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#1276978 - 09/28/09 11:14 PM Charging per lesson vs. per month
PianoKitty Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/28/09
Posts: 133
Loc: US
How do you charge your students - per lesson or per month? Why did you choose that method?

I have been charging per lesson, sending out monthly invoices, since I began teaching. But with so many students, it is really bogging me down each month at invoice time! So, I am considering charging by month. It would be so much easier! All I would have to keep track of is book costs.

BUT - how do you determine your monthly fee? Some months have 4 lessons, others have 5. Also, some months have holidays, some do not. Do you just take the total number of weeks in the year, multiply by your rate, then divide by 12 months? For some reason, it seems like I'm going to lose out on some money using the month method; I don't know why! Help! I am thinking of changing my method in January.
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#1276996 - 09/29/09 12:00 AM Re: Charging per lesson vs. per month [Re: PianoKitty]
dumdumdiddle Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/16/06
Posts: 1265
Loc: California
Here's what I do:

My teaching year runs from September thru June (summer is a different story). I make sure and take out the weeks I won't be teaching (1 week for Thanksgiving, 2 for Christmas, 1 for Spring Break, and 1 extra week that I can take off whenever I want). That usually leaves me with about 37 lessons. I multiply that by how much I want to charge per lesson to get a grand total, then divide that total by 10 months, coming up with an equal fee each month.

This eliminates the need for sending out invoices and is SO much easier on my bookkeeping. You will get those parents who ask why December's tuition is the same when they're only getting two lessons, so be prepared to explain it to them frequently for the first year or so.

I would never charge tuition any other way.
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Early Childhood Music Teacher/Group Piano Teacher/Private Piano Teacher
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#1276998 - 09/29/09 12:03 AM Re: Charging per lesson vs. per month [Re: PianoKitty]
currawong Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/15/07
Posts: 5929
Loc: Down Under
Originally Posted By: PianoKitty
BUT - how do you determine your monthly fee? ...Do you just take the total number of weeks in the year, multiply by your rate, then divide by 12 months?
That's the way most teachers seem to do it, though I wouldn't divide by 12, but by 11, or maybe even 10, depending on how long your summer break is. I found, when I was doing it this way, that you really have to spell it out very clearly though, and you may still have people who don't seem to get it...
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#1277005 - 09/29/09 12:44 AM Re: Charging per lesson vs. per month [Re: currawong]
Nikalette Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/22/08
Posts: 1081
Loc: California
Student here, I've always given my teachers a check the day of the lesson, pay as you go, unless there's a block of lessons (group lessons) then I've paid in advance.

Maybe it's because that's how I like to be paid in my own business. I hate sending invoices, and I like to be paid at time of service.

None of the teachers I've studied with has said anything. Is it unusual to pay this way? Perhaps it's a regional thing.

There was just one that gave me a discount for a month in advance, and I ended up quitting after 2 lessons...he wouldn't issue a refund, but he was so bad I wouldn't go back anyway.

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#1277016 - 09/29/09 01:17 AM Re: Charging per lesson vs. per month [Re: Nikalette]
dumdumdiddle Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/16/06
Posts: 1265
Loc: California
I think that's pretty unusual. I live in California and I don't know any teachers who want to be paid by the lesson on the day of the lesson. They wouldn't know from week to week how to plan, who would be showing up for lessons. They also wouldn't be able to know how much money to really expect to pay bills and expenses.

I think most dance, gymnastics, art, and karate lessons are the same way. They charge in advance for the month, with payment being due at the first lesson.
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Early Childhood Music Teacher/Group Piano Teacher/Private Piano Teacher
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#1277027 - 09/29/09 02:05 AM Re: Charging per lesson vs. per month [Re: dumdumdiddle]
Basia C. Online   blank
Full Member

Registered: 03/02/09
Posts: 358
Loc: Sweden
Another student here. Just wanted to suggest you are careful about giving proper information when you change payment system. It's best to send a written note about the changes in advance so everyone knows what the policy is.

I take lessons at a music school. The teacher is great, but the administration is terrible. This month suddenly I recieved two invoices, for September and October. They had switched from paying for the lessons you had in the previous month, to paying for lessons in advance for the coming month. I am perfectly fine with this, and can see the advantages to the music school, but I was annoyed by the fact that they had not sent me any information of the changes beforehand or even any note to explain why there was two invoices.

The problem for me is that I have to produce the money for an additional monthly fee as if by magic. Additionally I have no written record to look at if I want to recall the policy.

(I don't even bother to contact the mucic school about this, just asked my teacher to tell the owner that it would have been better for the students to inform about it in advance.)
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#1277028 - 09/29/09 02:13 AM Re: Charging per lesson vs. per month [Re: Nikalette]
dave solazzo Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/30/09
Posts: 160
Loc: syracuse ny
Originally Posted By: Nikalette
Student here, I've always given my teachers a check the day of the lesson, pay as you go, unless there's a block of lessons (group lessons) then I've paid in advance.

None of the teachers I've studied with has said anything. Is it unusual to pay this way?


i don't think that it's unusual. i've always done it this way too--both as a teacher and student.

as a teacher, i'd feel a little weird about making it mandatory that students pay for the month in advance--but that's just me.
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#1277032 - 09/29/09 02:20 AM Re: Charging per lesson vs. per month [Re: Basia C.]
AZNpiano Online   sleepy
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/07/07
Posts: 5483
Loc: Orange County, CA
Originally Posted By: Basia C.
I take lessons at a music school. The teacher is great, but the administration is terrible.


So, this crummy "music school" problem happens in Sweden, too.
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Private Piano Teacher and MTAC Member

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#1277047 - 09/29/09 03:19 AM Re: Charging per lesson vs. per month [Re: AZNpiano]
kevinb Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/18/09
Posts: 1565
I would suggest that, in the UK, pay-on-the-day is the most common, not just for music, but for all forms of personal tuition. Some teachers do pay-per-school-term for kids, on the basis that many parents (and that includes teachers who are parents) will have other commitments during school breaks. But even then it tends to be expressed as a specific number of lessons, rather than a period of time.

Partly, I think, this arrangement stems from the hourly rates negotiated by musician's unions. As a student/parent, you know to expect to pay a certain amount per hour, because you can check the going rate with the union. But partly it's just the convention.

I can well imagine that pay-on-the-day is a real drag for teachers who rely mainly on teaching for their income, and whose students (or their parents) would be poor attenders if they hadn't paid in advance. I don't know how things are in the US and elsewhere, but my experience is that in the UK most music teachers have forms of income in addition to their teaching -- they do performances, session recording, school work, etc. So the slightly erratic income from teaching is less of a hazard than it would be if teaching was their only income. In addition, from looking at the posts on this forum, it seems to me that the relationship between student and teacher in the US tends to be a rather long-term one. In the UK, there's a lot more mixing of students and teachers. Whether that's the cause of the pay-as-you-go convention or the consequence, I don't know.

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#1277052 - 09/29/09 03:30 AM Re: Charging per lesson vs. per month [Re: Nikalette]
Nikolas Online   content
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/26/07
Posts: 5261
Loc: Europe
Originally Posted By: Nikalette
Student here, I've always given my teachers a check the day of the lesson, pay as you go, unless there's a block of lessons (group lessons) then I've paid in advance.
Pay per day is not unusual... But paying by check is something I really really don't like and never accepted it!

Unless you mean some kind of check which you don't have to take to the bank and cash out or something, in which case I apologize.

Paying monthly has each advantages, certainly and it covers very simply the idea of "Awww... my kid lost a lesson, we won't pay you for that". You get paid a set amount per month, which is calculated by the anual fee divided by the months and that's all! Can't see anyone complaining with this.

Just make sure it's in writting to avoid misunderstandings and complications.
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#1277053 - 09/29/09 03:32 AM Re: Charging per lesson vs. per month [Re: kevinb]
Chris H. Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/14/05
Posts: 2911
Loc: UK.
I don't think it has much to do with where you live and teach. If you are a self employed piano teacher you can choose to arrange your fees any way you like. It's more likely going to depend on who you teach and the amount you teach.

I teach piano full time and it is my main source of income. All my students have a regular weekly lesson. So for me it's much better to charge a fixed monthly fee and it makes it a lot easier on my budget and admin. If I had only a few students and their lessons were less frequent then pay as you go would be an option.

None of my clients seem to mind paying monthly. Most of them get paid monthly and expect to pay their bills monthly. They know that the piano lessons will cost the same amount every month and will be due at the start of the month so it's easy for them too. It's all explained very carefully in my policy and I make clear the cost of one individual lesson so there is no mystery.
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#1277055 - 09/29/09 03:39 AM Re: Charging per lesson vs. per month [Re: kevinb]
currawong Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/15/07
Posts: 5929
Loc: Down Under
Originally Posted By: kevinb
I would suggest that, in the UK, pay-on-the-day is the most common, not just for music, but for all forms of personal tuition. Some teachers do pay-per-school-term for kids, on the basis that many parents (and that includes teachers who are parents) will have other commitments during school breaks. But even then it tends to be expressed as a specific number of lessons, rather than a period of time.
Here in Australia paying by the school term (typically 10 weeks, 4 terms per year) is also common. That's in fact what I do at present. It is accepted well here - we don't have such a long summer break as the US does (only about 6 weeks), and a term's fees is not such a huge slug as a semester.
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#1277061 - 09/29/09 04:00 AM Re: Charging per lesson vs. per month [Re: currawong]
Minniemay Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/09
Posts: 1702
Loc: CA
I set an annual tuition. Tuition for the year is $X, and parents choose a payment plan. They can pay in full, by semester or in monthly installments (you must call them installments). For that tuition the student gets 40 lessons. I give out a calendar marking out the weeks I am unavailable. This totally eliminates the make-up lesson problem for me and I have a stable income month-to-month, including the summer!

If the student doesn't use all 40, they are out those lessons. No refund, no make-up. If they go over the 40, bill them for the overage. So far, so good.

I explain this all at the interview (a real necessity).
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B.A., Piano, Piano Pegagogy, Music Ed.
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#1277067 - 09/29/09 04:15 AM Re: Charging per lesson vs. per month [Re: Minniemay]
kevinb Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/18/09
Posts: 1565
Originally Posted By: Minniemay
I set an annual tuition. Tuition for the year is $X, and parents choose a payment plan. They can pay in full, by semester or in monthly installments (you must call them installments). For that tuition the student gets 40 lessons. I give out a calendar marking out the weeks I am unavailable. This totally eliminates the make-up lesson problem for me and I have a stable income month-to-month, including the summer!

If the student doesn't use all 40, they are out those lessons. No refund, no make-up. If they go over the 40, bill them for the overage. So far, so good.

I explain this all at the interview (a real necessity).


It would be great to be able to do that. It's probably a cultural thing, but I can't imagine anybody in the UK being prepared to pay an annual sum for music tuition (or much else), unless there was a big financial incentive, however that sum was broken down into chunks. It generally needs a discount to get people to commit a month ahead, and the idea of committing a year ahead... no. Not around here. But if works for you, then well done wink

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#1277069 - 09/29/09 04:21 AM Re: Charging per lesson vs. per month [Re: kevinb]
Chris H. Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/14/05
Posts: 2911
Loc: UK.
That's how people usually pay for things like gym membership. No reason why piano tuition couldn't work in the same way.
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#1277076 - 09/29/09 04:47 AM Re: Charging per lesson vs. per month [Re: Chris H.]
Minniemay Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/09
Posts: 1702
Loc: CA
I had only one family this year that chose to pay in full for the year, 3 that pay by semester and the rest are paying in monthly installments.

In any case, setting the annual tuition and choosing a payment plan focuses them on committing to the year.

Chris is right; they do it in a fair amount of other circumstances and many of them appreciate the regularity of the payments (a stable rather than fluctuating bill) or the opportunity to write one less check (in the case of those paying up front).
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B.A., Piano, Piano Pegagogy, Music Ed.
M.M., Piano

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#1277090 - 09/29/09 05:48 AM Re: Charging per lesson vs. per month [Re: Chris H.]
kevinb Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/18/09
Posts: 1565
Originally Posted By: Chris H.
That's how people usually pay for things like gym membership. No reason why piano tuition couldn't work in the same way.


Well, yes -- but where I am the gyms offer discounts for extended terms. In fact, the last one I went to offered a monthly all-you-can-train-for-£20 plan, which I thought was marvellous because then I trained every day.

I wonder if a similar scheme would work for piano lessons? I'm happy to make up a bed in the spare room for my teacher smile

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#1277095 - 09/29/09 06:14 AM Re: Charging per lesson vs. per month [Re: kevinb]
Chris H. Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/14/05
Posts: 2911
Loc: UK.
I tell my students that they are welcome to come and practice on my pianos anytime I am at home and not teaching. No takers so far!

Seriously, the fixed monthly payment is as good for the student as it is for the teacher. It's like when utility companies fix your monthly bill so it doesn't fluctuate between summer and winter. You always know how much to pay and when to pay it.
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Pianist and piano teacher.

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#1277110 - 09/29/09 07:08 AM Re: Charging per lesson vs. per month [Re: Chris H.]
Nyiregyhazi Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/24/09
Posts: 2464
Originally Posted By: Chris H.
That's how people usually pay for things like gym membership. No reason why piano tuition couldn't work in the same way.


Except you can go to the gym whenever you want during that month. You can't turn up for a piano lesson at any point. I would personally expect to pay a consistent amount for any time received- particularly if that time would vary from month to month. To be honest, I do find this system very odd. I'm surprised that students would respond well to such a system- unless it's clearly outlined how many lessons would actually be received over the course of the year. Systems of paying for blocks of lessons (and then counting them off) make sense, but this sounds really rather confusing as a system. What happens if you're ill one week? This must be an absolutely nightmare to put into a contract. I don't think many people in Britain would be willing to enter into such an odd agreement.


Edited by Nyiregyhazi (09/29/09 07:12 AM)
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#1277120 - 09/29/09 07:32 AM Re: Charging per lesson vs. per month [Re: Chris H.]
kevinb Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/18/09
Posts: 1565
Originally Posted By: Chris H.
I
Seriously, the fixed monthly payment is as good for the student as it is for the teacher. It's like when utility companies fix your monthly bill so it doesn't fluctuate between summer and winter. You always know how much to pay and when to pay it.


Sure -- but this works because over the long term, I do actually pay for the electricity, water, telephone, etc., that I actually use. And if I change service providers, I can expect to get refunded any money I have paid and not had a corresponding service for.

Actually, that was for a long time not the case with water supplies in the UK -- most people paid per month regardless of what they used. But increasingly even water is supplied on a pay-as-you-go, metered basis.

And my electricity and water utilities don't get sick or take time off for funerals, or whatever. If you charge for music tuition for fixed periods of time, how do you deal with your own unplanned unavailability? Or do you have somebody to stand in for you?

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#1277123 - 09/29/09 07:34 AM Re: Charging per lesson vs. per month [Re: Nyiregyhazi]
Chris H. Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/14/05
Posts: 2911
Loc: UK.
Originally Posted By: Nyiregyhazi
Originally Posted By: Chris H.
That's how people usually pay for things like gym membership. No reason why piano tuition couldn't work in the same way.


Except you can go to the gym whenever you want during that month.


And you can practise the piano whenever you want. Bargain eh??

It's not at all confusing. You state the number of lessons per year and the price of each lesson, total it up and divide into equal payments. Simple. If the teacher has to miss a lesson for any reason they either make it up or deduct it from the following months fee. I have very few problems working this way and it certainly works better for me than pay as you go. My students seem to prefer it as well.
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Pianist and piano teacher.

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#1277126 - 09/29/09 07:39 AM Re: Charging per lesson vs. per month [Re: Chris H.]
kevinb Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/18/09
Posts: 1565
Originally Posted By: Chris H.
Originally Posted By: Nyiregyhazi
Originally Posted By: Chris H.
That's how people usually pay for things like gym membership. No reason why piano tuition couldn't work in the same way.


Except you can go to the gym whenever you want during that month.


And you can practise the piano whenever you want. Bargain eh??

It's not at all confusing. You state the number of lessons per year and the price of each lesson, total it up and divide into equal payments. Simple. If the teacher has to miss a lesson for any reason they either make it up or deduct it from the following months fee. I have very few problems working this way and it certainly works better for me than pay as you go. My students seem to prefer it as well.


I'd be happy to enter into that kind of arrangements with my kid's teachers so long as there was reciprocity -- that is, I got a deduction from my fees if they were unable to make lessons.

But in that case, what's being described isn't really all that different from pay-on-the-day in practical terms.

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#1277127 - 09/29/09 07:41 AM Re: Charging per lesson vs. per month [Re: Chris H.]
Chris H. Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/14/05
Posts: 2911
Loc: UK.
Of course the best thing about working for yourself is that you get to choose how you do business. Over the years I have refined this part of my policy so that it works well for me and my clients. If they didn't like it then I guess they would go elsewhere.
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Pianist and piano teacher.

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#1277140 - 09/29/09 08:18 AM Re: Charging per lesson vs. per month [Re: kevinb]
Chris H. Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/14/05
Posts: 2911
Loc: UK.
Originally Posted By: kevinb
But in that case, what's being described isn't really all that different from pay-on-the-day in practical terms.



It's the same in that you get the lessons you pay for. But it makes a huge difference to me, in fact I doubt I could run my business any other way. As a full time teacher I need to ensure that my income is broadly the same from one month to the next. Also with around 40 students all those individual cheque and cash payments would be a nightmare to keep track of. I could end up with 150 cheques to pay in every month and most business bank accounts will charge a lot for that. Not to mention the book keeping headaches.

Now if I had a regular job and just a couple of students on the side it would be a different matter. Pay as you go (preferably cash ;)) would be more attractive. I'm sure there are a lot of teacher's out there who do this.
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Pianist and piano teacher.

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#1277141 - 09/29/09 08:19 AM Re: Charging per lesson vs. per month [Re: Chris H.]
Ebony and Ivory Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/14/05
Posts: 1179
Loc: Minnesota
I started charging by the quarter about 3 years ago and it has been the best move ever!
I have 2 families that still pay by month, due to finances, but I save a lot of time on billing. In reference to your other question, I go through all the days of the week one by one and charge that many times. (If there are 13 Mondays in the semester, they get charged for 13 lessons). It is still a pain, but the days are different from month to month, so I do it this way.

If I miss a lesson, I put a credit on their next bill (most people are amazed to see it, they usually have forgotten about it). I allow them 2 missed (unpaid) lessons per semester.

I used the pay by the lesson for less than a year. WAY too much of a pain, and I was trying to collect money from a no-show the week before that they didn't think they should have to pay etc... This way, I have much more control over the money and many fewer trips to the bank!
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#1277156 - 09/29/09 08:54 AM Re: Charging per lesson vs. per month [Re: Ebony and Ivory]
John v.d.Brook Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7366
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
I would guess the teachers in my community are well split on this issue. I charge annual tuition, payable either by month or prepay, as the parent likes. Statements go out monthly. With a computer, this is less of a hassle than it used to be. It seems the more dedicated teachers, with larger studios, tend to go with monthly payments of some kind, whether based on annual tuition, or a flat monthly rate regardless of the number of weeks in the month.

Our professional organizations push us towards the tuition concept.

Part of the problem depends on what it is you're selling. Are you selling weekly music instruction, or are you selling access to your studio at a set time each week? Teachers who sell do little prep may be more comfortable with the pay by lesson model, those who do lots of prep feel significantly shortchanged when payment isn't forthcoming and go with the monthly fee structure.
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#1277158 - 09/29/09 09:00 AM Re: Charging per lesson vs. per month [Re: Minniemay]
Morodiene Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 11898
Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
Originally Posted By: Minniemay
I set an annual tuition. Tuition for the year is $X, and parents choose a payment plan. They can pay in full, by semester or in monthly installments (you must call them installments). For that tuition the student gets 40 lessons. I give out a calendar marking out the weeks I am unavailable. This totally eliminates the make-up lesson problem for me and I have a stable income month-to-month, including the summer!

If the student doesn't use all 40, they are out those lessons. No refund, no make-up. If they go over the 40, bill them for the overage. So far, so good.

I explain this all at the interview (a real necessity).

I do something similar, but I only charge by the semester or they can pay monthly. I do like the idea of calling them installments rather than payments, because that suggests equal amounts. I'll have to use that!

As far as invoicing and billing goes, it does take some time, but it's once a month that I send out bills. I took down emails addresses this year of students who wanted to receive email invoices. Then I use Quickbooks to charge the students who are monthly on the 15th of the month, then I either emailed them or printed and mailed them. I charge a bit more for monthly students since there's more work on my end to invoice and collect.

I started doing invoices early on in my teaching for two reasons: it's my main source of income, and it gives me some leverage for no-shows or last minute cancellations to go shopping (OK, that last one only happened once, but last minute cancellations for any reason come up).

I would not make any major changes like this until the summer so you can give plenty of notice. Perhaps inform parents now that it will become mandatory, in the summer, but if they wanted to, they can pay monthly at their option for now. You'd be surprised how many people prefer this because it's more convenient to not have to remember the checkbook or have the cash each week. Especially when parents just drop off the kids, or the students drive themselves to lessons.
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#1277173 - 09/29/09 09:28 AM Re: Charging per lesson vs. per month [Re: kevinb]
Morodiene Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 11898
Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
Originally Posted By: kevinb
Originally Posted By: Chris H.
I
Seriously, the fixed monthly payment is as good for the student as it is for the teacher. It's like when utility companies fix your monthly bill so it doesn't fluctuate between summer and winter. You always know how much to pay and when to pay it.


Sure -- but this works because over the long term, I do actually pay for the electricity, water, telephone, etc., that I actually use. And if I change service providers, I can expect to get refunded any money I have paid and not had a corresponding service for.

Actually, that was for a long time not the case with water supplies in the UK -- most people paid per month regardless of what they used. But increasingly even water is supplied on a pay-as-you-go, metered basis.

And my electricity and water utilities don't get sick or take time off for funerals, or whatever. If you charge for music tuition for fixed periods of time, how do you deal with your own unplanned unavailability? Or do you have somebody to stand in for you?


I always make up any lessons I miss if I'm sick or there is something that comes up like a funeral. I have designated days where I conduct make up lessons, when I don't have regularly scheduled students: Monday & Tuesday the weeks of Thanksgiving and Christmas, and at the end of Spring semester. I can always do a make-up on another day if I have the time, but these days are guaranteed available for make ups.

Students know that they get 17 lessons per semester. They pay to receive those 17 lessons. If they are unable to call to cancel 24 hours in advance, or unable to swap with another student when a scheduling conflict arises, then they do not receive a make up. I make exceptions, however, if a student is sick. I had a sick student show up for voice lessons yesterday, and I sent her home. She drove herself and she is very dedicated to singing, but it would not have been productive. I'll reschedule her for another day, no problem.
_________________________
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#1277174 - 09/29/09 09:28 AM Re: Charging per lesson vs. per month [Re: John v.d.Brook]
keystring Online   content
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I have been wondering about this one part for a year - Why do some of you create invoices? Your students are regular and know the amount, and are capable of paying you without receiving a bill - so what is the reason for this extra work?

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#1277179 - 09/29/09 09:37 AM Re: Charging per lesson vs. per month [Re: keystring]
Morodiene Offline
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Originally Posted By: keystring
I have been wondering about this one part for a year - Why do some of you create invoices? Your students are regular and know the amount, and are capable of paying you without receiving a bill - so what is the reason for this extra work?

The same could be said of your car payment or any other bill where the amount doesn't change. And yet, they send out statements as well. It is a reminder of when to pay, not necessarily what. Although sometimes a book was given or something that is owed for in addition to lessons.
_________________________
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Petrof 9'2 Concert, Yamaha G3, Roland FP-7, Yamaha MOX6, Kawai MP11

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#1277180 - 09/29/09 09:42 AM Re: Charging per lesson vs. per month [Re: Morodiene]
John v.d.Brook Offline
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KS, part may be due to perceptions. People perceive that professions behave one way, non-professionals another. That doesn't make it so, but it's the way a lot of people operate.
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#1277186 - 09/29/09 09:58 AM Re: Charging per lesson vs. per month [Re: keystring]
Lollipop Offline
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Loc: Georgia
I've tried everything. At first, I charged by the week. Some parents preferred to pay for the whole month, which was fine. The problem I had was being paid for missed lessons. Students/parents were much more casual about not coming to a lesson if something came up, and then balked at paying for it. It was something I battled almost weekly with one student or another.

Then I switched to a monthly fee, and ran into the parents who wanted discounts for short months, etc.

I just switched this year to a semester fee, payable in 4 equal payments at the beginning of each month. A fourth of my students chose to pay for the whole semester, the others pay monthly.

I am prepared for a few problems, because this is new. So far, though, everyone seems to be on board. In an effort to ward off problems, I spelled it out in detail in my letter/policy.

The semester fee covers 15 lessons, and comes out to a certain amount / week, assuming the student comes to every lesson. (I do allow some make-ups.) It it NOT equal to the number of weeks in any given month. This has been a stumbling block for some.

For those who have given me an email address (which, in my studio is all except one) I send out a monthly newsletter. I send it out at the end of each month, and the opening statement is a reminder that payment is due the following week for those who are paying monthly. (About a quarter of my students paid for the whole semester at once.) For the one student who does not have email, I write in her assignment book when tuition is due. Her mother's English is not good, and it is easier to do this than try to get her to understand that she owes me more when it is late.
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#1277196 - 09/29/09 10:14 AM Re: Charging per lesson vs. per month [Re: John v.d.Brook]
keystring Online   content
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John, I'm not sure that I understand what you are saying. Are you saying that you write invoices in the belief that people will perceive you as a professional because they are getting an invoice - psychology? That is a new thought to me. I thought you might say that your accountant or the tax folk prefer it for transparency, or something of that nature. Or that it helps a client remember. But the psychology factor makes some sense. For example, people associate the trappings of businesses with being 'real'. Thus someone will go to an agency which has an office and secretary to get a translation because if there is an office and secretary, they must be real. The agency contacts me, I do the translation, and they hand it over to the client who has to pay a lot more. If they went to me directly they'd save a bundle and get exactly the same service but without the office ... same deal as your invoices. The psychology of appearances.

For me as a student, a professional teacher is one who understands what he is teaching and how to teach it, and can demonstrate it. Being punctual, prepared, and organized would go into it. Invoices wouldn't. But I suppose for some people these trappings make a difference - an interesting thought.

It just seems an awful lot of work if it's not necessary.

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#1277201 - 09/29/09 10:21 AM Re: Charging per lesson vs. per month [Re: keystring]
kevinb Offline
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Originally Posted By: keystring

It just seems an awful lot of work if it's not necessary.


If you're using software to do your book-keeping it's probably not much extra work. Some people need official invoices for tax purposes; some people just like them for their own records. But I suspect that, as you say, for most people it's just a perception thing. Your accountant invoices you, but your babysitter doesn't.

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#1277215 - 09/29/09 10:50 AM Re: Charging per lesson vs. per month [Re: keystring]
dumdumdiddle Offline
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Registered: 09/16/06
Posts: 1265
Loc: California
Originally Posted By: keystring
I have been wondering about this one part for a year - Why do some of you create invoices? Your students are regular and know the amount, and are capable of paying you without receiving a bill - so what is the reason for this extra work?



I've wondered this myself. I know there was a brief discussion about his on another thread a while back. I could see if students were paying based on how many lessons they received that month, and the figure would change from month to month. But when the fee is exactly the same each month I don't see the need to send out an invoice.

Now, for NEW students who may not be used to the regularity of writing out a monthly check, I will send out an email at the end of the month that states: "Just a reminder that tuition for October is due next week. Please refer to your Studio Policy for more detailed information".


Regarding students paying for the year's tuition up front:

I usually have anywhere from 10-20% of my students pay for the entire year's tuition in advance. They do receive a small discount for doing so, but most parents pay this way because of convenience of not having to worry about writing that monthly check. Also, these are typically students who I've had for a long time; they know me well and trust that I'm not going to go out of business and leave them hanging in the middle of the year.
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#1277221 - 09/29/09 10:57 AM Re: Charging per lesson vs. per month [Re: kevinb]
keystring Online   content
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Quote:
Your accountant invoices you, but your babysitter doesn't.

Actually, my accountant doesn't. wink And I often don't. Businesses need invoices from me, but private clients usually don't. What prompted the question in the first place is that I've been reading how time consuming the monthly payment process is, which is why some teachers give a discount for seasonal payments. Given that private teachers have the same students paying the same amount each month, I wondered why that would be. Invoicing involves printing out the invoice, mailing it out to 150 people (John's number), possibly marking the invoice as paid. That would have to take at least an hour a month - if it's not necessary, why do it? That is, if it's only for appearances and impressions. Has anyone ever checked whether this impression of professionalism via invoices is true? I've also been learning from this thread, which is why from time to time a question will pop up.

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#1277241 - 09/29/09 11:40 AM Re: Charging per lesson vs. per month [Re: keystring]
John v.d.Brook Offline
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KS, I am merely pointing out that many people have perceptions. A lot of parents know nothing about lessons, preparations, what teachers do behind the scenes, public or private (even some public school teachers think piano teachers do nothing behind the scenes). Invoicing is one of those signals of being professional.

However, you should know that there are many split families, where child support calls for one parent to pay for lessons, even though the child is in custody of the other parent. Invoices are called for by the courts to solve payment disputes. Had one of these last fall, BTW.

Also, if you are keeping computerized books for tax purposes, preparing invoices is very little extra effort. And it allows you to keep track of other incidentals, like fees for Guild auditions, new music books, recital entrance fees, etc.
_________________________
"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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#1277245 - 09/29/09 11:47 AM Re: Charging per lesson vs. per month [Re: John v.d.Brook]
keystring Online   content
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Thank you, John. That makes sense.

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#1277251 - 09/29/09 11:58 AM Re: Charging per lesson vs. per month [Re: Morodiene]
Mrs.A Offline
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Registered: 04/15/09
Posts: 155
I charge a monthly TUITION and I call it that (I think a semester or quarterly fee is also a good idea) Gymnastics, Dance and Martial Arts charge similar monthly fees in this area.

The additional advantages to monthly tuition fees over weekly fees:

1.If a student misses they have ALREADY paid for the lesson. If they pay weekly and miss a lesson, asking them to pay for that lesson could be awkward.

2. I believe paying ahead also cuts down on cancellations. When I used to allows reschedules I found that not only did I have an open spot (and paying a babysitter) but I spent 15 minutes on the phone rescheduling and then used up another lesson spot. One cancellation costs a lot in time. If lessons are 30 minutes, you now are eating up an hour and 15 minutes to accommodate that student. Even if you fill the students cancelled spot you spend another 15 minutes with the next rescheduled student…..Missed lessons, in my studio, are for the most part forfeited

3. Writing payments and check numbers in my record books every week is time that should be spent on teaching. I find it much more efficient to take payments the first week of the month.

4. I include all the books and music in the tuition payment. My families appreciate that fixed expense every month. They prefer once a month rather then having the cash or writing a check every week.

5. Like Ebony said, fewer trips to the bank. I probable collect 25 checks a month. Collecting that many payments weekly is a lot of work.

My monthly fee remains the same regardless of four or five weeks in a month. I also take off 4 holidays during the year and do not prorate those months. Those holidays are compensated when I teach a five week month.

I also add extra lessons for students who are preparing for auditions or recitals. I don’t charge for those. I may tell a student to practice the triplet and come back on Sunday afternoon. I am very busy before big events but I do not charge for the extra lessons.

I rarely have complaints about how I handle my tuition charge. Parents appreciate the simplicity and it makes my job easier. I can concentrate on teaching.

Even if it is typical of the teachers to charge weekly in your area, why not do it different? It will help you stand out. Good luck.
_________________________
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#1277252 - 09/29/09 12:01 PM Re: Charging per lesson vs. per month [Re: keystring]
Hop Offline
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Registered: 01/24/08
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Loc: Hudson, FL
The fellow who is my new teacher charges by the month. It is the same amount every month, due on the last week of every month for the following month. No makeups.

He also states that he will take two non-consecutive weeks vacation every year.

At first, I found this a little off-putting. But upon reflection, I figured that in the final analysis, I'd pay about the same anyway. At least this is simple for everybody, and allows him a steady income (which is a benefit to me because he is likely to be happier and stay in business longer).

Hop
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#1277271 - 09/29/09 12:28 PM Re: Charging per lesson vs. per month [Re: Mrs.A]
Mrs.A Offline
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Registered: 04/15/09
Posts: 155
Keystring,

I keep my tuition statements easy. My tuition is the same every month. I do not charge extra for books. The books and materials are included in the tuition.

My statements are set up in my computer. The only thing I do is change the date on the template. I mail merge addresses and press print. Walla

I mail them in a windowed envelope (Addresses are printed on the statement)

It is very easy and not time consuming. It allows me to also send a newsletter reminding parents of upcoming events. I have 20 or so newsletters I have been recycling for years. Also very easy.

I agree. Some parents need reminding that I am a business. When a statement is sent in the mail, I find tuition payment is written with the rest of the bills. Since sending tuition statement, I have less problem with people remembering to pay. It works for me.


I also have every intention of putting taxes etc on one computer program. Every year my accountant suggest it. I just havn't done it yet.
_________________________
Piano Teacher.
Church Music Director.
Kindermusik Instructor.
Mom to four boys.


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#1277274 - 09/29/09 12:30 PM Re: Charging per lesson vs. per month [Re: John v.d.Brook]
Mrs.A Offline
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Registered: 04/15/09
Posts: 155
Originally Posted By: John v.d.Brook




Also, if you are keeping computerized books for tax purposes, preparing invoices is very little extra effort. And it allows you to keep track of other incidentals, like fees for Guild auditions, new music books, recital entrance fees, etc.


John, What computer/tax program do you use?
_________________________
Piano Teacher.
Church Music Director.
Kindermusik Instructor.
Mom to four boys.


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#1277313 - 09/29/09 01:15 PM Re: Charging per lesson vs. per month [Re: Mrs.A]
Betty Patnude Offline
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Registered: 06/11/07
Posts: 4896
Loc: Puyallup, Washington
I don't use this service for my students but I have long admired the "Music Teacher's Helper" site.

1) Your students can make their payments there,
2) You can have your own website there.
3) There is just a lot of good things going on at MTH.

Please take a look and see the possibilities for yourself.

My tuition fees and studio policies have been subject to my postings many time in PWF - perhaps some "search" would take you to things I have contributed. I think I have my "act" down to a "science" in the policy and tuition fees and operating my music education business. That is not to brag, but to state that life got a lot easier when I got organized about how I wanted to operate and communicate that to the clients.

I wish everyone good luck in getting their recordkeeping and their trips to the bank to a minimum. It used to be very time consuming for me not to mention erroneous at times. You want to be ahead of the game, not trying to catch up from behind.

Establish some pertinent rules that you need to have. I think over all piano teachers can be timid in asking for what they need. You need a good and consistent income distributed over 12 months of the year.

If you don't have the money income totally meeting your needs you will be pleading with your clients to make their payments from now until the end of your piano teaching life.

The utility companies and the mortgage companies don't take your problems with receiving your incomes from your clients under consideration. Best to have money in the bank beforehand not after. Get the money thing under control by taking a stand on your policy and tuition fees even write a contract if you need to. With this out of the way you can now concentrate on your giving good service and maximizing your teaching abilities.

A piano teacher having financial problems is not compatabile with spending your time where it is needed most, in guidance of your students musical progress. Can't be in two places at once!

Time is of the essence!

Betty

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#1277321 - 09/29/09 01:23 PM Re: Charging per lesson vs. per month [Re: keystring]
kevinb Offline
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Registered: 09/18/09
Posts: 1565
Originally Posted By: keystring
Has anyone ever checked whether this impression of professionalism via invoices is true?


To be honest, I'm not sure how one would test such a thing. Neither my kids' teachers nor mine issue invoices, but I'm a musician (of sorts :)) myself so I don't need this reassurance to know they're doing a decent job. Perhaps people who aren't particularly musical need it more? Dunno, really.

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#1277340 - 09/29/09 01:47 PM Re: Charging per lesson vs. per month [Re: kevinb]
John v.d.Brook Offline
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Registered: 03/18/06
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Another aspect to think about - some, perhaps many, families are pushing the envelop when it comes to their finances. Bills are prioritized. Professional looking statements get paid sooner than those which are not. If you use a billing service, which incorporates a late payment fee, your pay will be steady and on time. Your mortgage/rent, utilities, food, etc., must be paid whether Johnnie comes to a lesson or not. If you're product is set up like a school, college, class, etc., you're going to be paid. If you collect lesson fees when Suzie shows up at the door, you're income is going to take a severe hit.

Long time teachers have been down this well-worn path; there is no need for anyone to reinvent the wheel. Your predecessors have learned the hard way. You can believe us or not. You can pick up any of the many college texts on pedagogy, and read the same thing. This is a free country and the choice is yours.
_________________________
"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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#1277375 - 09/29/09 02:36 PM Re: Charging per lesson vs. per month [Re: kevinb]
Betty Patnude Offline
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Registered: 06/11/07
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Kevin B said in the posting above John's:

"Perhaps people who aren't particularly musical need it more?"

Whoa, Kevin. My brain immediately said to me:

"Perhaps people who aren't particularly musical should not be teaching at all!"

"Caveat emptor" - Buyer Beware!

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#1277398 - 09/29/09 03:11 PM Re: Charging per lesson vs. per month [Re: Betty Patnude]
kevinb Offline
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Originally Posted By: Betty Patnude
Kevin B said in the posting above John's:

"Perhaps people who aren't particularly musical need it more?"

Whoa, Kevin. My brain immediately said to me:

"Perhaps people who aren't particularly musical should not be teaching at all!"


Um... I was referring to a lack of musicality in the recipients of the invoices, e.g., the parents of your students.

Although I've suggested some mad things in the past, a career in music teaching for a person with no musical talent would be a crazy notion, even for me smirk

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#1277421 - 09/29/09 03:55 PM Re: Charging per lesson vs. per month [Re: Betty Patnude]
Monica K. Offline

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Registered: 08/10/05
Posts: 17777
Loc: Lexington, Kentucky
Originally Posted By: Betty Patnude

My tuition fees and studio policies have been subject to my postings many time in PWF - perhaps some "search" would take you to things I have contributed. I think I have my "act" down to a "science" in the policy and tuition fees and operating my music education business. That is not to brag, but to state that life got a lot easier when I got organized about how I wanted to operate and communicate that to the clients.


I always thought this thread was a classic:

"Can of Worms" thread

What did you ever end up deciding to do, Betty? Did you ever institute that "commit to a year's lessons in advance" policy? Did it work for you?

It's actually an enlightening thread as it highlights the tension that exists between what teachers want and need vs. what parents/students want and need, and how it's important to take both sides into account.

As a parent, I'm happier if I can pay monthly than having to write a check for each lesson. (I'd even welcome a semester system just so that I don't have to keep writing multiple checks.) I do appreciate being able to send my checks in with my daughter on the first lesson of the month, rather than having to mail it by the 1st. But I should stress that my daughter's teacher is the one who proposed that system, and I would have gone along with anything she suggested--short of paying a year in advance. wink
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#1277422 - 09/29/09 03:56 PM Re: Charging per lesson vs. per month [Re: kevinb]
Betty Patnude Offline
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Registered: 06/11/07
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Loc: Puyallup, Washington
Kevin B,

I guess I responded to how I understood it. Sorry about that.

Kevin B said: "Um... I was referring to a lack of musicality in the recipients of the invoices, e.g., the parents of your students.

Although I've suggested some mad things in the past, a career in music teaching for a person with no musical talent would be a crazy notion, even for me"


Exactly what I was trying to say! But, I think we both suspect it's being done.

Betty

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#1277465 - 09/29/09 05:03 PM Re: Charging per lesson vs. per month [Re: Monica K.]
Betty Patnude Offline
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Registered: 06/11/07
Posts: 4896
Loc: Puyallup, Washington
Originally Posted By: Monica K.
Originally Posted By: Betty Patnude

My tuition fees and studio policies have been subject to my postings many time in PWF - perhaps some "search" would take you to things I have contributed. I think I have my "act" down to a "science" in the policy and tuition fees and operating my music education business. That is not to brag, but to state that life got a lot easier when I got organized about how I wanted to operate and communicate that to the clients.


I always thought this thread was a classic:

"Can of Worms" thread

What did you ever end up deciding to do, Betty? Did you ever institute that "commit to a year's lessons in advance" policy? Did it work for you?

It's actually an enlightening thread as it highlights the tension that exists between what teachers want and need vs. what parents/students want and need, and how it's important to take both sides into account.

As a parent, I'm happier if I can pay monthly than having to write a check for each lesson. (I'd even welcome a semester system just so that I don't have to keep writing multiple checks.) I do appreciate being able to send my checks in with my daughter on the first lesson of the month, rather than having to mail it by the 1st. But I should stress that my daughter's teacher is the one who proposed that system, and I would have gone along with anything she suggested--short of paying a year in advance. wink


The year $ in advance was never my intention, Monica. It was the commitment to enter and stay in piano study for one year. I have long had people pay me by the year, semester or monthly for 10 consecutive payments.

I wrote that topic at a time when with September lessons just having started, about 10 people left my studio with no notice although they signed that they would give me "30 day notice to terminate".

In review of that time, the majority of people were being impacted by job changes, homes being repossessed, and by the high cost of gasoline. Many of my students were coming from a distance making their travel time about 45 minutes each way. So, these were necessary adjustments on their parts, possibly really big reactions too, toward their new budgets that were being redone because of the announced turn in the economy.

I happen to think it was a health topic and forum for things that we have to consider every day in our studios.

It continues on to be a "can of worms" as we can see by those posting today with similar questions about what will the public tolerate.

I think it's almost hilarious that you bring this specific topic back up for review - I got through reading 2 pages of it - and my take on it is it's real, authentic in my life, and a subject for piano teachers every where.

I stand "proud" on this topic.

Chris was talking about my "young" age 65 at the time. Well, I'm 66 years old now, Monica, and the "problems" of piano teachers in business are still the problems that I faced when I was a starting piano teacher at the age of 27. The problems remain the same. I'm an ambitious teacher, but NEVER have I earned money ambitiously in piano teaching.

Now that I'm experiencing senior citizenship and prescription expenses at their highest, I wish I had gone for the money. Lord knows I have worked hard for it! It is not about income for me, it is about giving successful results in music educations.

Everyone, please read "Can of Worms" again - it's a novel in the making! And it will make you ROFL according to Monica.

By the way, Monica, did you find any typo's or misspellings. I want to be the first one to know.

Betty


Edited by Betty Patnude (09/29/09 05:10 PM)

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#1277471 - 09/29/09 05:11 PM Re: Charging per lesson vs. per month [Re: Betty Patnude]
bitWrangler Offline
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Registered: 03/14/07
Posts: 1789
Loc: Central TX
Originally Posted By: Betty Patnude
I wrote that topic at a time when with September lessons just having started, about 10 people left my studio with no notice although they signed that they would give me "30 day notice to terminate".


Can't remember if this has been mentioned before in this thread but Betty's situation is the poster child for why it's a good idea to have folks always pay for their "last month" in advance (i.e. when they start at the studio the "first" payment is a combination of the first months payment plus the "last" months payment). In this way, even if they don't give 30days notice, the teacher is not out the money.

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#1277576 - 09/29/09 08:44 PM Re: Charging per lesson vs. per month [Re: Ebony and Ivory]
Dorrie Offline
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Registered: 12/09/05
Posts: 438
As a parent and student I dislike having to pay by the lesson - on top of everything else I have to remember to send the child into the lessons with a check each week

I like the same payment each month, especially if there is no reminder invoice.

I like the option to pay by the semester - a small discount - even a percent or two is welcome, but I often opt for this even without a discount to avoid having to remember each month.

I appreciate a periodic account statement. One of our teachers has performance committments that require rescheduling lessons at least once a month. Her statements indicate whether the lesson was given, whether the student cancelled (no make up), whether it was rescheduled, or whether the teacher cancelled. These "owed" lessons are listed on the account statement. Putting it in writing quickly clears up any misunderstandings.

My preference is for emailed statements the week before payment is expected.

Most parents and students want to comply with the financial requirements of the teaching relationship. It's great that you are putting the effort out to make it easy for us to remember to do so!

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#1277584 - 09/29/09 09:02 PM Re: Charging per lesson vs. per month [Re: Dorrie]
PianoKitty Offline
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Registered: 02/28/09
Posts: 133
Loc: US
I want to clarify that I send out invoices once a month, for the total number of lessons in the upcoming month. I would go crazy getting checks every week LOL! I like having the students pay up front for the next month, so I'm not having to haggle over missed lessons. I also include any book fees or recital fees in the invoices.

However, I get so bogged down at invoice time (this week!) that I am leaning more and more toward calculating all of the Monday (T,W,Th,F) lessons in a year, minus vacations/holidays, and separating it into 4 installments for the year. It would be sooo much easier. Although I would still have to deal with getting books paid for as well. And recital payments.

On the issue of invoices and professionalism, I have actually had several parents comment on how professional my business is, and many of them have mentioned receiving the itemized invoices as part of that professional perception.
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#1277608 - 09/29/09 09:51 PM Re: Charging per lesson vs. per month [Re: Monica K.]
Mrs.A Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/15/09
Posts: 155
Originally Posted By: Monica K.
Originally Posted By: Betty Patnude

My tuition fees and studio policies have been subject to my postings many time in PWF - perhaps some "search" would take you to things I have contributed. I think I have my "act" down to a "science" in the policy and tuition fees and operating my music education business. That is not to brag, but to state that life got a lot easier when I got organized about how I wanted to operate and communicate that to the clients.


I always thought this thread was a classic:

"Can of Worms" thread

What did you ever end up deciding to do, Betty? Did you ever institute that "commit to a year's lessons in advance" policy? Did it work for you?

It's actually an enlightening thread as it highlights the tension that exists between what teachers want and need vs. what parents/students want and need, and how it's important to take both sides into account.

As a parent, I'm happier if I can pay monthly than having to write a check for each lesson. (I'd even welcome a semester system just so that I don't have to keep writing multiple checks.) I do appreciate being able to send my checks in with my daughter on the first lesson of the month, rather than having to mail it by the 1st. But I should stress that my daughter's teacher is the one who proposed that system, and I would have gone along with anything she suggested--short of paying a year in advance. wink
_________________________
Piano Teacher.
Church Music Director.
Kindermusik Instructor.
Mom to four boys.


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#1277609 - 09/29/09 09:52 PM Re: Charging per lesson vs. per month [Re: Mrs.A]
Mrs.A Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/15/09
Posts: 155
Originally Posted By: Mrs.A
Originally Posted By: Monica K.
Originally Posted By: Betty Patnude

My tuition fees and studio policies have been subject to my postings many time in PWF - perhaps some "search" would take you to things I have contributed. I think I have my "act" down to a "science" in the policy and tuition fees and operating my music education business. That is not to brag, but to state that life got a lot easier when I got organized about how I wanted to operate and communicate that to the clients.


I always thought this thread was a classic:

"Can of Worms" thread

What did you ever end up deciding to do, Betty? Did you ever institute that "commit to a year's lessons in advance" policy? Did it work for you?

It's actually an enlightening thread as it highlights the tension that exists between what teachers want and need vs. what parents/students want and need, and how it's important to take both sides into account.

As a parent, I'm happier if I can pay monthly than having to write a check for each lesson. (I'd even welcome a semester system just so that I don't have to keep writing multiple checks.) I do appreciate being able to send my checks in with my daughter on the first lesson of the month, rather than having to mail it by the 1st. But I should stress that my daughter's teacher is the one who proposed that system, and I would have gone along with anything she suggested--short of paying a year in advance. wink




I don’t know what this response is about. It seems to happen often from this poster.

Betty, I find your knowledge, instincts and experience you share on this forum to be very insightful. You are obviously very good at what you do. Please continue. I have learned much from your posts and always look forward to reading them.
_________________________
Piano Teacher.
Church Music Director.
Kindermusik Instructor.
Mom to four boys.


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#1277651 - 09/29/09 11:23 PM Re: Charging per lesson vs. per month [Re: Mrs.A]
trillingadventurer Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/28/08
Posts: 304
Loc: San Diego
I just experienced my first "bounced" check from a client. It was a nightmare of fees and embarrassment (Both sides as it caused some mishaps on my end as well. Boo!) I am starting to see the wisdom of semester or quarterly billing. It reduces the chances of such terrible occurrences!..I am nervous of "switching" everybody, however...maybe after summer break?
_________________________
M. Katchur

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#1277652 - 09/29/09 11:24 PM Re: Charging per lesson vs. per month [Re: Mrs.A]
Betty Patnude Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/11/07
Posts: 4896
Loc: Puyallup, Washington
Thank you, Mrs. A for your vote of confidence.

It means a lot to me that piano teachers can translate my postings into something helpful to them. That's one of the reasons I'm here - to gain more information and to share - the give and take of creating topics that we can learn from each other!

Betty

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#1277654 - 09/29/09 11:24 PM Re: Charging per lesson vs. per month [Re: trillingadventurer]
trillingadventurer Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/28/08
Posts: 304
Loc: San Diego
Second the opinion of Betty. She has it down!
_________________________
M. Katchur

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#1277831 - 09/30/09 09:51 AM Re: Charging per lesson vs. per month [Re: PianoKitty]
Morodiene Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 11898
Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
Originally Posted By: PianoKitty
I want to clarify that I send out invoices once a month, for the total number of lessons in the upcoming month. I would go crazy getting checks every week LOL! I like having the students pay up front for the next month, so I'm not having to haggle over missed lessons. I also include any book fees or recital fees in the invoices.

However, I get so bogged down at invoice time (this week!) that I am leaning more and more toward calculating all of the Monday (T,W,Th,F) lessons in a year, minus vacations/holidays, and separating it into 4 installments for the year. It would be sooo much easier. Although I would still have to deal with getting books paid for as well. And recital payments.

On the issue of invoices and professionalism, I have actually had several parents comment on how professional my business is, and many of them have mentioned receiving the itemized invoices as part of that professional perception.


How do you do invoices? By hand, or do you use Quickbooks or a similar business accounting program?
_________________________
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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#1277865 - 09/30/09 11:04 AM Re: Charging per lesson vs. per month [Re: Morodiene]
John v.d.Brook Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7366
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
Morodiene, someone asked a bit back, and I never got around to answering, but I use a spreadsheet program which I've customized. I've used the same program for 15 years now, although Microsoft is making it harder to do so. I started fooling around with computers back in the late 80's, and found that it really helped with record keeping and streamlining documents.

Many of you are not old enough to remember WordPerfect, but it was designed for office workers by office workers, not by computer geeks in Redmond, so it was very friendly to us. MSWord "adopted" a lot of their features, but not all. IMHO, WP is still far easier to use.

Be that as it may, when checks come in, I record them on a page of the spreed sheet, and it automatically updates the amount due on each student's invoice page.

Many of the accounting programs are very good, but are not designed for very small businesses like ours. There is a software program out there just for us, but it's pricey and regretfully, I cannot tell you it's name. Just cannot remember. It does manage all your studio business, however, and if I were starting out fresh, it would be my program of choice.
_________________________
"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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#1277874 - 09/30/09 11:14 AM Re: Charging per lesson vs. per month [Re: John v.d.Brook]
keystring Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11674
Loc: Canada
Excel?

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#1277895 - 09/30/09 11:40 AM Re: Charging per lesson vs. per month [Re: keystring]
bitWrangler Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/14/07
Posts: 1789
Loc: Central TX
Originally Posted By: keystring
Excel?


Since he confessed his love of WordPerfect, I would guess that he still uses Lotus 123, probably running on an IBM AT and PC-DOS 3.3.

I was always a M$ Word guy myself, pseudo WYSIWYG and styles, woot!

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#1277899 - 09/30/09 11:45 AM Re: Charging per lesson vs. per month [Re: John v.d.Brook]
Monica K. Offline

Platinum Supporter until Dec 31 2012


Registered: 08/10/05
Posts: 17777
Loc: Lexington, Kentucky
Originally Posted By: John v.d.Brook
Many of you are not old enough to remember WordPerfect, but it was designed for office workers by office workers, not by computer geeks in Redmond, so it was very friendly to us. MSWord "adopted" a lot of their features, but not all. IMHO, WP is still far easier to use.


John, I am a diehard WordPerfect fan heart and will only stop using it when they pry my keyboard out of my cold, dead fingers. grin

What I particularly like about WordPerfect is the "reveal codes" option which lets you see exactly where that stray 'indent' or 'font' command is that's messing up your document. Trying to troubleshoot those things in Word is a nightmare.
_________________________
Mason & Hamlin A -- 91997
My YouTube channel: http://www.youtube.com/pianomonica

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#1277918 - 09/30/09 12:05 PM Re: Charging per lesson vs. per month [Re: bitWrangler]
John v.d.Brook Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7366
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
Originally Posted By: bitWrangler
Originally Posted By: keystring
Excel?


Since he confessed his love of WordPerfect, I would guess that he still uses Lotus 123, probably running on an IBM AT and PC-DOS 3.3.

I was always a M$ Word guy myself, pseudo WYSIWYG and styles, woot!


No, the spreadsheet program in WP is QuattroPro, and I'm using version 8, which was the last good version, on XP.
_________________________
"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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#1278043 - 09/30/09 02:52 PM Re: Charging per lesson vs. per month [Re: Morodiene]
PianoKitty Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/28/09
Posts: 133
Loc: US
Originally Posted By: Morodiene
Originally Posted By: PianoKitty
I want to clarify that I send out invoices once a month, for the total number of lessons in the upcoming month. I would go crazy getting checks every week LOL! I like having the students pay up front for the next month, so I'm not having to haggle over missed lessons. I also include any book fees or recital fees in the invoices.

However, I get so bogged down at invoice time (this week!) that I am leaning more and more toward calculating all of the Monday (T,W,Th,F) lessons in a year, minus vacations/holidays, and separating it into 4 installments for the year. It would be sooo much easier. Although I would still have to deal with getting books paid for as well. And recital payments.

On the issue of invoices and professionalism, I have actually had several parents comment on how professional my business is, and many of them have mentioned receiving the itemized invoices as part of that professional perception.


How do you do invoices? By hand, or do you use Quickbooks or a similar business accounting program?


I actually use Word LOL...probably not very efficient! I list out the dates of the lessons for the upcoming months, any credits or overages on the account, any books the student received or are owed, etc. I have to do one of these for each student at the end of each month. I do them by day, so I don't have to constantly change the dates (for example, all Tuesday students in October will have the same lesson dates, so I do all Tuesday students at once, and all I have to do is change the student name and books owed, or miscellaneous things).

I hope that makes sense. I just started doing invoices about 8 months ago so I'm sure there's a much better, more efficient way to do it! I do find that people enjoy seeing all of the charges listed out and itemized each month, so I want to continue doing them in some form (even if I switch to installments next year), but I think I need a new program!
_________________________
Private Piano Instructor
Member, Music Teachers National Association (MTNA)

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#1278254 - 09/30/09 09:43 PM Re: Charging per lesson vs. per month [Re: PianoKitty]
Morodiene Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

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


I actually use Word LOL...probably not very efficient! I list out the dates of the lessons for the upcoming months, any credits or overages on the account, any books the student received or are owed, etc. I have to do one of these for each student at the end of each month. I do them by day, so I don't have to constantly change the dates (for example, all Tuesday students in October will have the same lesson dates, so I do all Tuesday students at once, and all I have to do is change the student name and books owed, or miscellaneous things).

I hope that makes sense. I just started doing invoices about 8 months ago so I'm sure there's a much better, more efficient way to do it! I do find that people enjoy seeing all of the charges listed out and itemized each month, so I want to continue doing them in some form (even if I switch to installments next year), but I think I need a new program!


With Quickbooks (or other similar software) you don't have to really do a lot of inputting or math. You simply select your item to charge (i.e., if you charge for 1/2 hour lessons, you can have that rate set in there so when you select this it will come up). Then either email or print from there. If the student has an overage or underpayment (which is not common), then you can print a statement which you can choose to show all charges and payments received within a given set of dates.

Billing takes me about an hour, tops, but that is because I was emailing invoices for the first time and was customizing the email for each. Probably next month it will take less time. Currently, about 70% of my families pay monthly, and my fee is slightly more to help cover the extra time it takes for paperwork (by about $20 per student over the semester).
_________________________
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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#1278290 - 09/30/09 11:03 PM Re: Charging per lesson vs. per month [Re: Morodiene]
PianoKitty Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/28/09
Posts: 133
Loc: US
How much is Quickbooks? That sounds great! Much better than my system LOL.
_________________________
Private Piano Instructor
Member, Music Teachers National Association (MTNA)

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#1278702 - 10/01/09 01:51 PM Re: Charging per lesson vs. per month [Re: PianoKitty]
MsAdrienne Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/24/06
Posts: 283
Loc: Lexington, Kentucky
Did anyone else mention 3rd-party billing? There's a company that does this just for music teachers. I raised my rates 4% (the amount the company keeps for admin.) and receive the same tuition that I did before the switch. My students pay monthly or quarterly by credit card or direct debit. I get paid every month on the 15th by direct deposit. grin

When I started using this service in 2003, I only lost one student, but they didn't tell me the reason for leaving, so I am making an assumption. I get a statement each January for my taxes, and don't have to do any invoicing. It really frees me up to focus on the students. My parents like it, too, at least they claim to! wink
_________________________
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Member MTNA, NGPT Board of Adjudicators
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http://www.facebook.com/pianolex

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#1278737 - 10/01/09 02:53 PM Re: Charging per lesson vs. per month [Re: MsAdrienne]
Joe H. Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 09/13/09
Posts: 11
What's the name of the company?

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#1278752 - 10/01/09 03:22 PM Re: Charging per lesson vs. per month [Re: Joe H.]
Morodiene Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 11898
Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
Paypal has an option for people to pay monthly recurring payments as well.
_________________________
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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#1278774 - 10/01/09 04:08 PM Re: Charging per lesson vs. per month [Re: Morodiene]
MsAdrienne Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/24/06
Posts: 283
Loc: Lexington, Kentucky
PianoKitty and Joe H.: It's called Music Business Solutions (MuBuS) and it's at mubus.com. It is owned and operated by music teachers who came up with the concept. I can let them be the "bad guys" regarding the 30-day notice, or I can handle issues myself if I'd rather. It's been such a relief to not deal with invoices any more. It takes that aspect of managing the studio off my shoulders. It's only $2 a month, plus they keep 4% of the tuition, so they recommend a tuition increase of 4 or 5% when you join if you'd like to keep your income level the same (well, of course!).
_________________________
Private piano teacher in Lexington, Kentucky
Member MTNA, NGPT Board of Adjudicators
http://www.pianolex.com
http://www.facebook.com/pianolex

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#1280463 - 10/04/09 10:48 AM Re: Charging per lesson vs. per month [Re: Nikolas]
musiclady Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/19/05
Posts: 431
Loc: Toronto, Canada
Charge per month, if you charge per lesson you will likely have people who'll want to reduce the amount they have to pay because they'll be away for a week or two.

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

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