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#1427088 - 04/30/10 11:52 AM Semester Contracts
gregbeddon Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/23/10
Posts: 26
I often have a problem with students dropping out in the middle of a semester. They are very hard to replace and my income isn't stable. So, I have thought about getting all my students to sign a semester contract. They would agree to take a certain number of lessons in the semester. Has anyone else tried this?

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#1427106 - 04/30/10 12:21 PM Re: Semester Contracts [Re: gregbeddon]
John v.d.Brook Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7507
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
Yes; you might try by the quarter, as it's a bit shorter, and students/parents would be more likely to accept this. BTW, a lot depends on your reputation and demand for your services. Entry level teachers would have problems demanding this, as they are an unknown.
"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

#1427129 - 04/30/10 12:41 PM Re: Semester Contracts [Re: John v.d.Brook]
Morodiene Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 12562
Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
I agree with John, the longer you've been teaching, the better your reputation (hopefully) and the more of a commitment you can ask for. Still, do you have a cancellation policy? Do you have students pay in advance for lessons? I have students sign something stating they agree to the terms of my policy, but it's not really a contract. They can pay either for lessons on a monthly basis, or for an entire semester upfront. But I have a 30-day cancellation policy.

Also, do you interview your students before signing them up for lessons? This has helped me tremendously in getting students that I know I can work well with, and those I cannot often they get that same feeling and I do not push to sign them up for lessons at the interview. I leave it at "Well, talk it over and let me know if you're interested." I also hand them and explain my policy during this time. Actually, I usually have the parent read through it while I work with the student. Rarely do I have someone call me back that I didn't want to sign up for lessons. This really helps me get the right student for my studio, and it allows the student to then keep searching for a teacher more suited to their personality and needs.
private piano/voice teacher FT

#1427213 - 04/30/10 02:39 PM Re: Semester Contracts [Re: Morodiene]
Betty Patnude Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/11/07
Posts: 4896
Loc: Puyallup, Washington
Welcome to the forum, Greg!

Can I recommend you google: "piano studio - policies"?

More info than you ever wanted will come up, but you will see how piano teaching and piano studios have been operating with guideline, requirement and rules for many, many years. You just might not have been aware of it.

Many teachers post policy on their websites, but certainly at the interview, and definitely before the first lesson, you need to spell out how you operate your business so that the parent or responsible party will know what is expected of them.

It's very professional to have things in written policy form.

It saves so much time on your part in answering questions one by one over the year. And there are no surprizes when you require a 30 day notice to terminate.

You want students and parents who are enthusiatic about your teaching and agreeable to yur tuition fees, payment method, due dates, attendance policy, and termination process.

Spell it out first for yourself. And then have the courage to make it a prerequisite to studying with you.

Betty Patnude

#1427220 - 04/30/10 02:48 PM Re: Semester Contracts [Re: Betty Patnude]
AZNpiano Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/07/07
Posts: 5749
Loc: Orange County, CA
You need to find out if other teachers in the area do semester billing. If the great majority of the teachers do monthly billing, then you will have a hard time persuading parents to pay per semester.
Private Piano Teacher and MTAC Member

#1427545 - 05/01/10 01:04 AM Re: Semester Contracts [Re: AZNpiano]
tdow Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/13/10
Posts: 203
Loc: Canada
As Betty mentioned - it's always best to ensure parents have a copy of your written policy as soon as they register with you. Your policies should be clear, fair and apply to everyone. Often teachers will require payment to contine for one month beyond the last lesson date - this gives you time to replace the student without losing income.

Have you delved further into why your students are often quitting mid-semester? If this is a frequent problem then maybe the retention issue is where you should be spending some time and thought? Even if they have signed a contract, you may have a hard time either teaching a reluctant student, or forcing them to stay...(are you really planning on taking them to court if they break your contract)?
Piano Teaching Resources with Personality

#1428057 - 05/01/10 10:43 PM Re: Semester Contracts [Re: tdow]
gregbeddon Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/23/10
Posts: 26
In the past few years, I usually only lose about 1 or 2 in a semester. This semester, I lost one to sports, 4 to lack of interest, and two just didn't show up. However, I have gained a few to make up for these losses.

#1428131 - 05/02/10 01:31 AM Re: Semester Contracts [Re: gregbeddon]
tdow Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/13/10
Posts: 203
Loc: Canada
All teachers have students who have other committments (like sports) that cause some students to drop out - that is almost unavoidable. It would be the 4 you lost to lack of interest that I would focus my attention on. Are you able to identify exactly what it is that caused their lack of motivation?
Piano Teaching Resources with Personality

#1428269 - 05/02/10 11:14 AM Re: Semester Contracts [Re: tdow]
gregbeddon Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/23/10
Posts: 26
1 "lack of interest student" was doing very well. He was playing fur elise and moonlight sonata after only about 1 year of study. Then, he just insisted on having a break.

2 others were brother and sister- they both did well, but the mom really pushed them to learn things. I always asked them what their interests in music where and they would say "mom wants me to play this and that"

The other was doing well and just decided to quit for some reason.

#1428359 - 05/02/10 01:56 PM Re: Semester Contracts [Re: gregbeddon]
Stanny Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/08/06
Posts: 1461
I charge by the semester and state in my policy there are no refunds, so I've not had a student drop out mid-semester. I worried when I first implemented it, but it actually gave the parents an easy excuse not to let their child quit.

Independent Music Teacher
Certified Piano Teacher, American College of Musicians


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