By TANIA KARAS
Not bad: Private Lessons
Want to tickle the ivories on something other than your office keyboard? Private music lessons start at around $35 a session, though top teachers can bill up to $150 an hour. While a reference check is a must, experts say, choosing an instructor who's accredited by the Music Teachers National Association is a good start. The equipment matters too: New York's Third Street Music School Settlement suggests that before dropping, say, $1,400 on a double French horn, customers try out several.
Getting Fancy Now: Professional Courses
If one-on-one music instruction isn't for you, several prestigious conservatories offer classes to the public with the same professors who teach their competitive degree programs. Berklee College of Music in Boston has online, performance-based courses in guitar, keyboard and drums starting at $1,200 for 12 weeks. Or for those who prefer the baton, Juilliard offers a class in orchestral conducting for $800.
Life-Changing: Music Vacation
For a more laid-back approach, a musical vacation may be more in key. The Alpine Chamber Music Festival in Liesing, Austria, accepts amateurs and pros alike for 12 days of rehearsals, private coaching and concerts. It's $1,800 to attend, though lodging and first-class airfare can tack on $20,000 more. Participants must audition to attend. But even rank beginners can audit the program -- which includes extracurricular perks like wine tasting and hikes into the Austrian Alps.