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#1253022 - 08/20/09 10:22 PM Scheduling Students
loves-to-teach Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 02/12/09
Posts: 16
Loc: Johnsburg, IL
Hi Everyone,
It's that time of year when scheduling students for fall takes place. Right about now I feel like pulling my hair out. The schedule I create now will be in place until the end of the school year with minor changes. The summer schedule is different which requires a new schedule for the fall. My question, does anyone have an efficient way of scheduling students that keeps everyone happy?

Thank you

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#1253023 - 08/20/09 10:24 PM Re: Scheduling Students [Re: loves-to-teach]
Barb860 Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/11/09
Posts: 1646
Loc: northern California
Originally Posted By: loves-to-teach
Hi Everyone,
It's that time of year when scheduling students for fall takes place. Right about now I feel like pulling my hair out. The schedule I create now will be in place until the end of the school year with minor changes. The summer schedule is different which requires a new schedule for the fall. My question, does anyone have an efficient way of scheduling students that keeps everyone happy?

Thank you


A schedule that "keeps everyone happy?" ARE YOU KIDDING???
_________________________
Piano Teacher

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#1253034 - 08/20/09 10:37 PM Re: Scheduling Students [Re: Barb860]
Stanny Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/08/06
Posts: 1461
I first send an email out to my parents with two ore more students asking if they want their same spot or want to change. I like sibs to come together and it helps the families out too.

Next I sent everyone else a letter and it's 1st come 1st serve. New students get last pick.
_________________________
~Stanny~

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

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#1253043 - 08/20/09 10:58 PM Re: Scheduling Students [Re: Stanny]
Mrs.A Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/15/09
Posts: 155
I am not saying this is best but it is what I do.

During summer break, I move all my lessons to mornings. (I do offer one evening for those parents who work) In the spring I write up a blank schedule and have parents fill in the time they prefer.

In the fall Students get the same spot they had at the end of the school year unless they want a change. It is easy as the schedule is stored in my computer.

Two weeks ago I mailed home a sheet with my tuition statement that stated . “Your student ____(name)______is scheduled for ____(time)________on ___(Week Day)________. This is the same spot you had last year. This schedule will resume the week of August 16th. If this time spot is no longer convenient, please let me know and we will accommodate.”

This year no one rescheduled……..and everyone showed up at the right time this week!
_________________________
Piano Teacher.
Church Music Director.
Kindermusik Instructor.
Mom to four boys.


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#1253053 - 08/20/09 11:24 PM Re: Scheduling Students [Re: Mrs.A]
Kreisler Offline


Registered: 11/27/02
Posts: 13789
Loc: Iowa City, IA
There is no efficient way. It just takes a lot of conversations. I do tend to prefer face-to-face or phone over email. In the time an email is sent, read, replied to, and confirmed, many things can change!
_________________________
"If we continually try to force a child to do what he is afraid to do, he will become more timid, and will use his brains and energy, not to explore the unknown, but to find ways to avoid the pressures we put on him." (John Holt)

www.pianoped.com
www.youtube.com/user/UIPianoPed

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#1253067 - 08/21/09 12:02 AM Re: Scheduling Students [Re: loves-to-teach]
John v.d.Brook Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7366
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
Originally Posted By: loves-to-teach
Hi Everyone,
It's that time of year when scheduling students for fall takes place. Right about now I feel like pulling my hair out. The schedule I create now will be in place until the end of the school year with minor changes. The summer schedule is different which requires a new schedule for the fall. My question, does anyone have an efficient way of scheduling students that keeps everyone happy?

Thank you


I charge students an enrollment fee. They get to choose their lesson time based on the date I receive their enrollment fee. Obviously, the serious students take care of matters promptly, and the less serious students do not.

Students may claim their previous time if and only if they've paid their enrollment fee.

However, it does pay to be flexible. Elementary students have more flexibility than high school students and I point this out to them, that the old saw, what goes around comes around applies to lessons times and their flexibility, too!
_________________________
"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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#1253228 - 08/21/09 08:59 AM Re: Scheduling Students [Re: Barb860]
Ebony and Ivory Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/14/05
Posts: 1179
Loc: Minnesota
Originally Posted By: Barb860
A schedule that "keeps everyone happy?" ARE YOU KIDDING???
LOLOL


I used to do seniority, but too many families were ending up with different days/times for siblings. I also don't try to keep them the same because too many kids are changing sports, entering confirmation etc and their old spots don't work anyway.

This works really well for me:

About 3 weeks before school starts I send an email to all the parents with my available times. I am not specific about these times because of 30/45/60 minute lessons. They are general Ie: Monday 3:30-7, Tuesday 5-8 etc for instance.

I tell them that they should pick their top 3 times and I will start accepting requests on {[Sat the 29th at 9am]}. If their request comes before that it goes to the end of that first request day.

They get about a week to figure out what works for them, and then I have a written record of what they want. I also have a record of the order that the requests come it.

I know I have a couple families that are not big on email (I'm working on that lol), so I call and tell them the email is coming.


Edited by Ebony and Ivory (08/21/09 09:00 AM)
_________________________
It is better to be kind than to be right.

Professional private piano teacher since 1994.

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#1253246 - 08/21/09 09:39 AM Re: Scheduling Students [Re: Ebony and Ivory]
Morodiene Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 11898
Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
I require students to take at least 6 lessons over the summer to get scheduling priority in the Fall. Those who do not wait until those students have confirmed their times before they get to choose their time.

I sent out letters on the 10th of August to the summer students confirming their previous time in the Fall, or some other time that they already arranged with me. I try to be accommodating, but even with students who have priority, we can't always find a time that works if they need to change from the previous year. Anyways, they had until Aug 20th to confirm with me, after which I opened it up to all the other students.

I must say that the majority of my students took summer lessons. Of the 5 that did not, only one so far has arranged for their lesson time and made a point of contacting me over the summer to let me know they planned on returning in the Fall (2 of the 5 were siblings that wanted to take lessons at the school where their friends took lessons :(, and one was ADHD and very difficult to deal with - he was my first lesson of the day last year and after that 1/2 hour I was exhausted!). So by doing this, I really have a good idea of how many openings I will have, because I know that those who continued in the summer were serious about continuing.

This worked out pretty well, even considering the fact that 7 of my students were increasing their lesson times from 30 to 45 minutes, since those who were increasing were also ones who continued over the summer and we were able to arrange their new times pretty easily.

The one drawback/inconsistency is that if a new student started with me over the summer, they also got scheduled with the "priority" students, but I made an effort not to give away a previous student's time.
_________________________
private piano/voice teacher - full time
MTNA member
www.valeoconservatory.com
Petrof 9'2 Concert, Yamaha G3, Roland FP-7, Yamaha MOX6, Kawai MP11

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#1253300 - 08/21/09 11:02 AM Re: Scheduling Students [Re: Morodiene]
Lollipop Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/28/09
Posts: 820
Loc: Georgia
Students who are returning from the spring have first dibs on their old time. I create a master schedule using sticky notes. Everyone is told that the remaining times will be alloted first come - first served, so once they know that their previous time is not going to work, they need to contact me ASAP. We have the usual last-minute changes due to other activities interferring, but parents know they have to take what's left, or do without.

I personally think only good things come from parents realizing their kid is NOT my only student.
_________________________
piano teacher

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#1253349 - 08/21/09 12:05 PM Re: Scheduling Students [Re: Lollipop]
Minniemay Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/09
Posts: 1702
Loc: CA
I have parents fill out a form listing their first three choices of lesson times. So far so good. Everyone got their first choice! I teach less than 20 students at home, but still, for everyone to get their first choice? Must be right livin' . . . smile
_________________________
B.A., Piano, Piano Pegagogy, Music Ed.
M.M., Piano

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#1253472 - 08/21/09 03:14 PM Re: Scheduling Students [Re: Minniemay]
AZNpiano Online   sleepy
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/07/07
Posts: 5483
Loc: Orange County, CA
I am dreading this year's schedule because several of my students are starting high school--and I might end up sending some of them to my colleagues because I can't possibly schedule them all on the days they can do piano. As usual, the high school students will get first pick in my studio.

I then give priority to siblings that take up 2-hour blocks.

Elementary school kids should have much more flexibility; however, they also have too many other activities scheduled (sports, dance, art class, etc.).
_________________________
Private Piano Teacher and MTAC Member

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#1253667 - 08/21/09 08:24 PM Re: Scheduling Students [Re: Minniemay]
loves-to-teach Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 02/12/09
Posts: 16
Loc: Johnsburg, IL
Thanks so much for your input. You've given me lots of ideas to work with and I definitely have to have something in place. Yesterday I made the mistake of asking the mother of a homeschooler to switch to an hour earlier so I would have a room for a first-grader who had been in my preschool music group last year. She waivered and then agreed, I then called the first-grader's mother to let her know that there was an opening for her child. As soon as I put the phone down, the home-schooler parent called and was ranting on and on about how her schedule (just because she is a homeschooler) isn't respected. I was pretty shook up, but at the same time I realized she had a bit of a problem. Geesh!, I really hate upsetting this woman, but...

Thanks again, everyone. I'll be watching for any future posts.

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#1253693 - 08/21/09 08:45 PM Re: Scheduling Students [Re: loves-to-teach]
Ebony and Ivory Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/14/05
Posts: 1179
Loc: Minnesota
Originally Posted By: loves-to-teach
As soon as I put the phone down, the home-schooler parent called and was ranting on and on about how her schedule (just because she is a homeschooler) isn't respected. I was pretty shook up, but at the same time I realized she had a bit of a problem. Geesh!, I really hate upsetting this woman, but... .


What did you do about that lady? She must have gone home and got up her nerve before she called you back huh?! I'm sorry frown
_________________________
It is better to be kind than to be right.

Professional private piano teacher since 1994.

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#1253735 - 08/21/09 09:33 PM Re: Scheduling Students [Re: loves-to-teach]
Betty Patnude Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/11/07
Posts: 4896
Loc: Puyallup, Washington
Yes, we all work hard to put things into a schedule that works for us and for our students and families. My summer schedule stays pretty much the same as the school year, but a few need a different time in the summer.

I allow rescheduling when their schedules get horrendous or something very important to them comes up in conflict. I will reschedule for a day or for a month or so, and then back to the schedule we established.

I think it's incredibly difficult to stick with one schedule throughout the year and not make adjustments for them. I learned to be more flexible because once I was quite rigid in scheduling. I also had 40 students or more and didn't have space to do much shifting around. In the last few years, because my husband has been early retired since 1996, I downsized to a more accomodating 25, and when we moved in 2006, I again downsized to enjoy more of his retirement with him. I am making room to schedule 20 in September, and several of those are hour lessons, this is "enough" for me after spending 38 years in teaching music. I don't want to retire, but I do enjoy having some freedom. There were years when there was no time available to me at all with my 5 kids and heavy student load. We should question our priorities when we find ourselves maxed out.

I get my lessons in during T-W-Th and keep M and F open for appointments and errands as well as combining M and F with S and S for long, relaxing weekends. Teacher's might want to consider leaving the M or F unfilled so that you get plenty of R & R and free time to do things special to you.

In scheduling, the first thing I do is map out the times I am comfortably available to take students, I add in my other commitments and my husband's, and then book selected students through the interview process into the program.

One of my biggest goals in dealing with the policies and scheduling and interfacing with families is to cooperate with them as much as I can when it is important enough. I am lucky to not have the difficult situations I had before my policy making took effect. I think we are all working for the same outcome and sometimes it requires a little zig or zag in planning. I just think it's the easier way and avoids stress for everyone.

Consider writing in pencil instead of concrete and it may be the relief you need. If keeping a concrete schedule really is important to you, your students need to know and expect that.


Have a good year in your teaching!

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#1254153 - 08/22/09 05:17 PM Re: Scheduling Students [Re: Betty Patnude]
MrsCamels Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/18/09
Posts: 176
Loc: Los Angeles
I had a very nice and orderly form I gave to all the parents.
I only got one back, several calls a few emails and a few parents who don't know when their kids get out of school! oh well. I tried!
_________________________
Teaching since 2004
Private studio owner since 2008
www.ecsorota.com

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#1255975 - 08/25/09 04:32 PM Re: Scheduling Students [Re: Minniemay]
Roxy Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/19/08
Posts: 478
Loc: Whittier, Calif
Because every school year everyone's schedule changes usually the student doesn't want the same day or time slot as the previous year, especially if they are moving from jr. high into high school, or high school into University. I ask each student to give me two to three days of their choice days starting with the one most preferred and to give me a 3 and half hour time slot to work with on those days. And usually I can accomodate all of them with little difficulty. But unless there is some kind of extreme situation. I actually pick the certain time slot within the perameters that I have set. Good luck, scheduling is never fun, easy or enjoyable, however it is necessary.

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#1256135 - 08/25/09 09:22 PM Re: Scheduling Students [Re: Roxy]
abcdefg Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/18/09
Posts: 67
Loc: midwest
Returning students get to go back to their original times unless they need a change. New students get leftover times. I have never had a homeschool family complain. They take their lessons during school hours and realize that that helps my after school schedule. Somehow it all works out.

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#1256197 - 08/25/09 11:20 PM Re: Scheduling Students [Re: abcdefg]
Morodiene Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 11898
Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
Originally Posted By: abcdefg
Returning students get to go back to their original times unless they need a change. New students get leftover times. I have never had a homeschool family complain. They take their lessons during school hours and realize that that helps my after school schedule. Somehow it all works out.


I actually have home school students who are done with their schooling by noon, so they can come in the early afternoon before school lets out for the public school kids. Also, I'm more flexible with these students as far as rescheduling simply because I can (although I do try to keep in line with my policy). But at any rate, there is not a problem with scheduling as it works better for them as well. I can't imagine why that woman felt as though she were put out by the rescheduling. It's not as though *you* always ask to change her time around...you just asked once. Probably was having a bad day.
_________________________
private piano/voice teacher - full time
MTNA member
www.valeoconservatory.com
Petrof 9'2 Concert, Yamaha G3, Roland FP-7, Yamaha MOX6, Kawai MP11

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#1256448 - 08/26/09 11:50 AM Re: Scheduling Students [Re: Morodiene]
MrsCamels Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/18/09
Posts: 176
Loc: Los Angeles
One of my best students isn't available on any of the days my studio is open, so I agreed to take him on an off day. Still disappointed about this, because I didn't want that day open, but didn't know what else to do except lose him. frown
_________________________
Teaching since 2004
Private studio owner since 2008
www.ecsorota.com

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#1256468 - 08/26/09 12:22 PM Re: Scheduling Students [Re: MrsCamels]
Betty Patnude Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/11/07
Posts: 4896
Loc: Puyallup, Washington
I've been thankful for the families that have chosen a time that really works for them and work hard to keep that time over the length of time they have studied with me. This sounds like it couldn't happen like this but it has. I had a Thursday at 4:00 PM for 7 years, and now my Thursday at 2:00 is in his 8th year. Several are in their 3rd year at the same time.

I accomodate those who need to reschedule a weekly lesson and will move someone to a better time for them when it comes up. It usually works and was a good thing to have done.

There are also the students who are in and out of changing activities during the year (sports) and I accomodate that too.

Fortunately, I'm finding the majority like the same appointment week after week during the recent past years. I lived with the crazy schedules for a very long time, but it really wasn't a problem to me as I had blocked out plenty of lesson slots to do that. It gets harder to do if you have 25 to 40 students, but I've been working with 20 or less the last 3 years, and it is just flowing beautifully one week to another. (Knock on wood!)

I opened Saturdays when I moved 3 years ago and almost immediately regretted it. There were several requesting Saturdays so I figured it was to my advantage to spend 9 - 12 in the studio. Well, that turned out to be like a seismic earthquake existance - no one could consistently keep their schedule. It had more holes than Swiss Cheese. It took me about 5 months (January) to decide that I would not give up my precious Saturdays for anyone for any reason in the future.

"If the teacher isn't happy, ain't nobody happy." - a reinvention of "If Mama isn't happy, ain't nobody happy." We can accomodate if it's our choice, however the demand to be accomodated if often proven to be to our disadvantage if we do it reluctantly.

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#1256513 - 08/26/09 01:26 PM Re: Scheduling Students [Re: Betty Patnude]
MrsCamels Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/18/09
Posts: 176
Loc: Los Angeles
I agree about Saturdays Betty. It does work out for those who are commuting from a distance to me, but what a waste! So many cancellations. I tried to alter my schedule this year to have Fri, Sat and Monday off since all of my family lives out of state - makes traveling a lot easier, and frees up time to have visitors come. However, i had one student who needed to switch to fridays and 2 still clinging to saturdays. I'm at least weaning them off, though. Maybe by next year I'll have a free Saturday. Really regret it now, but at the time I really needed the students and now don't want to lose them. So, if anyone else is considering opening up Saturdays BEWARE!
_________________________
Teaching since 2004
Private studio owner since 2008
www.ecsorota.com

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#1256533 - 08/26/09 01:59 PM Re: Scheduling Students [Re: MrsCamels]
Betty Patnude Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/11/07
Posts: 4896
Loc: Puyallup, Washington
There is much to be said about having a 3 day weekend! I've been fortunate to be able to keep Friday-Saturday-Sunday as a unit of opportunity to do other things with our family or friends. After working hard in teaching, it is nice to have a little of your own downtime to do the things important to yourself alone, too.

My husband retired early in 1996 and I initiated it then because we were interested in camping and little adventures nearby in Washington State. That worked for the local destinations for a long time.

Then we moved here, only 7 miles away, but a world of difference. The South Hill area is abundant with good piano teachers. The competition is keen.

Because I was rebuilding my studio I decided to open that Saturday to be able to accept them as students and regretted it almost immediately. This is how we learn what works best for us.

Come to think of it, that was one reason why I gave up being a church musician and an accompanist,too, as they were Saturday and Sunday events. I did that for years and years. If we are going to accomodate something, it should first be meeting our own needs and working primarily in our own behalf.

What a thought!

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#1256544 - 08/26/09 02:15 PM Re: Scheduling Students [Re: Betty Patnude]
Morodiene Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 11898
Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
Originally Posted By: Betty Patnude

I opened Saturdays when I moved 3 years ago and almost immediately regretted it. There were several requesting Saturdays so I figured it was to my advantage to spend 9 - 12 in the studio. Well, that turned out to be like a seismic earthquake existance - no one could consistently keep their schedule. It had more holes than Swiss Cheese. It took me about 5 months (January) to decide that I would not give up my precious Saturdays for anyone for any reason in the future.

I used to teach Saturdays too. Just in the mornings, like you. And like, you, I also experienced a lot of reschedulings and last-minute changes and no-shows. Of course, I, too, was held down and couldn't visit my parents on the weekends or do anything. I have never regretted discontinuing Saturday lessons, and it is rare that I get a request for one.
_________________________
private piano/voice teacher - full time
MTNA member
www.valeoconservatory.com
Petrof 9'2 Concert, Yamaha G3, Roland FP-7, Yamaha MOX6, Kawai MP11

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