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#1355098 - 01/21/10 09:54 PM Re: pay as you go lessons [Re: Monica K.]
R0B Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/03/08
Posts: 1439
Loc: Australia
Nguyen,

I don't fully know your circumstances, or the age of your son, but might it be possible to find a teacher, willing to come to your home at weekends?
_________________________
Rob

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#1355099 - 01/21/10 10:01 PM Re: pay as you go lessons [Re: R0B]
eweiss Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/28/09
Posts: 2393
Loc: Beautiful San Diego, CA
I'll do it for $1,000,000! And not a penny less.
_________________________
Play New Age Piano
http://www.quiescencemusic.com

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#1355117 - 01/21/10 10:32 PM Re: pay as you go lessons [Re: eweiss]
Nguyen Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/25/09
Posts: 430
Loc: Massachusetts
Originally Posted By: eweiss
I'll do it for $1,000,000! And not a penny less.
eweiss, you know I always like you ideas, but not this one. grin No, honestly, I always enjoy your sense of humor. laugh
_________________________
Nguyen - Student Pianist

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#1355126 - 01/21/10 10:41 PM Re: pay as you go lessons [Re: Nguyen]
Nguyen Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/25/09
Posts: 430
Loc: Massachusetts
Thank you Betty, Currawong, Volusiano, Lollipop, Canonie, Monica K., and R0B.

Though in disagreement, you all are very encouraging. It opens my eyes hearing both side of the arguments. I sometime post and join in the hilarious comments with others but usually not ask questions. I have thought about this for at least 2 weeks already, and fortunately saw this thread today and decided to ask. It doesn’t hurt right?

Thanks Betty. I understand your point. It makes me quit complaining and just go do it. Regarding my one hour nightly, yes, I do and with a passion too. I started last April and almost done with the Alfred Adult All-in-One Book One. I do, I really do. I can’t tell 10 years from now, but for the time being, I love Piano and practice, honestly.

Volusiano, Lollipop, your ideas and suggestions have never crossed my mind. Thanks.

Currawong, Canonie, Monica K. and Rob, you’re very encouraging. I appreciate the positive enforcements. What do down students like me do without you right? Monica, you have a great point. My son is 18 months, will grow and can probably be good at lessons in 2 years

I will do it. I will call the teacher and schedule a time to talk. I’m going to ask the 2 grandmas, hope they don’t think I’m selfish smile Asking wife isn’t a good idea. She’s trying to build her business. She’ll kick my you know what if not thinking I’m selfish and insensitive smile

Based on all your suggestions, I will scratch bi-weekly. I will commit weekly. Hopefully she’s flexible. If not, I’ll just pay for the absences or perhaps see if she knows other teachers familiar with flex schedule.

Don't know what John would say if he sees this. I wonder if he will blast me or encourage smile I know you're a great teacher Mr. Brook, and always respect your 2 cents.

Thank you,
Nguyen
_________________________
Nguyen - Student Pianist

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#1355151 - 01/21/10 11:16 PM Re: pay as you go lessons [Re: Nguyen]
Canonie Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/04/09
Posts: 1941
Loc: Australia
Nguyen, good luck on finding a great teacher that you can work well with. In fairness to John I have to point out that he did say -
Originally Posted By: John vd Brook
There are always going to be occasions where you'll want to teach a student just a few lessons, or on an infrequent basis (other than weekly). There is no reason not to do so...

If you respect a teacher's choices to offer flexibility/alternative arrangements, or not, I'm sure you can find someone who suits you. Let us know how the search goes if you like smile
_________________________

Composers manufacture a product that is universally deemed superfluous—at least until their music enters public consciousness, at which point people begin to say that they could not live without it.
Alex Ross.

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#1355191 - 01/22/10 12:04 AM Re: pay as you go lessons [Re: Canonie]
John Citron Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/15/05
Posts: 3925
Loc: Haverhill, Massachusetts
I'm one of the guilty parties that teaches on a lesson-by-lesson basis. Of course I only have two adult studetns with whom I have a great working relationship. If anyone has to cancel so be it. We're not out to set any goals unless they want to. One of my students is doing very, very well and I am impressed with his diligence at his practicing.

Just prior to the Christmas holiday, he was taking two lessons a week. This worked out for him, and we went about it with the caveat that he may or may not have the time to make the progress he was hoping to make. In the end we ended up stopping the twice a week lessons, and he's back on his regular schedule. This in part was due to my tight schedule with my upcoming audition and exams at the time. If I were to take on any new students, I would allow the flexible schedule they need since I can work out this into my schedule as well.

Given that this time of year is sketchy with the nasty New England weather, I am more than flexible with these people, particularly since I travel to their house and one of them works and travels on occasion.

Granted that this may not always work if there are more than a mere handful of students, but I work with what works for everyone.

John
_________________________
Nothing.

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#1355207 - 01/22/10 12:23 AM Re: pay as you go lessons [Re: John Citron]
R0B Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/03/08
Posts: 1439
Loc: Australia
With some students, I have to be flexible, and it is no problem for me.

For instance, I have a couple of adults, who have 'fly in, fly out' jobs, and can only take lessons in the weeks that they are home.

They fully understand that the situation is not ideal, but are learning purely for pleasure, and I am happy to fit their lessons in, when I can.
_________________________
Rob

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#1355319 - 01/22/10 06:48 AM Re: pay as you go lessons [Re: Nguyen]
Hummingbird Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/30/08
Posts: 57
Originally Posted By: Nguyen

Based on all your suggestions, I will scratch bi-weekly. I will commit weekly. Hopefully she’s flexible. If not, I’ll just pay for the absences or perhaps see if she knows other teachers familiar with flex schedule.


These teachers DO exist. I am an adult beginner, and I have one.
He mostly teaches adults, and offers a lot of flexibility because he knows that for many of us piano comes secondary to a paycheck. Some of his students, like me, take weekly lessons, but occasionally need to cancel when we are on travel or have to work long hours. As long as we give him sufficient warning he has no problem with that. But he has other students that come bi-weekly, once/month, or even just call him up when they want to go work through something with him. He only takes payment at each lesson - doesn't want the hassles of bookkeeping that go along with paying in advance.

Like you, many of us can only get our routine practice in during times most teachers aren't teaching (my daily practice is usually at around 5:30am - and then I get in a second practice session in the afternoon, but the time varies widely by day depending on my schedule). I have been able to keep my piano lesson schedule pretty well, but occasionally I've had to switch it to another day of the week. Again, no problem as long as I give advance notice.

I fully understand why most teachers do not want to work like this, and I can definitely understand why teachers might not want to have a mix of pre-paid and pay-as-you-go students. But for teachers who do offer that flexibility, it can work out very well for everyone involved.

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#1355397 - 01/22/10 09:18 AM Re: pay as you go lessons [Re: Hummingbird]
MomOfBeginners Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/03/09
Posts: 115
Loc: California, USA
It sounds like while different teachers have different levels of tolerance in schedule fluctuation, income predictability, and student commitment, there's an underlying common theme. Teachers want students to respect their time.

The policies all seem to be written to keep students from abusing flexibility. Some teachers demand a certain level of seriousness in piano study, and that's reflected in their policies. Other teachers cater to students who do not have piano as the top priority. But it does sound like just about all teachers have some level of understanding that at times, other things in life do get in the way of piano.
_________________________
Mom of Two Girls Who Used to Be Beginners

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#1355412 - 01/22/10 09:40 AM Re: pay as you go lessons [Re: Canonie]
John v.d.Brook Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7349
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
Originally Posted By: Canonie
Nguyen, good luck on finding a great teacher that you can work well with. In fairness to John I have to point out that he did say -
Originally Posted By: John vd Brook
There are always going to be occasions where you'll want to teach a student just a few lessons, or on an infrequent basis (other than weekly). There is no reason not to do so...

If you respect a teacher's choices to offer flexibility/alternative arrangements, or not, I'm sure you can find someone who suits you. Let us know how the search goes if you like smile


Nguyen, I think I may have missed something here. We were discussing parents who do not bring children to lessons regularly, and how to deal with that particular problem. Irregular lessons are a disaster for children (students) - compared with regular weekly lessons for which the child is well prepared - and teachers need some mechanism to encourage good parental behavior, or at least, constructive parental behavior.

Over the years I've been on this forum, I've discovered that quite a few adult students read our posts, which are primarily referencing how to deal with school-age student problems, and then internalize them as meaning that's how we deal with adults. And then take offense. Of course, none in meant, because we were not thinking about adults in our discourse.

Generally, most piano teachers probably have a child to adult student ratio of something like 10-1, 15-1 or 20-1. The problems we have dealing effectively with a wide range of parents and societal situations makes this a highly useful forum for discussing and solving these problems.

For adults, I charge almost exclusively by the lesson; I strongly encourage weekly lessons for those who are elementary/intermediate students. For students who have reached the advanced level, monthly lessons are fine, if that works in their schedule. Like many have pointed out, and for very obvious reasons, we cannot reserve a time-slot for a once a month student or a twice monthly student - unless you pay for it.

Good luck in your teacher search.
_________________________
"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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#1355442 - 01/22/10 10:18 AM Re: pay as you go lessons [Re: Barb860]
Sparkler Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/27/09
Posts: 177
Coming in a little late here:

I charge ahead, monthly, because my time is valuable to me and if I am reserving a section of it for someone, I would like consistency in knowing how my time will be spent. It is inconvenient when someone doesn't show up because I could have scheduled someone else in their place or scheduled something else in my life, period.

However, what I would consider doing on a case by case basis, is reserving a certain time slot, say a couple of hours on a certain day of a week, for students who have those special time needs. And then, that way I would know ahead that that time might be used, or might not be used, and I could still plan my life.

I would also feel free to be quite picky about whom I chose to give pay-as-you-go lessons to. They would have to be quite talented or just plain fun, for me to take them on that way.

I would start getting resentful as a teacher if all my students paid on a lesson by lesson basis, because that would make me feel that my skills are disposable to them. And they do not need a resentful teacher!

I have done pay as you go lessons before with some friends kids.... and was often left sitting there wasting my time waiting on them when I could have been spending my time in a much more valuable way, so that is where I'm coming from.
_________________________
Pianist
Accompanist
Piano Teacher
and best of all...
Mom!

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#1355698 - 01/22/10 05:30 PM Re: pay as you go lessons [Re: Nguyen]
saerra Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/28/07
Posts: 842
Loc: Atlanta, GA
Originally Posted By: Nguyen


Monday – Friday: Get out of work between 5/6. Pick up Son. Wife gets home a bit later so can’t fit lessons in during weekday. (Babysitter doesn’t sit much later than 6 or 6:30)

Saturday: Cleaning, mopping, laundry, babysit etc… Wife works everyday so I’m pretty much stuck with all the household chores and the kid all weekend. Of course I can fit in a lesson early but I’d have to bring son along or find a 2-hour-baby sitter + budget for sitting expenses.

Sunday: After Church, I can definitely drop him off at his Grandmas, but this isn’t always fixed. (Some Sundays they aren’t available, others, they may be out grocery shopping and whatnot).



Hi Nguyen,

I'm not a teacher - but was reading your post - I can see why it's hard to find a fixed time for lessons.

Have you thought about trying to find a teacher near your work, where you could do a 45 minute lesson during lunch (assuming you can get away for a lunch break)? That might be one way to "sneak in" your lesson time?

And... I know this doesn't solve the babysitting problem... but do you really need to mop EVERY weekend? wink I'm feeling very overbooked with my time lately too, and I've decided that, when I die, nobody is going to care how clean my house was. I don't want to live in complete ruins, of course, but I'm learning to live with a little more dirt, as a tradeoff to having more time to do things I care about.

(I'd love to get someone in once a month to scrub the floors, baseboards, bathroom and kitchen so I NEVER have to do those - not comfortable spending the money right now, but it's something else you guys might want to think about. Given how busy both you and your wife are, it might be worth the money to have more time for important stuff - family time, piano, sleep wink )

Hope you're able to get it figured out, even if it means having the grand-folks take turns watching the little one for a couple of hours once a week.

Good luck!

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#1356034 - 01/23/10 03:40 AM Re: pay as you go lessons [Re: Ann in Kentucky]
Roxy Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/19/08
Posts: 478
Loc: Whittier, Calif
I concur, with the above. Not every student who comes to you for lessons will fit with your policies and may want to change them to suit themselves. But knowing what works for you and sticking with it politely yet firmly will make you feel better about everything and not make you feel like you are being either taken advantage of or pressed into something you don't want to do. Even with questioning on fees. Every teacher charges different depending on their expertise, there is no reason to apologize if you are more expensive then someone else. Simply tell them you totally understand and they need to feel comfortable with staying within their budget and if taking from someone that is more expensive than they want to pay makes them uncomfortable or stressed they need to look for another teacher and feel comfortable with their budget other wise they won't enjoy giving their child lessons. There is nothing wrong with turning someone down nicely, and sticking to our policies, don't feel bad. We all have to do it at sometime within our teaching career.

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#1356274 - 01/23/10 12:31 PM Re: pay as you go lessons [Re: John v.d.Brook]
Nguyen Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/25/09
Posts: 430
Loc: Massachusetts
Originally Posted By: John v.d.Brook
Nguyen, I think I may have missed something here. We were discussing parents who do not bring children to lessons regularly, and how to deal with that particular problem. Irregular lessons are a disaster for children (students) - compared with regular weekly lessons for which the child is well prepared - and teachers need some mechanism to encourage good parental behavior, or at least, constructive parental behavior.

Over the years I've been on this forum, I've discovered that quite a few adult students read our posts, which are primarily referencing how to deal with school-age student problems, and then internalize them as meaning that's how we deal with adults. And then take offense. Of course, none in meant, because we were not thinking about adults in our discourse….

…Good luck in your teacher search.

Thank you, John. I’d personally like to apologize for the below misguided comment:
Originally Posted By: Nguyen
...Don't know what John would say if he sees this. I wonder if he will blast me or encourage smile I know you're a great teacher Mr. Brook, and always respect your 2 cents.

This is just my playful way of seeking your advice. You know I always respect and value your inputs John, from the very first time you gave me that method book series question advice. The above quote has not thing to do with what said or done before my original question.

I’d also like to apologize Barb860, teachers and all for taking this thread and turn it into my question. I fully understand this was created and intended to discuss the aforementioned topic related to children only, hence my question clearly states:

Originally Posted By: Nguyen
… OT but since it’s about pay, fees and all that, I thought I’d ask…

I did not internalize the children situation. My question started with OT (I understood OT as off topic, or does it mean something else?). I thought even though it’s off topic, it’s also fees and lessons related that I struggle with for awhile, was not ready to create a thread to ask it myself, and at the risk of upsetting some teachers, I asked here hoping for the best, expecting the worse.

Being in my late 30s, as you all know too well, we know, understand and have our priorities and values in check. For me personally, son’s well being comes first, then wife’s career, then my career, then piano. I do have a deep passion for music, piano in particular but I can’t argue and place it ahead any of the above mentioned. If I’m doing this and hope to make it into a career, then the order will absolutely change.

I’m not saying all this to keep finding excuses for myself. I only say it so we understand each other. And also hope that you know I’m not a teenager or twenty-something kid asking a question with a moment fire of passion and not much depth. It’s a sincere question, weighing and pondering for a lengthy period of time, looking for advices. And yes, I have gotten plenty. You all open up a whole new door and an abundance of possibilities.

Thanks saerra, one of the possibilities is he doesn’t crawl anymore, so no need for mopping every weekend. Yay, I didn’t think of that before.

I haven’t called the teacher yet, but I’ll find a way to fit a lesson in every weekend. Who said Piano is easy right? I knew that coming in, and I am determined to take it as far as I can go.

Thanks for all the advices and encouragements.

Best,
Nguyen
_________________________
Nguyen - Student Pianist

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#1356323 - 01/23/10 01:31 PM Re: pay as you go lessons [Re: Nguyen]
John v.d.Brook Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7349
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
Nguyen, thank you for your kind words. Really, you don't have to apologize. I didn't find your post offensive in any way. It's that when we write these short posts, something we say is often misconstrued when no mal-intent was meant by the poster. It happens way too often. The fact that we get hyper I think is a testimony to our dedication to piano, each in our own way!
_________________________
"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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#1356483 - 01/23/10 05:45 PM Re: pay as you go lessons [Re: John v.d.Brook]
Chris H. Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/14/05
Posts: 2893
Loc: UK.
I make my entire living from piano teaching and can tell you that I could not possibly afford to offer pay as you go lessons.

I'm sorry to say that people who want to pay by the lesson have no intention of turning up every week. If they had then they would not object to paying tuition.
_________________________
Pianist and piano teacher.

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#1356569 - 01/23/10 07:11 PM Re: pay as you go lessons [Re: Chris H.]
Nguyen Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/25/09
Posts: 430
Loc: Massachusetts
Originally Posted By: Chris H.
I make my entire living from piano teaching and can tell you that I could not possibly afford to offer pay as you go lessons.

I'm sorry to say that people who want to pay by the lesson have no intention of turning up every week. If they had then they would not object to paying tuition.

Without this thread and this kind of discussions, I think we as student don’t understand the other side of Piano lessons.

To a certain degree, I regret asking my question. Don’t get me wrong, I get all the answers I need. It’s just that it makes me sad I have to try to defend my sincerity bringing my whole life (work, wife, son and everything in between) into the discussion. I’m sure I wouldn’t be as down as I’m now if I didn’t ask. Maybe I’m not as strong as I think I am.

Now in order to prove that I’m strong and can do it, I am going to have to find and fit a teacher into my weekly schedule, even though I’m so not ready for it. Maybe this will push me and I’ll end up study with a wonderful teacher. But right now, I’m just so down... I need to let it out...

Thanks for listening,
Nguyen
_________________________
Nguyen - Student Pianist

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#1356587 - 01/23/10 07:34 PM Re: pay as you go lessons [Re: Nguyen]
Chris H. Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/14/05
Posts: 2893
Loc: UK.
Nguyen, all I meant was that I personally can't offer lessons on that basis. But I do know of plenty of teacher's who do because they teach part time or as a side line to their regular work. Some of them are very good teachers as well.

You need to find a teacher who is willing to be a little bit flexible because of the demands on your time. There will be one out there. All I would say is that you will get more for your money if you are able to get a lesson in each week. That doesn't mean it has to be the same time each week. It might just take you a few phone calls to find the right match but don't be put off by those teachers (like me) who will turn you away.

Most people will have a busy schedule and it's often a very difficult thing to fit in. If you have little time for lessons or practice then to be honest you shoudn't waste your money. But you have an interest which is evident from your posts and have said that practice time is not a problem. The only problem is when to fit the lesson in. I'm sure you can find someone to work with.
_________________________
Pianist and piano teacher.

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#1356601 - 01/23/10 08:02 PM Re: pay as you go lessons [Re: Chris H.]
Betty Patnude Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/11/07
Posts: 4896
Loc: Puyallup, Washington
I'm of the belief that we can think our ways into the situations we want in our lives by looking at the possibilites in a positive light and then deciding what it is that we can do at this time that takes us toward the goals we want.

Limbo exists when we see things negatively or don't see them objectively, or can't for some reason bring ourselves to act on what we want.

The pro's have to out weigh the con's and we must see a light at the end of the tunnel that allows us to take a small first step to making it happen.

As, I had said, I kept putting things off for myself in many ways because in a 7 member family there was always a financial consideration that came before my needs that was more important and I made that qualification myself. With what I wanted, I was in the minority, and usually the majority ruled on decisions such as what brought pleasure or significance to the most people in the family. What were the priorities?

It took me 10 years from the date of my marriage to buy a piano for myself. I bought it with the intentions to pick up where I had left off musically, to fill myself with my love of piano music, and to one day teach piano. To my good fortunes and efforts that all happened. But, for those years before I could take that step, it was a decision, nothing had changed in our financial structure, it was actually a risk and unnecessary expense (to many people's thinking)to purchase a piano at the time. However, it was of huge importance to me alone and I stepped up to the decision because I needed a piano primarily in my emotional life for the satisfaction of being a musician again and the hopes of creating a future career for myself.

So I speak of passion helping to make the decision.

Best wishes to you, Nguyen!

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#1356611 - 01/23/10 08:12 PM Re: pay as you go lessons [Re: Betty Patnude]
Elissa Milne Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/11/10
Posts: 1337
Loc: Sydney, NSW, Australia
On the topic of pay as you go lessons: I'm fine with pay-as-you-go, because my schedule over the last 4 years has meant my students have had to be flexible with me, if they wish to continue lessons with me. But pay-as-you-go with no commitment to more than one lesson at a time is different matter, and for that I charge a massive premium.

In my experience, students without a regular time slot end up taking no more than 7 lessons before they disappear into the ether from which they emerged. Sometimes it can be as few as 2 lessons before life gets too hard for them to manage a 3rd!!!

So I do understand Betty's urgings that one simply figure out what one wants from life and go for it. There is no other way to achieve goals.....
_________________________
Teacher, Composer, Writer, Speaker
Working with Hal Leonard, Alfred, Faber, and Australian Music Examination Board
Music in syllabuses by ABRSM, AMEB, Trinity Guildhall, ANZCA, NZMEB, and more
www.elissamilne.wordpress.com

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#1357025 - 01/24/10 12:10 PM Re: pay as you go lessons [Re: Chris H.]
theJourney Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/22/07
Posts: 3946
Loc: Banned
Originally Posted By: Chris H.
I make my entire living from piano teaching and can tell you that I could not possibly afford to offer pay as you go lessons.

I'm sorry to say that people who want to pay by the lesson have no intention of turning up every week. If they had then they would not object to paying tuition.


Of course I have not intention of turning up every week. We don't make appointments with each other every week, but every other week at the most frequent and each appointment is planned at the end of the lesson. Works great for adults who work and for teachers who make their living mostly from performing on the piano rather than spending 8 hours a day teaching.

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#1405249 - 03/28/10 12:01 AM Re: pay as you go lessons [Re: currawong]
Reid Burgess Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 01/28/10
Posts: 12
Loc: United States
Originally Posted By: currawong
Someone like me possibly could - I have a fairly small number of students, and mostly adults. I need them to be flexible too because I do a lot of accompanying work and we work out lesson times between us at busy times of the year. Teachers who have a full studio of children, for example, simply can't do this.


Currawong, this is an interesting arrangement. I'm curious what your teaching policy looks like, if you use one.

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#1405265 - 03/28/10 12:52 AM Re: pay as you go lessons [Re: Reid Burgess]
currawong Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/15/07
Posts: 5923
Loc: Down Under
Originally Posted By: Reid Burgess
Originally Posted By: currawong
Someone like me possibly could - I have a fairly small number of students, and mostly adults. I need them to be flexible too because I do a lot of accompanying work and we work out lesson times between us at busy times of the year. Teachers who have a full studio of children, for example, simply can't do this.
Currawong, this is an interesting arrangement. I'm curious what your teaching policy looks like, if you use one.
I have an information sheet which states expectations (and policy, I suppose) but I don't have anything to sign. If I had a full studio again as I did once, I would certainly go this way. But I'm basically working as an accompanist, with teaching on the side. Because the sort of arrangement I described in my previous post would not be ideal for younger students, with their school routine and other activities, my students are almost entirely adults.

I have never had any problems with payment, notice or any of those things teachers have a policy document to guard against - with my adult students, that is! (I've had some doozies with children... or rather, their parents. Strange that, because they're adults too smile )

I explain to potential students at the first contact how I operate, and if that is not going to suit them that's as far as it goes. Most pay by the school term (10 weeks), either all at once, or in segments. If I have a gig I usually can give them at least a week's notice and find a suitable alternative time. In return, I will accommodate their scheduling problems to do with work, overseas trips, meetings etc as long as I have sufficient notice. They are all very considerate and treat me as a professional, and I don't assume they're trying to take advantage of me. smile They also practise. Have I just been lucky? smile Perhaps.

I've had a few come and go, as most of us do, but because accompanying and coaching singers/instrumentalists is my main source of income, this doesn't bother me as it would otherwise. Most have been with me for years.
_________________________
Du holde Kunst...

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#1405514 - 03/28/10 01:11 PM Re: pay as you go lessons [Re: Volusiano]
Betty Patnude Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/11/07
Posts: 4896
Loc: Puyallup, Washington
You are so nice, Barb. Over and over you show your concern by putting your students needs and feelings into your thoughtful consideration.

That sounds like a phone call you received. I think phone calls are more difficult to do in that most inquiries seem hurried on the telephone with conversation randomly changing focus before you've had a chance to complete a reply. We have to plan an agenda for phone calls to say what we want them to know about us as well as answering our questions. We get one short attempt usually unless the parent is very serious about us as the teacher it's shopping around on their part.

I would prefer to have conducted this by email where I can send the inquirer some attachments about my studio: the studio policy, the tuition fees, back ground about my studio, my teaching philosophy, my contract. Not that you or any other teacher has to do this exactly like I do, you have to find your own system of approach that works best for you.

She is the one who doesn't fit because it's completely to her benefit that she will pay for one lesson at a time. This puts you in the position of entering checks in your income records every week and then banking weekly. The reason who monthly or semester payments work so well for piano teachers is that it reduces our "accounting" time greatly and lets us make less trips to the bank. I use my student's entry date (first lesson) as the due date, so I have various due dates to cope with, but a teacher could prorate to the 1st of the month for all students, collect all tuition fees that week and make one bank deposit at the end of that week. Efficient and effective use of your time.

She was also adverse to attendance policy. That would tell me that she is not going to be truly a prospective student for me.

Bottom line: Thank you for calling. But the things you are looking for and the way I operate my piano studio business are not going to be a compatible fit for us. Would you be interested in receiving my written information about what is required of my students and their families to become enrolled in study with me?

If you have a web site, you could ask her to visit it for a view.

I don't think she will easily find what she is looking for but it will take a number of phone calls on her part to get that message.

If it's not a problem to the teacher receiving the inquiry and they are able to proceed to accepting the student, then they know what the "issues" may be going into it.

For a teacher for whom this is an obstacle, if you accept this student you are sabotaging all the relationships you have with your current studios. All that you have worked toward in establishing these rules for your needs as a teacher will be compromised. You are setting a new priority.

Another way through this would be to have a program in place for these kinds of inquiries to explore being with you in lessons for a short period as an "Introduction" period. (Testing the waters). After this, I would require year round enrollment and abiding with the studio policy and payment program. This allows the family to see what they would be missing if they had to have it their way. They may gain respect and trust of your system and they may choose to comply.

I'm doing this one paid lesson first with the option of 10 lessons as the introductory period, and then it would be year round lesson enrollment. I might consider continuing in 10 lesson scheduling at a time.

When a teacher protects herself she is likely to avoid being stressed out and frustrated. If we need cooperation we have to tell them what that cooperation consists of. When they say "No" to the rules, they are saying "no" to us as a person and a teacher. No means no and they decided that to meet their criteria. So, I say it was not a request for lessons from us personally, it was shopping around for anyone who would accept the circumstances.

The quality and outcome of your teaching is not in the equation at all. That would bother me.

Betty

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#1405630 - 03/28/10 03:37 PM Re: pay as you go lessons [Re: Betty Patnude]
Ben Crosland Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/11/10
Posts: 419
Loc: Worcester, UK
Interesting thread! I notice that most of the posters on here are from the US - here in the UK it is pretty common practice to charge by the term, which usually means in a batch of between 12 to 16 lessons at a time.

For about 17 years I worked at a studio that was affiliated with a music store. For the first few years, we used to charge weekly - at the end of each night, I'd fill in a ledger detailing how many lessons I'd taught, and for the shop's commission I put the appropriate amount of cash in the tin. Then, one day, one of the staff took me to one side and said he'd compared my schedule with the amount of commission I'd been putting in, and he'd calculated that in just 6 months, student absences had cost me in the region of £1000. Now, bear in mind that this was about 20 years ago! £2000 a year is a lot of money to me even now - back then this came as a major wake-up call!

So we soon implemented a monthly payment scheme, with the idea being that missed lessons were not refundable, and not guaranteed to be made good, unless sufficient notice was given. This was certainly a massive improvement to the previous situation, but there were still regular situations where I'd end up having a disagreement about due payments with a student. The problem was, we needed some holiday; so our solution was the 'occasional 5 weeks in a month' idea that I saw mentioned earlier - i.e. the students paid a regular monthly fee for which we offered 48 lessons a year. The trouble was, that there were always those customers who simply couldn't get their heads around this concept, so when they missed a lesson, either accidentally or for a scheduled holiday, they would deduct the cost from our fees. The flaw in this plan, we came to realise, was that because they were paying for such a small amount of lessons at a time, they were more inclined to see the monthly payment as being for those specific lessons. Of course, they *never once* would offer us 5 lessons' worth when those longer months came around wink

Eventually, having looked at the way other schools in our area were working, we went for the termly fees, and have never looked back. We have always offered the option to pay by 3 installments, but these have been due on the first lesson in each calendar month as it occurs in the term, which is normally over 3 months long. This reinforces the idea that they are buying a time-slot in which we guarantee to offer them a lesson during our term time.

The way I see it, and consequently explain to our clients, is that it is very similar to a place in nursery or kindergarten - you pay a termly fee, and for that, they will guarantee a place for your child on the days you pay for. If your child is ill one day, or you go on holiday (this is the one that really gets my goat - they want to save money by going during school term, and I'm supposed to donate some of my wages/time to this!?) you wouldn't expect a refund from the nursery, and you wouldn't get a day in lieu from them either.

Obviously, I understand that we are not the same as a kindergarten, but the business model needs to be similar, otherwise it just isn't cost-effective.

The bottom line is this: If a student expects to come at the same time every week, then that time-slot *must* be paid for, otherwise you could be filling it with another paying student. Payment in advance is essential, otherwise it becomes much harder to demand the money for missed lessons.

It's not as if being a music teacher is particularly lucrative job, after all. The hours we can teach are limited and, to many, our service is a luxury - therefore we cannot charge anywhere near the same rates as those often charged by other skilled professionals, despite the fact that we have probably had to train for far longer to acquire our level of expertise!

This is not to say that I am completely inhuman about people missing lessons. If there is enough notice, I am happy to offer an alternative slot *if I have one*. Also, I rarely charge for extra lessons given near exam/concert time, so in most cases my students come to realise that it all levels out in end, and often in their favour.

As for those who want to just come for the occasional lesson, or fortnightly, well that's fine as long as they are happy to go at the end of my schedule. There is no way I would ever consider allowing this for a time-slot that was in the middle of a session.
_________________________
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Easy Christmas Jazz

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#1405731 - 03/28/10 06:22 PM Re: pay as you go lessons [Re: Ben Crosland]
Reid Burgess Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 01/28/10
Posts: 12
Loc: United States
Originally Posted By: Ben Crosland
This is not to say that I am completely inhuman about people missing lessons. If there is enough notice, I am happy to offer an alternative slot *if I have one*.


Yes, interesting thread.
I'm curious, Ben, about what you'd consider to be adequate warning or "enough notice" to reschedule someone's time slot?

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#1405793 - 03/28/10 07:56 PM Re: pay as you go lessons [Re: Reid Burgess]
Ben Crosland Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/11/10
Posts: 419
Loc: Worcester, UK
I prefer a week or more, but to be honest, it's not an exact science. Also, this notice doesn't guarantee them a make-up, just that I'm more inclined to offer them an alternative slot if one is available (and, of course, the more people that give me advanced notice of absence, the more likelihood that others can be offered an alternative). It can be quite a difficult balancing act though - there are always one or two students who get it in their head that I 'owe' them the missed lessons, which can make things a little awkward sometimes. Confrontations with students over finances are never fun!

The main advice I can offer is to be as clear as you can be about your terms and conditions when you first enroll a new student - if you're not, and they start assuming or dictating their own rules, then it can make for a long-term problem. Nowadays, we print the conditions on the reverse of the invoice for next term's fees, and ask them to sign that they have read, understood and agree to abide by them.
_________________________
Teacher, Composer, Sound Designer

Cool Beans!

Easy Christmas Jazz

YouTube channel




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#1406131 - 03/29/10 10:29 AM Re: pay as you go lessons [Re: currawong]
Morodiene Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 11764
Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
Originally Posted By: currawong
Originally Posted By: Reid Burgess
Originally Posted By: currawong
Someone like me possibly could - I have a fairly small number of students, and mostly adults. I need them to be flexible too because I do a lot of accompanying work and we work out lesson times between us at busy times of the year. Teachers who have a full studio of children, for example, simply can't do this.
Currawong, this is an interesting arrangement. I'm curious what your teaching policy looks like, if you use one.
I have an information sheet which states expectations (and policy, I suppose) but I don't have anything to sign. If I had a full studio again as I did once, I would certainly go this way. But I'm basically working as an accompanist, with teaching on the side. Because the sort of arrangement I described in my previous post would not be ideal for younger students, with their school routine and other activities, my students are almost entirely adults.

I have never had any problems with payment, notice or any of those things teachers have a policy document to guard against - with my adult students, that is! (I've had some doozies with children... or rather, their parents. Strange that, because they're adults too smile )

I explain to potential students at the first contact how I operate, and if that is not going to suit them that's as far as it goes. Most pay by the school term (10 weeks), either all at once, or in segments. If I have a gig I usually can give them at least a week's notice and find a suitable alternative time. In return, I will accommodate their scheduling problems to do with work, overseas trips, meetings etc as long as I have sufficient notice. They are all very considerate and treat me as a professional, and I don't assume they're trying to take advantage of me. smile They also practise. Have I just been lucky? smile Perhaps.

I've had a few come and go, as most of us do, but because accompanying and coaching singers/instrumentalists is my main source of income, this doesn't bother me as it would otherwise. Most have been with me for years.
This is something I'm going to have to implement most likely for next year since I'm auditioning and trying to get more of a performing career in opera going. I love all of my students, though, and so I'm committed to continue teaching them if they can be flexible.

And of course, if I'm asking them to be flexible with me, I will be flexible with them as well and accommodate their schedules. However, I think for me the best way would be to simply charge monthly for however many lessons in that month rather than give the option of paying by semester. I know there are some who prefer to pay by semester, but then that leaves me in the lurch to do make up lessons which I may not have time to do. Paying by lesson really does not appeal to me, and I'm sure it doesn't appeal to my students. Too much paperwork!
_________________________
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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#1406421 - 03/29/10 03:59 PM Re: pay as you go lessons [Re: Volusiano]
D4v3 Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/07/09
Posts: 501
Loc: Fort Worth, Texas
Originally Posted By: Volusiano
My daughter who's a piano teacher had a pay-as-you-go policy when she started out teaching, but that very quickly fell apart because she had to deal with excessive last minute cancellations and no-shows with no notice. People who are no-shows think they shouldn't pay you because they didn't receive that service, but they don't realize that the time you set aside for that lesson for them is lost at your expense because you could have planned it for something else.

The only way pay-as-you-go will work fairly is if payment for that planned lesson is made in advance with no refund. But even then, it's not fair when you must turn away other teaching opportunities for that weekly time slot, and you're still at the student's whim whether they want to do a lesson that week or not. Not to mention the hassle of requiring payment for every single lesson up-front.

So very quickly afterward, she instituted a new policy that requires students to commit to book and pre-pay for a set of 4 lessons at a time. I explained that policy in detail in the other thread on this forum about "Excessive Absences". It's since worked out wonderfully well for her.


THIS, so much this.

I have said before that I am not a professional but will "pinch hit" while people are looking for another teacher.

People that are serious should have no problem doing a pay by the month ordeal, unless they are really financially burdened and then a week by week thing may be fine if they seem trust worthy.

I hate it when I have to stand there at the end of the lesson waiting to get paid when and they stare at you as if to say, what are you still doing here?(I actually travel to their houses, they all live within a block of my house). Luckily this isnt my day job so I can afford to put up with it.

** people that want to do pay per lesson are usually the ones that will take advantage of ducking out on the lesson as often as they can, and unless you are really hurt for cash should be avoided.

** I would say to her, if it were me, "I understand your feelings, nobody likes to pay for things they dont use, I really can't think of any teachers to refer you to that go by a pay-per-lesson method; all the ones I know operate on a similar manner that I do. I tell you what, think about it and if you aren't able to find someone that does the pay-per-lesson I would be happy to know that I was still under consideration as the alternate solution." Now you have made your point and did so in a professional way.
_________________________
Currently learning composition:

Some of my compositions

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#1406965 - 03/30/10 09:49 AM Re: pay as you go lessons [Re: D4v3]
Chris H. Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/14/05
Posts: 2893
Loc: UK.
For those teachers who charge monthly in advance:

How do you handle the changing amount of lessons per month? For example there might be 4 Mondays one month and 5 the next, not to mention public holidays, pre-planned holidays they may take or days you need to miss. Do you invoice each student at the start of each month or at the end of the previous month to ensure payment arrives on time?

I have thought about this in order to make my own payment policy more flexible and less complicated. The trouble is that it just seems like an administrative nightmare.
_________________________
Pianist and piano teacher.

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