Tag Archives: Top Hat Tutors

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.

High School Tutors Expand Scope, Services

Top Hat Tutors could rest on its reputation.

The after-school service — conceived of and created by Staples High student Charlie Jersey, then sold for $1 to Nick Massoud and, after him, Vig Namasavayam — is thriving. Nearly 40 Stapleites help a few dozen clients. The tutors are sharp, and relate well with their tutees.

But this year’s senior owners — president Jay Mudholkar and vice president Evan Feder, who purchased Top Hat for the now-traditional $1 from Vig — are doing more. They’re expanding their business: reaching out to students as young as elementary school; offering more areas (like computer science and music), and moving beyond Westport (to Fairfield, Norwalk, even Greenwich).

Jay and Evan — friends since 6th grade, who spent most of the summer fine-tuning Top Hat — point with pride to a 4th grader who loves sports. He’s now working with a tutor who shares that interest — and is a great role model, for both books and balls.

“It’s not only about getting an A on a test,” Jay says. “We also want younger kids to connect with older ones.”

Eric Feder and Jay Mudholkar take a break from organizing tutors.

Evan Feder and Jay Mudholkar take a break from organizing tutors.

Two elementary school brothers love chess. Top Hat found a chess-playing tutor — and another excellent role model.

“Anything we do at Staples, we can provide a tutor for,” Evan says.

Not everyone can be a Top Hat tutor. Sixty students applied for positions this summer. Only 38 were chosen.

Some clients are tutored weekly. Others call for one session — when, for example, there’s a big test ahead.

Tophat Tutors logoWhatever they need, Top Hat can help — with a special Staples touch.

“We want everyone to feel comfortable,” Jay says. “We don’t want a stressful environment. We think we’re pretty chill.”

Though Top Hat is headed in new directions, one thing has not changed. The standard rate of $40 is the same as when Charlie began several years ago.

And when Jay and Evan sell their expanded company next spring, the price will once again be just $1.

(For more information, click on www.tophattutors.com, or email tophattutors@gmail.com)