Tip O’ The Top Hat For Music

Westport schools do a great job of introducing young students to music.

Some jump all in, eager to become the next Joshua Bell, Yo-Yo Ma or Eric Clapton.

Others are somewhat interested, and want to learn more. But they — or, more accurately, their parents — are not yet ready to shell out the going rate for private lessons.

Now that niche is filled.

Top Hat Tutors is a service owned, operated and run by Staples High School students, for youngsters ages 5 to 18. The 1-to-1, peer-to-peer model has proven successful and popular.

It’s also less expensive than the professional, adult, we-have-to-make-a-living tutoring that’s so prevalent throughout town.

Nick Denton Cheng is a senior cellist at Staples. He’s also Top Hat’s music director. That’s their newest offering — their first foray into a non-science/math/ English/social studies/world languages subject.

Nick Denton Cheng

“It’s an untapped market,” Nick says. “Lessons are very expensive. This is a great great alternative.”

It’s an untapped market for tutors as well as tutees. Nick had more applicants than he could use. He’s selected 18 Staples musicians so far. Many already taught informally. Some are section leaders in orchestra or band; helping younger musicians is part of that gig.

“We all love music,” he notes.

Top Hat’s new program is aimed at youngsters ages 5 to 12 or so, who are just starting to develop their skills.

The most popular instruments so far are violin, guitar and piano. But Top Hat is already tutoring a couple of budding bass players and oboists. They’ll accommodate any instrument.

The cost is $40 an hour. Click here — then toot with your tutor away.

7 responses to “Tip O’ The Top Hat For Music

  1. Bill Boyd... Staples 66

    Perhaps I’m out of the loop but $40/ hour still sounds very expensive for a student aged tutor….especially in a time when many adults are struggling to find work that pays even $12 an hour.

  2. Dan, is there a way for westport residents to support this, are they a 501c3 through the schools? Ann >

  3. Perhaps these talented tutors could donate some of their time to the KEYS organization by giving music lessons to our underserved neighbors in Bridgeport.

    • Yes! If you look on facebook, I think Top Hat is actually donating to a charity this holiday season… Not specifically music, but it’s good to see kid’s give back

  4. Rosemary Bentley Milligan

    Bill – I agree with you but let’s face it – this is Westport.

  5. Jeff Gershowitz

    Way to go Nick! This is a great way for our talented Staples musicians to pass their love of music and their skills to the next group of Staples students.