com for any questions you may have.