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#1354271 - 01/20/10 04:37 PM pay as you go lessons
Barb860 Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/11/09
Posts: 1644
Loc: northern California
Just another topic about fees, forgive me!
Recently a parent contacted me about starting lessons for her child. When I told her my tuition structure (pay one month in advance) and my missed lesson policy (see excessive absence thread), she said this, "I will not pay for any lessons my child does not take". I explained that I teach a curriculum and have a program, not just single lessons. She told me what it was like when she was younger and a student herself, when she paid cash for one lesson at a time.
I did the same thing, back 30-40 years ago. My teachers were teaching at universities so they were professionals and well trained. In addition to these "regular jobs", they taught students like myself on nights and weekends and we paid for one lesson at a time. We were in the guild, competitions and recitals. So did they not have a "program", too?
Fast-forward to today. Does anyone charge for just one lesson at a time?
What would you have said to the parent had she phoned you?
_________________________
Piano Teacher

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#1354297 - 01/20/10 05:11 PM Re: pay as you go lessons [Re: Barb860]
Rachel J Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/11/09
Posts: 324
Loc: Brooklyn, NY
Hi Barb,

At the risk of being reprimanded wink I'll admit that I do not have a pay-ahead scheme going on in my studio, so I wouldn't have run into this particular situation.

If you have decided on a payment scheme and you make it clear in advance, then anyone who doesn't like it should just go elsewhere. You cannot make exceptions! Sounds like this parent wasn't very respectful of your position.

Just for full disclosure, after trying different things over the years, I do this:
I bill students at the end of the month for however many lessons they took. I do not accept payment in advance. They are able to cancel once a month for no fee. If they cancel more than once in a calendar month, they pay for the additional cancellations. I *try* to do makeups, but there is absolutely no guarantee, because my schedule is very full.
_________________________
Rachel Jimenez Piano teacher in Brooklyn, NY / Author of Fundamental Keys method
My professional website: FundamentalKeys.com
Latest blog post: "A marvelous pianist and mentor"

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#1354319 - 01/20/10 05:34 PM Re: pay as you go lessons [Re: Rachel J]
Minniemay Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/09
Posts: 1702
Loc: CA
I would have said, "I'm sorry. You'll have to find a different teacher. You are purchasing a time slot in my schedule and I cannot sell it to someone else. There is also considerable time spent outside the lesson in preparation and training. Thank you for your interest, though."

This is how you choose to run your business. Do not apologize for it.
_________________________
B.A., Piano, Piano Pegagogy, Music Ed.
M.M., Piano

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#1354321 - 01/20/10 05:36 PM Re: pay as you go lessons [Re: Barb860]
eweiss Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/28/09
Posts: 2393
Loc: Beautiful San Diego, CA
Originally Posted By: Barb860
What would you have said to the parent had she phoned you?

One word ... 'adios.' smile
_________________________
Play New Age Piano
http://www.quiescencemusic.com

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#1354346 - 01/20/10 06:06 PM Re: pay as you go lessons [Re: Barb860]
John v.d.Brook Online   content
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7312
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
Barb,

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, but this isn't the basis, nor should it be, of your daily studio operation. I have a rate, $50/lesson (one academic hour, BTW), which is available for those parents who do not want to be locked in to a contract and a set time.

However, you need to make it very, very clear that the student shows up with cash in hand, the lesson is taken, and there is no further obligations/opportunities available. No recitals, no performance classes, no master classes, no group lessons, no hand-outs, just lessons on a catch as catch can basis. And oh, by the way, if a tuition paying student needs that particular time, they will have to forgo their lesson or take it another open time.

Most parents can figure out that paying tuition is the better deal financially.

Figuring out and adjusting to all these cats and dogs situations is just part and parcel of the job of the independent studio piano teacher.
_________________________
"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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#1354392 - 01/20/10 07:26 PM Re: pay as you go lessons [Re: John v.d.Brook]
Rachel J Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/11/09
Posts: 324
Loc: Brooklyn, NY
Originally Posted By: John v.d.Brook
Figuring out and adjusting to all these cats and dogs situations is just part and parcel of the job of the independent studio piano teacher.


I love that, John. I do think it takes a while to figure out what kind of policy you feel comfortable enforcing as a teacher, and sometimes things have to be adjusted as time passes. For example, I am almost to the point where I will have a waiting list. If/when that happens, I guess I will have to be more strict about cancellations, because keeping a student who isn't dedicated enough to not miss lessons won't be fair to the potentially more dedicated ones on the waiting list.
_________________________
Rachel Jimenez Piano teacher in Brooklyn, NY / Author of Fundamental Keys method
My professional website: FundamentalKeys.com
Latest blog post: "A marvelous pianist and mentor"

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#1354393 - 01/20/10 07:28 PM Re: pay as you go lessons [Re: John v.d.Brook]
Stanny Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/08/06
Posts: 1461
I like John's idea, but I probably wouldn't do it in my studio. I'd simply say "I hope you find a teacher that fits your needs."
_________________________
~Stanny~

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

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#1354399 - 01/20/10 07:40 PM Re: pay as you go lessons [Re: John v.d.Brook]
Lollipop Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/28/09
Posts: 820
Loc: Georgia
I do know teachers who give lessons singly. All those teachers teach instruments other than piano, and have other full-time (orchestra) jobs. The lessons are less frequent due to the high cost to the student and the time constraints of the teacher. I think John's solution is brilliant, and follows this idea.

I would have simply said, "It sounds like I'm not the right teacher for you." Occasionally, I've had to defend my tuition system by asking them if their child ever attended preschool or played soccer, or whatever. All of those things require a payment commitment for the whole term, and you do not get anything extra if your child is sick and misses a day.
_________________________
piano teacher

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#1354447 - 01/20/10 09:20 PM Re: pay as you go lessons [Re: Lollipop]
Ann in Kentucky Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/22/08
Posts: 2647
Loc: Kentucky
Barb 860,

I would have repeated "I charge by the month". But regarding details about policies...(no makeup lessons etc.) I would probably refer them to my web pages, so they can look over the policies and then let me know if they have questions if/when we schedule an interview. That way they can get the shock (if it is one) on their own and have time to adjust to it. But really, I've never had anyone complain about the no makeup lessons and no refunds. Then I go over it line by line with them when they come for the interview. But I would not even try to justify my policies. I'm not trying to convince anyone of anything (except to get a piano and practice of course!)

That reminds me of someone who called and said my fees were too high. It's either a deal breaker for her or it's not. She either accepts your policies, or keeps looking. She sounds disrespectful, so just as well to find out before you start...that this is someone who is demanding and ungrateful.

Good luck!
_________________________
piano teacher

"She played upon her music box
a fancy air by chance,
And straightaway all her polka dots
began a lively dance."
-- Peter Newell

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#1354448 - 01/20/10 09:27 PM Re: pay as you go lessons [Re: Ann in Kentucky]
Ann in Kentucky Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/22/08
Posts: 2647
Loc: Kentucky
In my written and online policy I state "The tuition you pay reserves a place for your child in a weekly lesson". If she insists she won't pay for lessons her child doesn't take, you may let her know that she will need to see that her child atttends every lesson then, since your fees are by the month.
_________________________
piano teacher

"She played upon her music box
a fancy air by chance,
And straightaway all her polka dots
began a lively dance."
-- Peter Newell

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#1354498 - 01/20/10 11:21 PM Re: pay as you go lessons [Re: Ann in Kentucky]
theJourney Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/22/07
Posts: 3946
Loc: Banned
Note to teachers: It is your business to determine and execute whatever policies you like and to refuse to take on students that don't do as you say.
Note to students and sponsors: It is the customer's business to find a professional that meets their expectations and needs.

As an adult, I always pay lesson by lesson and avoid like the plague those teachers that want to turn me into some kind of school boy or annuity cash cow and who delight in charging for missed lessons. It works for all parties, as I then am able to work with teachers who are not only flexible like I am but whose entire practice is designed around students' needs. Most students don't want to reserve a slot in your studio. Students want to learn the piano.

Remember, in most areas there are more piano teachers than there is demand for piano teaching: spend time to find a teacher that meets your needs and wants to work with you musically. The ones who are all business and policy and want contracts and money up front and warn you about how busy they are are often the ones you would have dropped after a few trial lessons because they can't teach but now you are stuck with them.

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#1354512 - 01/20/10 11:50 PM Re: pay as you go lessons [Re: theJourney]
John v.d.Brook Online   content
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7312
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
Well, Journey, that's quite a generalization, and I suppose you've researched in-depth teachers in the USA who charge tuition and found them wanting, whereas teachers who are totally flexible, have no life, medical or living needs, live in ramshackle homes, have no expenses such as maintaining pianos, are top notch artists who have chosen to teach out of the goodness of their hearts. And when can we expect the Netherlands to drop the price of oil back to $15/bbl? As you're so generous, it should be any day now.
_________________________
"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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#1354516 - 01/21/10 12:02 AM Re: pay as you go lessons [Re: John v.d.Brook]
Minniemay Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/09
Posts: 1702
Loc: CA
Students who want to learn to play the piano show up weekly for their lessons, so it shouldn't be a problem to pay by the month.
_________________________
B.A., Piano, Piano Pegagogy, Music Ed.
M.M., Piano

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#1354528 - 01/21/10 12:27 AM Re: pay as you go lessons [Re: Ann in Kentucky]
Candywoman Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/14/03
Posts: 834
I would have told her that nowadays all the teachers charge by the month, and they need to pay their bills and be able to rely on a steady income. I might have added, I don't know what you do for a living, but if your boss called you up and said he doesn't need you on Wednesday, you would miss the income, wouldn't you? A piano teacher has 20 or 30 bosses and they can't all be telling you to take unpaid time off.

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#1354628 - 01/21/10 07:44 AM Re: pay as you go lessons [Re: theJourney]
Ann in Kentucky Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/22/08
Posts: 2647
Loc: Kentucky
the Journey,

Most of us are very flexible with adult students as often they can come for lessons during school hours, so it is not a problem. Plus adults are reliable at practicing.

But kids really need a weekly lesson. And parents DO want a regular weekly lesson time instead of checking each week to see what' open. It has worked for me to have monthly fees and NO ONE has complained. An adult who travelled with work for one month...I made an exception and didn't charge him that month.

Plus there is a big difference between beginners and intermediate adult students. I just have beginnners and they WANT a weekly lesson. An intermediate adult player can benefit by consultations with a teacher as you describe instead of regular lessons if that's what they have time for.


Edited by Ann in Kentucky (01/21/10 07:51 AM)
Edit Reason: added last paragraph
_________________________
piano teacher

"She played upon her music box
a fancy air by chance,
And straightaway all her polka dots
began a lively dance."
-- Peter Newell

Top
#1354632 - 01/21/10 08:14 AM Re: pay as you go lessons [Re: Candywoman]
keystring Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11586
Loc: Canada
Originally Posted By: Candywoman
I would have told her that nowadays all the teachers charge by the month, and they need to pay their bills and be able to rely on a steady income. I might have added, I don't know what you do for a living, but if your boss called you up and said he doesn't need you on Wednesday, you would miss the income, wouldn't you? A piano teacher has 20 or 30 bosses and they can't all be telling you to take unpaid time off.

May I suggest something more along the line of:
Piano study works best with regular lessons over a period of several years within the teacher's program. The fee you pay reserves an exclusive time slot for you(r child) that nobody else can use. It is to your benefit to make full use of the time made available to you by attending all lessons.

Ok, that sounds too fancy. But I would avoid talking about your own needs. It doesn't sound professional, and it might backfire if the person at the other end freelances. I do not have predictable income and my "employers" number way more than 30. I would never tell a client about my financial needs. I tell them why my services are of value and how they will benefit them.

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#1354655 - 01/21/10 08:57 AM Re: pay as you go lessons [Re: keystring]
Loves Pugs Too Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/03/09
Posts: 105
Loc: VA
I agreed to weekly lessons paid monthly at a locale studio. I asked about missing a lesson because of snow or emergencies. Their policy is no make up. However, there were 5 months during the year that have 5 weeks (5 lessons not 4 ) with no extra charge - sweet. That more than made up for any missed lesson. That works just fine for me. I must say though that even if that were not the case I would have no resentment paying month to month because as mentioned that is MY slot and the teacher probably would be sitting looking at the door for most of the allotted time waiting for my no show butt. They met their part of the agreement and I did not meet mine. As a side, in the end I was not happy with the progress of the lessons (teacher talked about their personal past family problems for at least 20 minutes of half hour lesson x's 4 lessons ) so I gave my notice with 2 weeks paid left in January. I found another teacher only 10 minutes from my home - taught in her home. She only teaches 1 hour lessons and her charge is a little more than double the cost of the studio lessons -but - she is wonderful, wonderful I say. All my excitement for learning the piano is back and I can hardly contain how great it feels. May I say that even the environment is a breath of fresh air difference. Beautiful room, a 1916 refurbished Steinway
Grand and a teacher bursting with the energy of a positive outlook. Yea me!
Kudos to good teachers. Richard
_________________________
Old Wulitzer

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#1354739 - 01/21/10 11:16 AM Re: pay as you go lessons [Re: keystring]
Barb860 Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/11/09
Posts: 1644
Loc: northern California
Originally Posted By: keystring
Originally Posted By: Candywoman
I would have told her that nowadays all the teachers charge by the month, and they need to pay their bills and be able to rely on a steady income. I might have added, I don't know what you do for a living, but if your boss called you up and said he doesn't need you on Wednesday, you would miss the income, wouldn't you? A piano teacher has 20 or 30 bosses and they can't all be telling you to take unpaid time off.

May I suggest something more along the line of:
Piano study works best with regular lessons over a period of several years within the teacher's program. The fee you pay reserves an exclusive time slot for you(r child) that nobody else can use. It is to your benefit to make full use of the time made available to you by attending all lessons.

Ok, that sounds too fancy. But I would avoid talking about your own needs. It doesn't sound professional, and it might backfire if the person at the other end freelances. I do not have predictable income and my "employers" number way more than 30. I would never tell a client about my financial needs. I tell them why my services are of value and how they will benefit them.


Yes, it is about the student's need for commitment. The teacher is committing to weekly lessons and the spot is reserved for this student. I am tired of playing second fiddle to soccer, baseball, etc. etc. every season. I have put up with this for too long, allowing students to miss lessons due to sports practices and games. The result: lack of progress at the piano, period, and this is a no-win situation for all involved, not to mention a waste of time and money. Make the commitment or not. I'm raising the standards in my studio.
I like the idea of pay as you go lessons and could offer those, too, for folks who do not want to commit to a set lesson time.
I could see this working for adults who are intermediate players. There is a very fine teacher in my community who teaches advanced students and offers this service to them and I refer people to her. My goal is to take lessons from her on this same pay as you go basis.
_________________________
Piano Teacher

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#1354873 - 01/21/10 03:02 PM Re: pay as you go lessons [Re: Barb860]
Nguyen Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/25/09
Posts: 430
Loc: Massachusetts
Originally Posted By: eweiss
One word ... 'adios.' smile

You’re harsh. How are you going to find any students? LOL…

OT but since it’s about pay, fees and all that, I thought I’d ask.

What’s your policy regarding adult students… say would you accept one or not… and would you consider a flexible schedule… on a bi-weekly basis and work together to fit in lesson time… maybe it’s not always fixed?

I know it’s a lot and didn’t think I should even ask. You will probably think I’m out of my mind and selfish…

My wife helped out asking her clients about a Piano teacher, and was referred to one near her work. I have this teacher info and been thinking, pondering for a few weeks now but can’t decide. With wife working 7 days and a young child, a fixed time slot is tough to figure out. Weekly lessons will probably make a dent in Son’s 529 college savings too… and I’d rather not do that. Is bi-weekly reasonable?

Every situation is unique huh? I have been thinking it’s perhaps best I continue self-learning. But I don’t want to give up hopes of having a wonderful teacher experience, yet. I really like to hear what you really and honestly think. No sugar coated needed. Good or bad, promise I can and will take it wholeheartedly.

Thanks,
Nguyen

P.S. eweiss, you know I was just kidding? smile


Edited by Nguyen (01/21/10 05:12 PM)
Edit Reason: Add [i]italic[/i]
_________________________
Nguyen - Student Pianist

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#1354882 - 01/21/10 03:11 PM Re: pay as you go lessons [Re: Nguyen]
eweiss Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/28/09
Posts: 2393
Loc: Beautiful San Diego, CA
Originally Posted By: Nguyen
Originally Posted By: eweiss
One word ... 'adios.' smile

You’re harsh. How are you going to find any students? LOL…

I don't. They find me through the internet. I teach online and literally have had thousands of students.

In order for a piano teacher to survive (notice I didn't say 'thrive') you have to set terms where both parties come away feeling good. Not just the student. Teachers who take students on a weekly basis could be leaving money on the table.

And yeah. A lot of it's about the money. Or do we live on a planet where goods and service can be purchased with gold-pressed latinum?
_________________________
Play New Age Piano
http://www.quiescencemusic.com

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#1354968 - 01/21/10 06:04 PM Re: pay as you go lessons [Re: eweiss]
Betty Patnude Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/11/07
Posts: 4896
Loc: Puyallup, Washington
If you are not going to be able to find a fixed time for a lesson, you are probably not going to be able to find time for daily practice.

I think you should show yourself the discipline of trying to find and keep a fixed time for the lesson just by putting any date and time into your calendar now and seeing how many obstacles come up in your life in the next 60 days that will cause a conflict. You have to try to keep the time a priority and reschedule the other competing event.

Also, you have to find time in your schedule when you would be practicing at your piano. If you can't schedule a half hour to an hour for practice daily, then you are not going to be making progress to your advantage, you're going to be making excuses to your teacher and yourself.

So set it up as though you are the student entered in the program and see exactly what kind of a problem you are.

Then reverse this idea (an exercise not a real thing) and have someone schedule an appointment with you at a different time then your lesson would be scheduled for any purpose you want to conceive and see how often you are able to meet with this person who wants to see you. Are you letting him down over and over by not being there? You choose the location and they meet you and that puts you in the place of the teacher waiting for his/her student to arrive. Did your student remember to call you and tell you he wasn't coming today?

This is now 2 appointments per week you are trying to make.

Is it as hopeless as you think? Or, is it doable?

Betty

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#1355004 - 01/21/10 07:01 PM Re: pay as you go lessons [Re: Betty Patnude]
Nguyen Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/25/09
Posts: 430
Loc: Massachusetts
Originally Posted By: Betty Patnude
If you are not going to be able to find a fixed time for a lesson, you are probably not going to be able to find time for daily practice.

I think you should show yourself the discipline of trying to find and keep a fixed time for the lesson just by putting any date and time into your calendar now and seeing how many obstacles come up in your life in the next 60 days that will cause a conflict. You have to try to keep the time a priority and reschedule the other competing event…

Is it as hopeless as you think? Or, is it doable? Betty

Betty, thanks for your inputs. I was just wondering if there’s such thing as a flex schedule for adult students and is it ok bi-weekly. Anyway, to answer your questions, here’s what my week is like right now.

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).

Regarding practice, yes, I’m very discipline with my daily practice. Everynight when wife and son are asleep, no matter how late or tired, I always put in at least 1 hour before I go to bed.

And yes, I definitely think it’s doable. I was hoping for teacher's opinion about a flex schedule. And what you think of bi-weekly? In order for me to stay fix, I’ll definitely need a babysitter for an hour or 2 plus sitting costs.

Sunday is my best option. I just can’t ask mom or mom-in-law for a fixed time slot.

Like I said, I don’t think it’s fair to ask you this question. But before I decide to either do it or not, it’s helpful to hear your advices.

If you really think it's not fair to ask for a flex schedule and bi-weekly lesson, then I'll either have to work on asking both moms for a fix sunday time slot, look for a part-time babysitter, or quit the idea altogether and just keep on doing my nightly one-hour self-learning. smile
_________________________
Nguyen - Student Pianist

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#1355017 - 01/21/10 07:17 PM Re: pay as you go lessons [Re: Nguyen]
currawong Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/15/07
Posts: 5903
Loc: Down Under
Nguyen, I think it depends on the teacher. One who has a full studio of (mainly) children, and a tight schedule probably wouldn't be able to accommodate you, unless you could come in the daytime when (typically) the children can't come. 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. All you can do is talk to the teacher and see what they say. They may be able to refer you to someone else who does more flexible scheduling.
_________________________
Du holde Kunst...

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#1355028 - 01/21/10 07:38 PM Re: pay as you go lessons [Re: Nguyen]
Betty Patnude Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/11/07
Posts: 4896
Loc: Puyallup, Washington
Everyone has things they have to manage into their time. I had 5 children at home when I started teaching in 1971 they were between the ages of 2 and 9 years old. During those years I had between 10 and 40 students so being there at the piano took up a lot of my "extra" time. I was also much of the time paying someone to come in and be availabe during the time I was teaching to be there and do things with the kids for a few hours an afternoon. The older kids helped the younger kids. In a few years it wasn't necessary to have someone there for them. Seldom was I interupted and if so, then it was for an important reason.

If I could find time to teach with a busy household such as I had, and I know a lot of other women who have done the same by combining piano teaching, family, and home management, then I think any one can find time to have a one hour lesson per week and find time to practice daily. I feel the same about women in college courses with families, home and maybe a job to manage. "Where there is a will there is a way."

If you don't have the passion to commit to lessons and to the teacher then you won't find the passion to find the babysitter or ask the wife or the grandparent for her support in finding time for your piano activities.

We all have the same 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year with which to fill however we want to with activity.

I'm not sure that you actually now do a one hour nightly self teaching sesson, but if you do, then I commend you for that. But, I think you have more options then you might be seeing.

The more room we have to make excuses about why we haven't started or can' start our piano lessons, then the longer the decision is going to drag on. For many busy people, there is no optimum time, but they plunge in, get committed, follow through, and make progress.

We all have to work out how we will spend our time for ourselves.

I don't think a part time schedule is helpful to a piano student of any age or level.

Betty

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#1355029 - 01/21/10 07:38 PM Re: pay as you go lessons [Re: currawong]
Volusiano Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/01/10
Posts: 770
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.

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#1355043 - 01/21/10 07:56 PM Re: pay as you go lessons [Re: Volusiano]
Lollipop Offline
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Registered: 07/28/09
Posts: 820
Loc: Georgia
Last year I had a busy teen student whose parents asked me for an hour lesson every other week instead of 30 mintues per week. At first glance, this seems okay. But there were pitfalls, and I wouldn't do it again.

First, this tied up two 30 minute weekly time slots. The only way I could break even would be to find another student who was willing to take the hour on the in-between weeks. You know that's not going to happen.

Second, it very quickly became "We can't come this week, so we'll come next week instead." In other words, they expected me to have that hour available for them every week, even though they were only coming every other.

Keeping track long term of which weeks the student was supposed to be there was not easy. Some months have 4 weeks, some have five. So it wasn't a matter of just remembering "2nd and 4th Tuesdays" or whatever.

And when the student knew she wasn't going to have a lesson this week, she put off practicing. A student who comes weekly, and "crams" for lessons at the last minute might make some progress. A student who is only cramming every other week will make less.

It wasn't fun for either of us, and I wasn't surprised when she quit.

I have set very clear parameters about the time I am available to teach -- between 3:30 and 7:00 every day. I occassionally have someone - usually an adult - who wants me to make an exception and teach them later in the evening, or on weekends. That's not what I do.

At the moment I have only one adult student. She misses a fair number of lessons - other obligations, sick kids, etc. However, she pays tuition, as do my other students. So I think she just evaluates if she thinks the number of lessons she gets is worth the money she is paying. Apparently she thinks it is. You might consider doing something like that. Find a time you think might work best for you, and do all you can to get there. If you pay, for example, $80/month, and get there for 4 weeks, it's $20 per lesson. If you only make two of those lessons, then it's $40 per lesson. Teacher gets his/her scale, and you get your lessons, albeit at a higher price. Only you can decide if it's worth it to you.
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#1355050 - 01/21/10 08:01 PM Re: pay as you go lessons [Re: Betty Patnude]
currawong Offline
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Registered: 05/15/07
Posts: 5903
Loc: Down Under
Originally Posted By: Betty Patnude
If I could find time to teach with a busy household such as I had, and I know a lot of other women who have done the same by combining piano teaching, family, and home management, then I think any one can find time to have a one hour lesson per week and find time to practice daily.
I really admire what you did with 5 children at home, Betty, but I don't quite buy the "if I could ... then anyone can ..." argument. I've probably used that line myself at times smile but people are not all the same in their coping abilities even with identical situations. We can all say what we think, and I think that none of us can actually tell Nguyen what he is or isn't capable of doing. He really has to work that out for himself. If he finds he can't manage lessons at the moment for family reasons, then I don't want to put the "you could have done it if you'd really wanted to" guilt trip onto him.
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#1355077 - 01/21/10 09:07 PM Re: pay as you go lessons [Re: currawong]
Betty Patnude Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/11/07
Posts: 4896
Loc: Puyallup, Washington
Originally Posted By: currawong
Originally Posted By: Betty Patnude
If I could find time to teach with a busy household such as I had, and I know a lot of other women who have done the same by combining piano teaching, family, and home management, then I think any one can find time to have a one hour lesson per week and find time to practice daily.
I really admire what you did with 5 children at home, Betty, but I don't quite buy the "if I could ... then anyone can ..." argument. I've probably used that line myself at times smile but people are not all the same in their coping abilities even with identical situations. We can all say what we think, and I think that none of us can actually tell Nguyen what he is or isn't capable of doing. He really has to work that out for himself. If he finds he can't manage lessons at the moment for family reasons, then I don't want to put the "you could have done it if you'd really wanted to" guilt trip onto him.


I think I've given him something to examine his intentions by, Currawong. I have trouble when people are so clearly stating they want to do something but they can't because. I have heard so many excuses in my life and I don't listen to them anymore. I'd encourage him to make it happen if he wants it. But not to blame anyone else ever for why his dreams aren't happening. Wouldn't it be wonderful if his wife wanted to find time to be at home so that he could move forward. I wonder if she knows his ambitions and would want to work with him to promote it. Has he asked. I often think excuses are in someones head and haven't been verified with the other people in the equation. "Ask and ye shall receive" point of view. Obstacles perceived, or obstacles completely based in reality. Maybe he feels he shouldn't have these dreams for himself. Who knows. But, I'd like to see the effort made without all the criteria he thinks needs to happen first. Confront the issue entirely with the people involved and see what kind of cooperation he can get to pursuit his dream.

I think I'm affected by how many times with my 5 kids and husband I put myself last in the pecking order of things because.....there was always an excuse that explained why I couldn't or shouldn't when I really wanted something. There was always something else competing for priority. Sometimes you just have to stand up and get it for yourself because it doesn't matter much to anyone else but you. He has such a long list of things like mopping, etc. I'm in empathy to his feeling locked in, I think.

Betty

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#1355085 - 01/21/10 09:21 PM Re: pay as you go lessons [Re: currawong]
Canonie Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/04/09
Posts: 1941
Loc: Australia
Originally Posted By: Nguyen
I was just wondering if there’s such thing as a flex schedule for adult students and is it ok bi-weekly. Anyway, to answer your questions, here’s what my week is like right now.

Nguyen
I would be the kind of teacher who could accomodate you, so there must be others out there if you look. I'm not able to teach an absolutely full schedule, I keep the numbers down to 25 or 30 at most if I am doing relief teaching for another teacher, or helping with the exam preparation of other teachers' students. This is paid back to me in the flexibility students give me if I have a large performing or composing project on.

I have 2 students who have flexible "one at a time" lessons, and one child who has bi-weekly lessons with flexibility. I use off-peak time slots for these students, it works well. It would be crazy and impossible if all students fitted this category (unless teaching was something you did only a little of, say as a sideline to a performance career).

One of these students has a serious chronic illness and I have have done my very best to make sure she understands that she can cancel as often as she needs with as little as one hour notice. I admire her commitment and progress against some of her challenges! She pays a higher rate, and regularly passes me wonderful organic home grown food smile My teaching is valued, and she and her husband make it very clear that my flexibility is appreciated.

And the bi-weekly child changed to weekly after a few years smile (it was a theory and composition lesson, not his main instrumental lesson). For children in the first few years of piano, probably twice a week would be better for their development, so it's important to explain to parents how much ground they lose if lessons are any less than weekly. So weekly lessons (minimum) are better value for the money spent. Those early years are so valuable as a window to set many skills in place.
_________________________

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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#1355086 - 01/21/10 09:21 PM Re: pay as you go lessons [Re: Nguyen]
Monica K. Offline

Platinum Supporter until Dec 31 2012


Registered: 08/10/05
Posts: 17747
Loc: Lexington, Kentucky
Originally Posted By: Nguyen

If you really think it's not fair to ask for a flex schedule and bi-weekly lesson, then I'll either have to work on asking both moms for a fix sunday time slot, look for a part-time babysitter, or quit the idea altogether and just keep on doing my nightly one-hour self-learning. smile


Nguyen, as the others have said, it's absolutely fair to look for a teacher who will accommodate a flex schedule or biweekly lessons. For every teacher/student who has told a story on the forum where it doesn't work, I've read stories from others where it has worked out well. The trick is to start asking for referrals to teachers who specialize in or currently have several adult students.

Incidentally, unlike Betty, I believe you completely when you say that you practice an hour every night. Your obvious passion for and commitment to piano shine through in your posts. I am impressed by your motivation to keep playing despite your very busy schedule. The good news is that as your son grows older and is better able to entertain himself, you will have more time for piano.
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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
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Registered: 02/28/09
Posts: 2393
Loc: Beautiful San Diego, CA
I'll do it for $1,000,000! And not a penny less.
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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
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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
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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
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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.
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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 Online   content
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Registered: 12/03/09
Posts: 114
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.
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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 Online   content
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7312
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.
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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
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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 Online   content
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7312
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: 2846
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.
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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
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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: 2846
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.
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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.....
_________________________
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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: 5903
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.
_________________________
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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: 418
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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#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: 418
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.
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Easy Christmas Jazz

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

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 11448
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!
_________________________
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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.
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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: 2846
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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#1407053 - 03/30/10 12:07 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 going to spill my "guts" here!

My tuition fee is based on receiving and charging for 40 lessons per year and I multiply 40 x $25 for half hour tuition: $1000 annually or 40 x $40 for hour tuition: $1600. I receive 10 consecutive payments of $100.00 or $160.00 which pays for the year in the 10th month. This is as though the client received 4 lessons per month each and every month: but he doesn't as my studio is closed certain weeks of the year (6): Thanksgiving week, 2 weeks at Christmas/New Years Holiday, Fourth of July week, and 2 weeks at the end of summer (last week of August/first week of September.) Subtract 6 from 52 = 46 weeks. I then allow the 6 weeks remaining to be used for: snow days, teacher absences and student absences. This works out well for all.

I do have another option of paying for 10 lessons at a time $250 and $400 in 4 payments per year. This actually works best for me and for a lot of people who don't want to be bothered in writing checks. In my years of teaching I have also had parents elect to pay for one years tuition, and this for multiple children in their family. Never something I asked for, but something that was given to me through their confidence and commitment. Would you believe!

Because the accounting is so realistic for a year of lessons, the payment system works so there are no adjustments not make ups per se needed. I do makeups for a legitimate reason given 24 hours notice for planned absenses, and accepting emergency excuses that are legitimate.

I do keep attendance records and find that most students have received 39-40-42 lessons per year. I don't care about the lessons that exceeded 40, but I do want them to have 40 lessons per year. If they don't make the mark then it is about their attendances not mine and absense is something they chose for themselves. I don't get upset about attendance in any way as the program works to give me what I need in structure and it works for them in having the potential to earn extra lessons as a bonus from their good attendance. I usually do make ups by extending lesson time 10 minutes on a weekly basis until the make up is completed. My schedule has room for the majority of students to be able to do that when needed.

The other thing I noticed compared to other studio operations is that I don't bill/invoice since the contract states the agreement. All payments come in on time with once in a while someone missing their payment date. But, fortunately that is not a problem as long as it comes in within the month. I don't keep track unless I am concerned. I do send home accounting of the tuition and student fund in September, in January and in June - 3 times a year. And, when a student exits there is a final accounting.

I can't rave enough about a studio policy and the things covered within it that allow a teacher to manage the incoming money end of the business so well.

I am about to implement higher fees for September 2010. That means my current students will be charged more as they celebrate their calendar date of entry into my studio. So for them the new fees will start in the year 2011. New students will start at the new prices in September.

I hope this is helpful to other teachers who are looking for solutions to these problems we face. Let me say that I had years of bad experiences from which to learn from before I devised this system which has worked for me over 25 years. I worked hard to continuously improve upon it until it worked. So much was about communicating the program to the client in a way that they would see the benefit to them mostly the simplicity of it. In addition, it probably helps that I am competitively priced although from my reputation and long term teaching career I could ask a lot more in my area for my time.

It's my time people are paying for, actually, the teaching is free and joyfully given.

Betty Patnude

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#1407191 - 03/30/10 02:41 PM Re: pay as you go lessons [Re: Betty Patnude]
wavelength Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/23/07
Posts: 340
Loc: Vermont, USA
I expect payment for each lesson, at the time of the lesson. No problem with no-shows or excessive cancellation, as I have a clear, strict, and reasonable policy.

I need flexibility to accommodate performances.

I am able to offer "occasional" lessons to adults during school hours, but not for kids afterschool. I only have one "occasional" student.

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#1407369 - 03/30/10 06:49 PM Re: pay as you go lessons [Re: wavelength]
Chris H. Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/14/05
Posts: 2846
Loc: UK.
Betty, I run a similar system with annual tuition fees split into equal monthly payments. It's all there in my studio policy which every student is given a copy of and is also explained clearly on my website. Even so, I find myself having to go over it again and again with people every month. Take April for example, I have a two week break starting on Friday 2nd April which is in line with the school holidays. This means that Mon, Tues and Weds students will only get two lessons which won't be until the 19th. Last week I sent out a letter to request post dated cheques for April so that I can afford to live. Hardly any have showed up with payment this week and quite a few have questioned why they are paying a full monthly fee when they only get two lessons!

Wavelength, I am curious as to whether you make most of your living from teaching or if it's just a sideline. This probably makes a difference.
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#1407706 - 03/31/10 10:25 AM Re: pay as you go lessons [Re: Chris H.]
wavelength Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/23/07
Posts: 340
Loc: Vermont, USA
Chris, I make around 3/4 or 2/3 of my income teaching. The rest is performance.

I do consider myself primarily a performer, and secondarily a teacher.

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#1407719 - 03/31/10 10:51 AM Re: pay as you go lessons [Re: Betty Patnude]
R0B Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/03/08
Posts: 1439
Loc: Australia
Originally Posted By: Betty Patnude


It's my time people are paying for, actually, the teaching is free and joyfully given.

Betty Patnude


You seem to have a good system set up Betty, but if people are paying for your time, why do you value your time, at a lesser rate (pro rata) for an hour of it, as opposed to 30 minutes?
_________________________
Rob

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#1407804 - 03/31/10 12:59 PM Re: pay as you go lessons [Re: R0B]
Betty Patnude Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/11/07
Posts: 4896
Loc: Puyallup, Washington
That's a good question, ROB!

My half hour lesson is for the beginner until the elementary level is completed, but there are sometimes students who start needing more than half an hour due to their achievements and accelerated progress.

We start needing more time if we go wide in the level to add more music at the elementary level than my "basic" curriculum for elementary. Sometimes the students add width and depth and more time with me. I also teach "how to practice" and that has to be balanced into the lesson depending how much coaching is needed for practice. So an hour lesson is very desirable for a student who is moving toward or starting the intermediate level.

To encourage more time is to also raise the fee for lessons and sometime parents are reluctant to do that due to budget constraints. I wanted to provide an incentive for them to add the extra 30 minutes time so I gave a break of purchasing double the lesson time for only $15 more in charge. That really seems like a great bonus to my clients and they see the value in the decision. Some have continued without taking the advantage because unfortunately budget constraints keep them from electing it. Continuing at the half hour length is desirable for the majority of students as it meets their needs just fine. A nonchalant student is not going to be concerned too much about his progress and a half hour is very adequate for his lessons.

At the intermediate level, assignments get longer while the pieces also get longer with theory and technique so I feel it's necessary to go to an hour. Not all students are able to do that so it means that they are just going to take longer to complete the level. One of the ways to keep them up to accomplishment is to make sure they have great practice habits and a longer, quality practice at home...they then can stay on task without getting further behind.

For adults, I consider that they are going to need an hour for their lessons especially at the beginner level as we are establishing habits with time and effort being the criteria for their progress. We work on so many integrated things all at once for the beginner adults and it is very time consuming at lesson and in required practice at home to get to the level where they have acquired the skills they need to be self-actualizing in their music. Adult and mid-teen beginners are on a higher plane than children are in their lesson requirements.

I am happy to earn $40 an hour but if the market locally was higher at $50 and the clientele could easily handle that, I would certainly be charging at that level as it would be the 'norm'. I would then be charging $30 per half hour with $50 per hour.

My September 2010 tuition will not reflect new rates, but will charge for more lessons per year - 45 instead of 40. My present students will feel that change after January 2011 as their calendar (anniversary) dates come up during the year.

So the answer ROB, the lesser hour fee was to entice and accomodate my students to longer but still affordable lessons and to help them make a long term and more serious committment in their piano study.

I wish I could have said all that in one easy paragraph!

Betty


Edited by Betty Patnude (03/31/10 01:06 PM)

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#1408434 - 04/01/10 09:24 AM Re: pay as you go lessons [Re: Betty Patnude]
R0B Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/03/08
Posts: 1439
Loc: Australia
Thank you for the clarification, Betty.

I now realise you don't charge less for an hour's tuition.

You just charge more for 30 mins.
_________________________
Rob

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#1408629 - 04/01/10 01:58 PM Re: pay as you go lessons [Re: R0B]
Betty Patnude Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/11/07
Posts: 4896
Loc: Puyallup, Washington
ROB,

You are incredibly succinct! That's exactly it! Why can't I think like you do? We are obviously "brained" differently! (He, he)

Yes, it's a lot more work and responsibility to start a new student than it is to maintain a student's progress over the long term. The beginning teacher is so absolutely essential to the quality of the musician in lessons that I do charge ample for that first year or two of elementary basics. I do feel that to encourage longer weekly study with me and then long term involvement with me by giving a break on the price is good business. It kept students in long term lessons for 5-6-8 years and I now have a 15 year old male starting his 9th year.

This is what makes sense to me in my locality.

Thanks for asking for the clarification. And your comment back is "priceless". (unexpected pun)

Betty

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#1408633 - 04/01/10 02:00 PM Re: pay as you go lessons [Re: R0B]
Elissa Milne Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/11/10
Posts: 1337
Loc: Sydney, NSW, Australia
Nice reframing, ROB!! I think there's another reason it can be worthwhile charging less for an hour lesson as compared to a half hour: each student represents a certain amount of preparation and administration time in addition to the lesson time paid for. It is actually more efficient to have one's income derived from a smaller number of students taking longer lessons, therefore it is not unreasonable to decide to reflect this efficiency in the pricing policy.
_________________________
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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