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#1250800 - 08/17/09 01:23 PM Are you changing/updating your studio policy for fall?
Barb860 Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/11/09
Posts: 1644
Loc: northern California
I am tweaking with mine a little bit. I need to get some good wording in there to deal with makeup lessons. Still not exactly sure of how to handle it. Perhaps allow 2 makeups per quarter? Right now I have no limitation on the number of makeup lessons that can be requested. Sometimes we make them up, sometimes not, if a mutually agreeable time cannot be worked out.
Anybody changing policy wording for fall on any issues?
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#1250828 - 08/17/09 02:14 PM Re: Are you changing/updating your studio policy for fall? [Re: Barb860]
Ebony and Ivory Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/14/05
Posts: 1179
Loc: Minnesota
I'm not giving out updated policies, but I did change it for the 4 new students I recently (and any future students). It states a $15 late charge (previously it was $10), 48 hour cancellation notice will be rescheduled (was 24 hr), and no more than 2 rearranged lessons per semester (didn't have a limit before).

I probably should change it for everyone, but some of the "old folks" have been with me for so long, they're used to much, much laxer rules lol

So technically I have 3 categories of students, the ones with the new rules, the ones with the last 4 year rules and the ones that barely have any rules. It's kind of a mess, but I'm afraid I will lose the ones that are so relaxed, and I don't want to. I'd rather do it this way.
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#1250833 - 08/17/09 02:21 PM Re: Are you changing/updating your studio policy for fall? [Re: Barb860]
dumdumdiddle Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/16/06
Posts: 1250
Loc: California
My policy now states 'no makeup lessons', however... when I WAS doing makeups, my wording went something like this:

"Makeup lessons are available ONLY in cases of illness and if I am notified by 9:00am on the lesson day. Both conditions must be met before a makeup lesson will be given."

Sometimes I'd also tack on another sentence: "Makeup lessons are not given for sports events, out of town trips, doctor's appts, etc..." just in case my first sentence wasn't clear enough.
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#1250835 - 08/17/09 02:23 PM Re: Are you changing/updating your studio policy for fall? [Re: Ebony and Ivory]
dumdumdiddle Offline
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Registered: 09/16/06
Posts: 1250
Loc: California
Originally Posted By: Ebony and Ivory}
48 hour cancellation notice will be rescheduled (was 24 hr), and no more than 2 rearranged lessons per semester (didn't have a limit before).


I'm curious as to why you went from a 24-hr cancellation notice to a 48-hr one. I could see it the other way around....
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#1250836 - 08/17/09 02:26 PM Re: Are you changing/updating your studio policy for fall? [Re: Ebony and Ivory]
Kreisler Offline


Registered: 11/27/02
Posts: 13706
Loc: Iowa City, IA
I have a minimalist policy - no detailed rules or anything, just the basics. I changed the calendar and put this year's stuff on it, scheduled a few extra things, and will hand it out the first of September.

My make-up policy basically states that I will make up any lessons I miss. Lessons missed by students will be rescheduled if/when I'm available, but there are no guarantees. I also build 3 "extra" weeks into the schedule that I use for make-up lessons. Missed lessons that are not able to be rescheduled are not refunded.

I'm a firm believe that less is more. Parents that get argumentative or difficult are going to be that way no matter how much documentation you give them, so I prefer to keep the paper to a minimum and deal with those people face-to-face. I found the same to be true when I taught public school as well - the parents that get all upset about stuff tend to be the same ones who never read the stuff you send home, so why bother?
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#1250840 - 08/17/09 02:32 PM Re: Are you changing/updating your studio policy for fall? [Re: dumdumdiddle]
Ebony and Ivory Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/14/05
Posts: 1179
Loc: Minnesota
Originally Posted By: dumdumdiddle
I'm curious as to why you went from a 24-hr cancellation notice to a 48-hr one. I could see it the other way around....
Because it seems an awful lot of people think that 24 hour is equal to a day.

As in "if I call in the morning, I won't have to pay for that afternoon".

I would come home to a message that was left on the phone at 8am, and find out I didn't have a lesson in 10 minutes. They would ask for and expect make-ups. "But you had a whole day's notice!" Urgh!
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#1250844 - 08/17/09 02:45 PM Re: Are you changing/updating your studio policy for fall? [Re: Ebony and Ivory]
Minniemay Offline
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Registered: 06/07/09
Posts: 1702
Loc: CA
I've changed to a 12-month calendar from a 9-month/6 summer lessons policy. I now offer 40 lessons per year. I charge annual tuition and offer 3 payments plans from which they can choose: in full, by semester, or 12 equal payments. This gets rid of the make-up idea completely. If they miss a lesson, so what? There are more than enough weeks to get 40 lessons. I mark out specific vacation days on a calendar I hand out in the fall.

If they don't use all 40, there is no refund. If they go over the 40, I bill the overage.
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#1251099 - 08/17/09 11:23 PM Re: Are you changing/updating your studio policy for fall? [Re: Minniemay]
beccaY Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/06/09
Posts: 23
I changed my policy just a little. I added a $5 late fee foe every week payment is late. I also raised my rates. I think policy tweaking is a good idea, it keeps the returning parents and students up on things.

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#1251118 - 08/18/09 12:13 AM Re: Are you changing/updating your studio policy for fall? [Re: beccaY]
AZNpiano Online   sleepy
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/07/07
Posts: 5278
Loc: Orange County, CA
I thought about updating my policy, but this might not be the best time to do it. Some families are barely hanging on financially. I may or may not increase my fees.
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#1251121 - 08/18/09 12:40 AM Re: Are you changing/updating your studio policy for fall? [Re: AZNpiano]
eweiss Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/28/09
Posts: 2393
Loc: Beautiful San Diego, CA
No.
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#1251239 - 08/18/09 09:45 AM Re: Are you changing/updating your studio policy for fall? [Re: eweiss]
Mrs.A Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/15/09
Posts: 155
Not this year but I do send my policy out this time of the year as a refresher to students.
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#1251247 - 08/18/09 09:56 AM Re: Are you changing/updating your studio policy for fall? [Re: Barb860]
John v.d.Brook Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7200
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
Originally Posted By: Barb860
I am tweaking with mine a little bit. I need to get some good wording in there to deal with makeup lessons. Still not exactly sure of how to handle it. Perhaps allow 2 makeups per quarter? Right now I have no limitation on the number of makeup lessons that can be requested. Sometimes we make them up, sometimes not, if a mutually agreeable time cannot be worked out.
Anybody changing policy wording for fall on any issues?


Barb, one of many reasons teachers are against makeup lessons is that you're selling your time and talents. You've already given them on lesson time and with a makeup, you're giving them a second lesson time, but for free.

Let's say, by way of example, that you give 12 lessons per quarter, and one makeup lesson. Divide the tuition by 13, and that's what you're really charging per lesson. To be fair to the other students, you should really offer them the opportunity to take that 13th lesson as well!

Setting a fee per month/quarter or what ever, but setting your fee to encompass the one or two makeups will make you look good in parents eyes, while not forcing you to give away your services.

I take the other approach - I tell parents that the tuition I charge anticipates their student will miss 3 lessons during the year, so if they attend all lessons, they've actually received a bonus.

Parents respond well to this, too.
_________________________
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#1251258 - 08/18/09 10:16 AM Re: Are you changing/updating your studio policy for fall? [Re: Mrs.A]
Morodiene Offline
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Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 10766
Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
I did update my policy. I tend to do it every year, tweaking it a bit. My policy is now one page, front to back. It states my Payment Policy, Make-Up Policy, and Cancellation Policy.

I didn't really make huge changes, but added a statement at the beginning that tuition is paying for a time slot, and if a student does not come at their designated time, I was still prepared to teach that lesson. I only allow one make-up lesson per semester, on designated make-up days (which are Monday and Tuesday the week of Thanksgiving, and Monday and Tuesday the week on Christmas, when I don't teach regular lessons. Make ups for the Spring semester are done the first week in June).

If a student needs to reschedule a lesson and doesn't want to use up their one make-up or have already used it, they can swap lessons with another student. This requires at least 48 hours' notice to the student they are swapping with and 24 hours' notice to me. This helps to cut down on a lot of make-ups that cut into my personal time.

I also added a $15 late fee if payments aren't received by the 10th of the month, and that I won't continue lessons until the balance is paid. Hopefully this will help reduce my losses this year. I had 2 students who didn't pay and that I'll be sending to a debt collector most likely this week. That hasn't happened in quite a while, so I felt it was necessary for stronger wording.

I also changed it to include "Students who are no-shows for 2 consecutive lessons will be removed from the schedule. Students who do not show for 3 lessons overall in a semester will be removed from the schedule on the 3rd no-show." I have found a direct correlation between the students from whom I have not gotten paid and inconsistency in showing up for regularly scheduled lessons, so I'm hoping to reduce the chances of that as well.

It's interesting to note that the majority of my students do not need to have such a detailed policy. It is only for those few families that will try to take advantage that I need this. Although, I think having such a detailed policy lets them all know that this is a business and not something on the side and helps them to take it more seriously.


Edited by Morodiene (08/18/09 10:18 AM)
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#1251310 - 08/18/09 11:46 AM Re: Are you changing/updating your studio policy for fall? [Re: Morodiene]
AZNpiano Online   sleepy
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/07/07
Posts: 5278
Loc: Orange County, CA
Originally Posted By: Morodiene
It's interesting to note that the majority of my students do not need to have such a detailed policy. It is only for those few families that will try to take advantage that I need this.


Very true!

For that same reason, though, I almost want to trim down my policy for the sake of the "majority." As it stands, it's one full page. I'm tempted to expand and write those 4-page policies for these problematic families.
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#1251317 - 08/18/09 12:01 PM Re: Are you changing/updating your studio policy for fall? [Re: AZNpiano]
Morodiene Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 10766
Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
Originally Posted By: AZNpiano


Very true!

For that same reason, though, I almost want to trim down my policy for the sake of the "majority." As it stands, it's one full page. I'm tempted to expand and write those 4-page policies for these problematic families.


I know! I find it very hard to keep it down to a minimum, while protecting myself against those for whom all the details are needed. So it's OK if not everyone reads it, because for most of them it doens't even apply, except for the make-up lesson part. I find that the majority of students will reschedule lessons quite frequently if they know they can. That puts lessons at the bottom-rung of priorities behind sports, school events, vacations, entertaining out-of-town guests, and my personal favorite, SHOPPING. I know for a fact that there are no make-ups for missing sports practices and games, and if I am lenient on my make-ups, then I will always lose when it comes to a conflict with sports.
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#1251369 - 08/18/09 01:38 PM Re: Are you changing/updating your studio policy for fall? [Re: John v.d.Brook]
Barb860 Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/11/09
Posts: 1644
Loc: northern California
Originally Posted By: John v.d.Brook
Originally Posted By: Barb860
I am tweaking with mine a little bit. I need to get some good wording in there to deal with makeup lessons. Still not exactly sure of how to handle it. Perhaps allow 2 makeups per quarter? Right now I have no limitation on the number of makeup lessons that can be requested. Sometimes we make them up, sometimes not, if a mutually agreeable time cannot be worked out.
Anybody changing policy wording for fall on any issues?


Barb, one of many reasons teachers are against makeup lessons is that you're selling your time and talents. You've already given them on lesson time and with a makeup, you're giving them a second lesson time, but for free.

Let's say, by way of example, that you give 12 lessons per quarter, and one makeup lesson. Divide the tuition by 13, and that's what you're really charging per lesson. To be fair to the other students, you should really offer them the opportunity to take that 13th lesson as well!

Setting a fee per month/quarter or what ever, but setting your fee to encompass the one or two makeups will make you look good in parents eyes, while not forcing you to give away your services.

I take the other approach - I tell parents that the tuition I charge anticipates their student will miss 3 lessons during the year, so if they attend all lessons, they've actually received a bonus.

Parents respond well to this, too.



This makes a lot of sense, John. Sounds like an ideal policy to me.
My issue is that I am expanding my studio, quite suddenly actually. I used to have much more flexibility with my teaching schedule, having just 12 students for the past several years.
Then last year, I was down to 10 due to the economy. People here were cutting out music lessons. Fast forward to today: my son is off to college next month and I am finding myself with more time on my hands, plus the need to expand my business for the financial reasons.
It's a case of "be careful what you wish for, you may just get it". I am getting calls like crazy now for lessons and have a roster going forward of 20 students. I am very grateful for this, don't get me wrong! But the issue is: I was quite flexible before with the makeup lessons. I can still offer them now with a roster of 20, but the flexibility is not there like it was. What I have decided to do is this: offer makeup lessons on Fridays and Saturdays and put that in my studio policy, keeping it to one page as many of you have suggested and I agree with that.
Perhaps another thread could be started: "expanding your studio and the side effects of doing so"
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#1251415 - 08/18/09 03:09 PM Re: Are you changing/updating your studio policy for fall? [Re: Barb860]
Diane... Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/16/06
Posts: 3343
Loc: Western Canada
Does anybody really pay attention to our policy sheet anyway!?

I've discovered that even with a policy sheet, situations come up that I have to deal with directly, and to just pull out the policy sheet and say "There", is really rather childish!

So yes, I send out the policy sheet so my parent know that I'm a serious about teaching.

So realizing that some parents are just going to push the envelope and make some days unpleasant, I have the policy sheet, yes, but every situation is going to be different.

Some parents could walk all over me, but they have such a fun way about them, I won't care, while other will drive me crazy with other things I haven't thought about.

Let the games begin! smile
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#1251469 - 08/18/09 04:09 PM Re: Are you changing/updating your studio policy for fall? [Re: Diane...]
dumdumdiddle Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/16/06
Posts: 1250
Loc: California
I like short, simple, and to-the-point, which is why I started a 'no makeup' policy. I don't have to write a paragraph outlining the circumstances when a makeup would or would not be given and then have to decide which students should get one and which should not. Parents know when they sign up that there are no makeups.

I used to think differently, back when I was younger, hadn't taught much, had only a handful of students, and could easily fit a makeup into my schedule. Now, however, I'm not willing to give up my 'family time' or 'down time'.
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#1251489 - 08/18/09 04:44 PM Re: Are you changing/updating your studio policy for fall? [Re: John v.d.Brook]
saerra Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/28/07
Posts: 842
Loc: Atlanta, GA
Originally Posted By: John v.d.Brook
Setting a fee per month/quarter or what ever, but setting your fee to encompass the one or two makeups will make you look good in parents eyes, while not forcing you to give away your services.

I take the other approach - I tell parents that the tuition I charge anticipates their student will miss 3 lessons during the year, so if they attend all lessons, they've actually received a bonus.


It seems like it's all in how you frame it, because as an adult student, I would absolutely LOVE a policy like this as well.

It would mean that if I have an emergency or get sick, I don't have to stress about missing piano or making up the lesson, because a few missed lessons are already built in (I would of course give ample notice, not talking about just not showing up)...

And... being the frugal maximizer that I am, it would be a really strong incentive to try not to miss any lessons, so that I would get the bonus lessons wink

I wish my teacher did something like this!

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#1251503 - 08/18/09 05:07 PM Re: Are you changing/updating your studio policy for fall? [Re: dumdumdiddle]
Barb860 Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/11/09
Posts: 1644
Loc: northern California
Originally Posted By: dumdumdiddle
I like short, simple, and to-the-point, which is why I started a 'no makeup' policy. I don't have to write a paragraph outlining the circumstances when a makeup would or would not be given and then have to decide which students should get one and which should not. Parents know when they sign up that there are no makeups.

I used to think differently, back when I was younger, hadn't taught much, had only a handful of students, and could easily fit a makeup into my schedule. Now, however, I'm not willing to give up my 'family time' or 'down time'.

When you went from a handful of students to a bigger roster, how did you change your studio policy? Did you simply put out a new one with "no makeup lessons" on it? I'm so tempted to do that but I don't think I can go from offering makeup lessons to not offering any at all. I would love to though cool
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#1251509 - 08/18/09 05:27 PM Re: Are you changing/updating your studio policy for fall? [Re: Barb860]
Ebony and Ivory Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/14/05
Posts: 1179
Loc: Minnesota
Originally Posted By: Barb860
I'm so tempted to do that but I don't think I can go from offering makeup lessons to not offering any at all. I would love to though cool


You could just start that policy with your new students and gradually phase out the old ones...
I've done that with things that I have changed my mind about.
_________________________
It is better to be kind than to be right.

Professional private piano teacher since 1994.

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#1251515 - 08/18/09 05:38 PM Re: Are you changing/updating your studio policy for fall? [Re: Ebony and Ivory]
John v.d.Brook Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7200
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
Let's differentiate between makeup lessons and rescheduled lessons.

Rescheduling must be done before the event. After the event is not rescheduling, it's making up for something which has been missed.

You cannot reschedule 5 minutes before the event, because no one else can be scheduled into that time slot. All school events, including sports conflicts, are known well in advanced, so specifying 48 or even 72 hrs notice should not be a hindrance. Medical appointments are generally scheduled months in advance, so there is no excuse at all not to notify you.

Illnesses, such as flu or body injuries may come on suddenly. For those, I'd want at least morning, day of lesson notification of a schedule change.

My general policy is that you can reschedule any time the week of; you could be uber flexible and give students a rescheduling window of plus or minus 3 days. Otherwise, the lesson is forfeited.
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#1251526 - 08/18/09 05:54 PM Re: Are you changing/updating your studio policy for fall? [Re: John v.d.Brook]
Ebony and Ivory Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/14/05
Posts: 1179
Loc: Minnesota
Originally Posted By: John v.d.Brook
Let's differentiate between makeup lessons and rescheduled lessons.

Rescheduling must be done before the event. After the event is not rescheduling, it's making up for something which has been missed.


Good point.

So your policy allows for both then, right?

I feel bad that the kids that are sick don't get a make-up lesson. There is not enough notice to fill that spot, so it's forfeited. There were too many times when kids would be "sick" and need a rescheduled lesson, but then they would be at the event or something that night. They knew all they had to do was tell me they were sick and they could get a lesson on a different day.

My current policy has no allowance for that, but then I end up with people coming when they're sick because they don't want to forfeit a paid lesson.

I allow rescheduling as much as I can, but sometimes there is just no room left in the schedule.

I think I may adopt your plan, if I may smile
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#1251549 - 08/18/09 06:46 PM Re: Are you changing/updating your studio policy for fall? [Re: John v.d.Brook]
Barb860 Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/11/09
Posts: 1644
Loc: northern California
[quote from John v.d.brook)

My general policy is that you can reschedule any time the week of; you could be uber flexible and give students a rescheduling window of plus or minus 3 days. Otherwise, the lesson is forfeited.

[/quote]

Does this mean that you allow time in your schedule for rescheduled lessons?
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#1251558 - 08/18/09 06:58 PM Re: Are you changing/updating your studio policy for fall? [Re: Ebony and Ivory]
Barb860 Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/11/09
Posts: 1644
Loc: northern California
Originally Posted By: Ebony and Ivory
Originally Posted By: Barb860
I'm so tempted to do that but I don't think I can go from offering makeup lessons to not offering any at all. I would love to though cool


You could just start that policy with your new students and gradually phase out the old ones...
I've done that with things that I have changed my mind about.


Do you forget to whom you told what? That could be a problem for me. One student gets rescheduled lessons, another doesn't? I like your idea but I have a good bit of brain fog blush
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#1251564 - 08/18/09 07:15 PM Re: Are you changing/updating your studio policy for fall? [Re: Barb860]
Ebony and Ivory Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/14/05
Posts: 1179
Loc: Minnesota
Originally Posted By: Barb860
Do you forget to whom you told what? That could be a problem for me. One student gets rescheduled lessons, another doesn't? I like your idea but I have a good bit of brain fog blush

Hee-hee.
No, I pretty much remember that kind of stuff, but I do make lists, lists, lists! lol

I have never had a parent ask about why one thing is different with them than another. I don't think most the families know each other. I'm prepared to just be honest and tell them that the "old folks are Grandfathered in" if it ever comes up.


Edited by Ebony and Ivory (08/18/09 07:23 PM)
_________________________
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#1251578 - 08/18/09 07:34 PM Re: Are you changing/updating your studio policy for fall? [Re: Ebony and Ivory]
John v.d.Brook Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7200
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
Barb, I teach from noon to 9 PM; that is, my studio is open for lessons, noon to 9PM, M-Th and noon to 6PM on Fridays. I like to take my honey out to dinner from time to time, and can't do it if I'm clogged with lessons.

I have lots to do with running a business, plus my own personal practice, so moving a student around during those hours is not a hardship. If time is available. If time isn't available because of other students, well, that's life. What is a hardship is a student calling me at 7PM saying they forgot they had a soccer match that afternoon and that's why they couldn't come, or a friend had a birthday party, or what ever the excuse is. Those do not get makeups. Or the student who calls me Thursday night to let me know that they cannot come to Friday's lesson because of a school/sporting/whatever event and can they reschedule. Sure, I happen to have 12:00 to 12:45 open today, come then. "But Mr. V, I have school then." "Well, you have piano at 4:30. Either be there or don't, it's your choice, and if you want to come at noon, I'm available. Your decision."

I have a couple of days on my calendar called "teacher makeup days" for when I'm sick or unavoidably absent and owe the student a lesson. If a student was ill, and they are a hard worker, then I will probably slide them in for an extra lesson.

But fundamentally, I no longer do makeups.
_________________________
"Those who dare to teach must never cease to learn." -- Richard Henry Dann
Full-time Private Piano Teacher offering Piano Lessons in Olympia, WA. www.mypianoteacher.com
Certified by the American College of Musicians; member NGPT, MTNA, WSMTA, OMTA

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#1251675 - 08/18/09 10:23 PM Re: Are you changing/updating your studio policy for fall? [Re: John v.d.Brook]
Stanny Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/08/06
Posts: 1461
I put a swap list in place last year, and my number of makeups dropped from 2-3 per student per semester to a total of about 4 (for 30 students).
_________________________
~Stanny~

Independent Music Teacher
Certified Piano Teacher, American College of Musicians
Member: MTNA, NGPT, ASMTA, NAMTA

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#1251721 - 08/18/09 11:55 PM Re: Are you changing/updating your studio policy for fall? [Re: Stanny]
Mrs.A Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/15/09
Posts: 155
Many of my families know each other. Sometimes they do swap lessons. Stanny mentioned sending out a swap list. What a good idea.

It takes a lot of time and energy to reschedule. Playing phone Tag and then searching through the schedule to find a spot (which are only available if someone else has cancelled) can take the same amount of time the lesson would. I used to do that. Now I allow for make-ups once a month 8:00 am on the FIRST Saturday of the month. It is a group lesson and open to all who need a make-up. Students are allowed to use this option if they call ahead and cancel.

I find that students do not take this option and forfeit their make-up. I am sure that has to do with the 8:00 a.m. time but no one can complain that I do not allow for make-ups.
_________________________
Piano Teacher.
Church Music Director.
Kindermusik Instructor.
Mom to four boys.


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#1252345 - 08/20/09 03:16 AM Re: Are you changing/updating your studio policy for fall? [Re: eweiss]
musiclady Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/19/05
Posts: 431
Loc: Toronto, Canada
Yes, mainly by adding clauses for permission to photograph and record students, and having students and parents initialize each section. Stating that tuition is due by the 1st even if there is a credit on their bill.Being somewhat stricter about students missing lessons for poor reasons. Charging for the in person interview if they miss the first one with less than about 12 hours note or after the second one.

Meri
_________________________
Clarinet and Piano Teacher based out of Toronto, Canada.Web: http://donmillsmusicstudio.weebly.com

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