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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: 7314
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: 7314
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 Online   content
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
500 Post Club Member

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.
_________________________
piano teacher

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#1355050 - 01/21/10 08:01 PM Re: pay as you go lessons [Re: Betty Patnude]
currawong Offline
5000 Post Club Member

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.
_________________________
Du holde Kunst...

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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.
_________________________
Mason & Hamlin A -- 91997
My YouTube channel: http://www.youtube.com/pianomonica

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