Stanford’s music department will no longer charge fees to students enrolled in group music lessons, according to an email sent by department chair Jaroslaw Kapuscinski on March 28.
The decision, which will increase accessibility to group music lessons, is a result of collaboration between the Humanities & Sciences Deans’ Office, the Office of Development and Provost Persis Drell.
In a written statement to The Daily, Kapuscinski explained that the main lesson he takes away from the department’s initiative is that “working closely with different parts of the University can be extremely productive.” He added that by “sharing with each other specific opportunities and challenges, we can collaborate to make our ideals a reality.”
Prior to this decision, all introductory group music lessons required an enrollment fee of $250, which included student access to practice rooms. The fee, which students were required to pay in order to enroll, did not take into account whether beginners would enjoy the course and remain enrolled for the duration of the quarter.
In a statement explaining the old enrollment policy, the Student Services Center wrote that if students did decide to drop the course after the University’s add/drop deadline date, the student would not be permitted to receive an enrollment fee refund.
The new move by the music department eliminates financial constraints and will allow all students to explore their artistic interests.
“We believe strongly that there should be no additional barriers to music,” Kapuscinski wrote. “What was particularly disheartening is that because music classes are introductory in nature, those fees were disproportionately hurting FLI (first generation and/or low-income) students for whom the university was the first opportunity to access music education.”
The course fee initially deterred Patrick Jovel ’25 from exploring his interest in music at the University.
“I don’t have any prior music experience, so I thought it was really cool that they implemented this policy because it made the class a lot more accessible to me,” Jovel said. “Especially since I am a beginner, I am not sure if I want to [pursue] the class or not, so the waiver lets me try the class out without having to pay $250.”
Abigail Maldonado ’25, a student taking an introductory piano class, described the fee waiver as “amazing news.” She said that she will no longer have to fight the fee or ask for a waiver in conversations with professors and the financial aid office, as she previously planned.
“As a FLI student, I knew I would not be able to pay the fee for any Stanford music classes. I love music and it is my aspiration to be proficient in piano … but the fee was the only thing discouraging me,” Maldonado said.
Eric Liu ’25, who is also enrolled in introductory piano class and has previous music experience, wrote in a statement to The Daily that the fee waiver no longer makes them feel like they are paying “more than what [they] already [pay] for tuition to learn something that should be provided by Stanford.”
The fee waiver has also permitted students from various academic interests to explore music.
“I was thrilled when I found out there was no course fee this quarter because in the past I felt guilty spending that extra money on a class I don’t need for my degree,” Julianne Igbokwe M.S. ’22 wrote in a statement to The Daily.
Igbokwe added that she felt hesitant about having to pay for a music class since she could theoretically self-learn from YouTube. “But in reality, being in this class provides structure and the ability to ask questions which is much more conducive to learning for me,” Igbokwe wrote.
Jovel emphasized that the Department of Music’s decision should serve as an example of how the Stanford can foster a more equitable education for all students. “This opens opportunities for really talented people who don’t have the financial support to simply enroll in these courses,” Jovel said.