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#1499144 - 08/19/10 09:10 AM New student contract
Ben Crosland Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/11/10
Posts: 420
Loc: Worcester, UK
I've just drafted up a new student contract, and thought I'd run it by you good folk smile

Quote:
Glossary
For the purpose of this document, the word “student” shall come to mean the person receiving the lessons and/or the parent or guardian responsible for them.

1. Payment
Payment is due by the first lesson of each ‘term’. Payment shall include the sum total of all lessons that fall within the respective term. If payment is made by monthly standing order, the student agrees to continue payments until all lessons that fall within the period of notice have been paid for (see section 5.)

2. Term
A ‘term’ shall mean a sequence of lessons that fall within the time frame as defined in the current term letter. There shall be three terms per year comprising a total of 42 lessons per year. The specific number of lessons within each term will vary to fall roughly in line with the local state schools. We do not observe the ‘half-term’ holiday week, and lessons are expected to continue as normal in these weeks. We do not observe Bank Holidays, and lessons are expected to take place as normal on these days.

3. Annual Fee Increase
There shall be a small, annual increase in fees, to be implemented from the first lesson in January.

4. Allocated Time Slots
By making payment at the start of each term, the student agrees to abide by the terms and conditions as laid out in this contract, and thereby secures their agreed time slot indefinitely, so long as it remains practical for both the student and teacher.

The student agrees to attend their lesson at the specific time and day as scheduled for each term. If the student is late for a lesson, the lesson will still end at the scheduled time. The student must make every effort to leave their lesson quietly and promptly, to ensure minimum disruption to the following student. If the student requires time to discuss any issues regarding tuition, including payment etc, they must make time to do so at the beginning of the lesson, or alternatively arrange a time to discuss the matter on the telephone.

5. Notice to Quit
Notice to terminate lessons must be provided in writing with a minimum seven lessons prior notice. The student agrees to pay in full for all remaining lessons within the current term or notice period, whichever is the longer, regardless of whether they intend to take the lessons or not. No refunds will be given for any remaining lessons already paid for in advance.

6. Additional Fees

The student agrees to purchase any sheet music that is required for their studies. The use of photocopies of copyrighted material is not acceptable, and is forbidden by law. When the teacher has purchased music on behalf of the student, the student will remunerate the teacher in full within one week.

When a student is entered for an examination by the teacher, the student agrees to remunerate the teacher in full within one week.

7. Extra Lessons
When extra lessons are needed, for example before exams or concerts, these shall be chargeable at the current rate. Alternatively, they may taken as being in advance of any remaining lessons within the current term, or in place of any lessons previously missed by the teacher. Payment for additional lessons is due on the day of the lesson.

8. Lessons Missed By Student
Lessons missed by the student will not be made good, nor fees refunded. When sufficient notice (minimum 24 hours) is given of cancellation, the teacher may be able to allocate an alternative time slot that shall fall within the teacher’s normal teaching schedule, should one become available. If a mutually convenient time slot cannot be agreed upon before the end of the current term, that lesson shall be forfeit.

continued over


9. Lessons Missed By Teacher

Lessons missed by the teacher will be made good and, if possible, before the end of the current term. If it is not possible to make good these lessons within the current term, they will be credited to the following term.

9. Medical Conditions and Learning Difficulties

The student agrees to inform the teacher of any medical conditions that may manifest in lessons and/or any diagnosed learning difficulties that may affect the progress of the student.

10. Parking

We are allocated one parking space at the front of The Music Grove. This is the space by the wall, furthest away from the premises - none of the remaining spaces are to be used under any circumstances. When available, the student is allowed to park in our allocated space, but only within their allocated lesson time. Under no circumstances will students be permitted to use this parking space at other times. It is expected that the student will make every effort to vacate the space promptly, so as to make it available to the next student who may need it.

Contract

The terms of this contract shall remain in force until the agreed notice period has expired.


My primary concern is whether or not it is a) clear, and b) legally binding? Every so often we have the situation where someone just rings up at the start of the term and says they're quitting, and we currently have no recourse to go after them for the fees that they owe.

Do you think this contract would stand up in a small claims court?

cheers smile
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#1499162 - 08/19/10 10:04 AM Re: New student contract [Re: Ben Crosland]
Gerard12 Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/19/10
Posts: 757
Loc: South Carolina
Wow, there's a lot of conditions on there.

Is your 'studio' part of a larger retail business (like a music shop)? Then you can throw most of that contract out.

A lawyer might appreciate your contract, but I don't think a judge would (in the states, anyway). Maybe an arbitration board would be your best bet.


Edited by Gerard12 (08/19/10 10:07 AM)
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#1499163 - 08/19/10 10:06 AM Re: New student contract [Re: Gerard12]
Ben Crosland Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/11/10
Posts: 420
Loc: Worcester, UK
Originally Posted By: Gerard12
Wow, there's a lot of conditions on there.


Really? Compared to others I've seen posted on here, I thought it was pretty tame!

Quote:
If your 'studio' part of a larger retail business (like a music shop)? Then you can throw most of that contract out.{/quote]

It's not.

[quote]A lawyer might appreciate your contract, but I don't think a judge would (in the states, anyway).


Any particular reasons?

Thanks
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#1499175 - 08/19/10 10:27 AM Re: New student contract [Re: Ben Crosland]
rocket88 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/04/06
Posts: 3160
I don't know if it will stand up in court...you should consult a lawyer for that.

But in general, it comes off way too scary and legalese for me as a consumer.

For example, your parking rules sounds like the parking rules for visitors at the State Prison:

Quote:
We are allocated one parking space at the front of The Music Grove. This is the space by the wall, furthest away from the premises - none of the remaining spaces are to be used under any circumstances. When available, the student is allowed to park in our allocated space, but only within their allocated lesson time. Under no circumstances will students be permitted to use this parking space at other times. It is expected that the student will make every effort to vacate the space promptly, so as to make it available to the next student who may need it.


How about this instead:

Quote:
"Each teacher at the Music Grove is allowed only one spot for student parking. My student parking space is the one by the wall, furthest away from the premises. In consideration for other arriving students, please only park there, and also only during your lesson time. Thank you."


That says the same thing, but can you see the difference in tone?

Even if I heard good things about you as a teacher, I would, as a prospective student, run for the nearest exit because of the harsh tone of the document.

I would worry that, were I to take lessons, I might mistakenly slip up on one of the many rules and conditions, and be fined or terminated or flogged.
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#1499178 - 08/19/10 10:35 AM Re: New student contract [Re: Ben Crosland]
Gerard12 Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/19/10
Posts: 757
Loc: South Carolina
I need to ask if your business is incorporated?

In my own experience with small claims courts here in the states, judges would find this to be more of a nuisance than anything. And they'd be less inclined to get you the full amount of monies owed. I found out that it would be a lot easier if my practice was incorporated or an LLC.
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#1499207 - 08/19/10 11:35 AM Re: New student contract [Re: Gerard12]
D4v3 Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/07/09
Posts: 501
Loc: Fort Worth, Texas
"small annual fee increase"? How much we talking here, and how much time am I given to say no thank you to this increase before Im told I didnt give you enough notice to quit?

Why do you want fee increases for that matter? Are your skills appreciating over time? Anything more than 2-3% to account for inflation would have me looking elsewhere.

Oh, and there are no copyright laws on composers who have been dead for a long time. Why so stiff on that? See IMSLP.com for sheet music for free totally legal.


Edited by D4v3 (08/19/10 11:39 AM)
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#1499222 - 08/19/10 11:58 AM Re: New student contract [Re: D4v3]
bitWrangler Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/14/07
Posts: 1789
Loc: Central TX
Originally Posted By: D4v3
Oh, and there are no copyright laws on composers who have been dead for a long time. Why so stiff on that? See IMSLP.com for sheet music for free totally legal.


Not true, it's the actual specific publication that is copyrighted, not the conceptual work. Someone could publish their unique version of an existing Bach work today and it would be copyrighted. Take a look at imslp a little closer and you'll see what I'm talking about. This is one of the reasons that imslp had to shut down for a spell to clean up their library.

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#1499224 - 08/19/10 12:05 PM Re: New student contract [Re: rocket88]
bitWrangler Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/14/07
Posts: 1789
Loc: Central TX
Originally Posted By: rocket88
I don't know if it will stand up in court...you should consult a lawyer for that.

But in general, it comes off way too scary and legalese for me as a consumer.

For example, your parking rules sounds like the parking rules for visitors at the State Prison:

Quote:
We are allocated one parking space at the front of The Music Grove. This is the space by the wall, furthest away from the premises - none of the remaining spaces are to be used under any circumstances. When available, the student is allowed to park in our allocated space, but only within their allocated lesson time. Under no circumstances will students be permitted to use this parking space at other times. It is expected that the student will make every effort to vacate the space promptly, so as to make it available to the next student who may need it.


How about this instead:

Quote:
"Each teacher at the Music Grove is allowed only one spot for student parking. My student parking space is the one by the wall, furthest away from the premises. In consideration for other arriving students, please only park there, and also only during your lesson time. Thank you."


That says the same thing, but can you see the difference in tone?

Even if I heard good things about you as a teacher, I would, as a prospective student, run for the nearest exit because of the harsh tone of the document.

I would worry that, were I to take lessons, I might mistakenly slip up on one of the many rules and conditions, and be fined or terminated or flogged.


Consider that the host company (Music Grove) may tow cars that it finds in violation, so this might be out of the hands of the OP entirely. True, if this is the case, then the OP could still tone things down but put the "towing" part to help prevent any unfortunate incidences.

Beyond that though, the one parking space things sucks royally. After all, the next student usually arrives with a small amount of overlap with the previous. Not a big deal I guess if everything is always drop off/pick up vs park and enter, but this could actually be a big problem with folks like us who actually stay for lessons.

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#1499227 - 08/19/10 12:12 PM Re: New student contract [Re: Gerard12]
Basia C. Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/02/09
Posts: 358
Loc: Sweden
Disclaimer: I'm a student and English is my third language.

Harsh? To many conditions? crazy The tone is official and clear, not harsh, as far as I see it. If you read between the lines the condisions seem completely fair to me as a cutumer. If I had been writing something like that in Sweden it would have sounded somewhat similar. I find it clear and helpful.

I can see some thing that might be the issue that some of the posters react on from a US perspective. One thing is the level of politeness in the agreement. In the US I have a feeling that a lot of "please" and "thank you" are used, and that the text has a more kind of informal way of adressing the reader. But what I'm used to, is that there is a difference between how you phrase things in a contract, compared to how you phrase things in a information folder. The purpose of the information folder is to be welcoming and describe what the studio is like in clear and welcoming way, while on the other hand a contract must be clear and straightforward in order to avoid any misunderstandings. In a contract, it is the content that counts, and the content here does seem pretty reasonable to me.

Additionally, I think the US has a completely different attitude toward cars and parking then we have in large cities in Sweden, and apparently in th UK too. grin I wish we could have some more freedom when it comes to parking, but I'm not surprised about the text unfortunately.

To sum up, what to do about this? Ben should probably consider that UK conditions might be special, and check with teachers and parents in the area about what the proper language level should be. I agree with that the contract could be rewritten to be more welcoming, and one of the keys is maybe to give more focus on the positive things that the studio offers. Such as Rocket88's suggestion about parking.

Please note, I do believe there culture difference in this. I would not run away from Ben as teacher. However, please compare with other teachers phrasing.


Edited by Basia C. (08/19/10 12:16 PM)
Edit Reason: Language...
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#1499241 - 08/19/10 12:37 PM Re: New student contract [Re: D4v3]
Basia C. Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/02/09
Posts: 358
Loc: Sweden
Originally Posted By: D4v3
"small annual fee increase"? How much we talking here, and how much time am I given to say no thank you to this increase before Im told I didnt give you enough notice to quit?

Why do you want fee increases for that matter? Are your skills appreciating over time? Anything more than 2-3% to account for inflation would have me looking elsewhere.



I apologise for interfering again... It is actually very kind to write it this way. Ben does likely mean the inflation percents. And maybe, something more IF it is motivated by increased teaching skills or similar. There should definitly not be a sum in the contract. The student/parent choses if they want another term, so they can always stop if they are not happy about an upcoming increase. I agree it might be kind to give proper notice about an upcoming increase, so that ste student has the option to start looking for other teachers early, but myself, I starting lessons next week again after the summer break, and I don't know yet how much the music school will increase their fees, but expect it to reasonable and feel secure since I know it is coming. (There are no problems if I decide to quit when I find out the exact fee. I don't commit to anything before that.)

I am sorry if my comment is confusing, but I'm just trying to point out that the mentioning of that there will be small increases in the fee, is a polite way to prepare the parents so that they know what to expect. It gives the impressions that Ben's studio is helpful and honest and mentions things like that beforehand.
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#1499255 - 08/19/10 12:52 PM Re: New student contract [Re: Basia C.]
How To Practice Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 08/18/10
Posts: 9
Loc: Cornwall, UK
I notice that you've not stated under what conditions you would cancel lessons. I think this is an important part of the 'contract'.

I include things like persistent lateness, failing to bring materials to lessons on a regular basis and most importantly failure to practice between lessons. I have let several students go in the past for this reason.

It's good to have a section like this in your terms so that students and parents understand not just the financial commitment they are making but also the personal commitment that is required.
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#1499264 - 08/19/10 01:15 PM Re: New student contract [Re: How To Practice]
Monica K. Offline

Platinum Supporter until Dec 31 2012


Registered: 08/10/05
Posts: 17777
Loc: Lexington, Kentucky
I agree that the tone is rather off-putting. Would it scare me away from you as a teacher? Maybe not if my initial interviews with you assured me that you were actually human and a nice guy. smile If that were the only thing I found out about you, though, I probably would call some other prospective teachers first who seemed friendlier.

Would it hold up in court? There's really two issues here, which is that ANY contract can keep a team of dedicated lawyers happily entangled for as long as their clients' wallets hold out. That being said, I don't see any red flags that would invalidate your terms, though I hasten to add that I am not a lawyer.

The second issue is whether it would even be in your best interest to pursue a court case to the extent that lawyers and judges would be scrutinizing your contract language. My guess is that sending a scary letter threatening small claims court will be enough to get some people to cough up the money, but it wouldn't be worth the hassle and expense of filing a claim for those who are not easily scared.

As for specifics, I'd delete the #3 clause about fee increases. Since each contract is for a term/calendar year only, there's no need to tell clients what you're going to do in the NEXT contract, and all it will do is make your students nervous about what you mean by "small."

I personally find #9 especially off-putting. I understand your reason for wanting that information, but it comes across as an invasion of privacy. Again, as Basia notes, this may be a cultural issue, as HIPAA (medical privacy regulations) stuff is kind of a hot topic these days for Americans. I'd delete it and just ask ask that informally at an intake lesson. People who don't mind telling you will do so then. People who resent being asked that information probably will not say anything, despite a clause in a contract.

The part in #4 about securing a time slot waffles a bit too much and doesn't seem to have any teeth in it. How do you define "as long as it remains practical"? From whose perspective? There's so much wiggle room there that it doesn't offer firm protection for either side, so I probably would just delete it.

Good luck! It's important to have a good studio policy in writing, I think, but you also don't want to scare students off. smile
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#1499267 - 08/19/10 01:24 PM Re: New student contract [Re: Basia C.]
bitWrangler Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/14/07
Posts: 1789
Loc: Central TX
Originally Posted By: Basia C.
I can see some thing that might be the issue that some of the posters react on from a US perspective.


Actually I didn't catch snap to the fact that the OP wasn't in the US. I think that there are several factors that play into this, not just nationality.

First, this isn't a contract to transfer the contents of your estate, it's for piano lessons. I think a part of the negative sentiment about the phrasing used has more to do with the formality of the service being provided.

As for cars and parking, again, I think the type of area you live in affects your attitudes on parking. If you live in the downtown area of a large city (any large city, almost anywhere), then you are probably used to draconian parking rules. If you live out in the burbs, then having such hardcore rules might seem like overkill. Similar to the concept of paying for parking, downtown folks accept it as a part of life, folks from the burbs think it's a affront to their personal freedom.

Finally, in general I personally did not find the wording all that standoffish. Some things might need clarification (like the annual fee increase), but the tone didn't strike me as being a negative.

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#1499274 - 08/19/10 01:32 PM Re: New student contract [Re: bitWrangler]
Overexposed Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/22/08
Posts: 2647
Ben,
I would leave out the word "glossary". Just my 2 cents.

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#1499284 - 08/19/10 01:46 PM Re: New student contract [Re: Ben Crosland]
keystring Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11675
Loc: Canada
I'm only uncomfortable about the learning disability clause. These labels are often eroneous - it is a vague thing, and the circumstances under which they occur are varied and sometimes iffy. Often they happen at schools, which are institutions involving group things, while lessons are one-on-one. A parent may wish that you see their child as s/he is rather than being influenced by those labels and definitions of their child. It may be a valid stance on their part.


Edited by keystring (08/19/10 02:02 PM)
Edit Reason: added "only" and "on their part" for clarity.

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#1499303 - 08/19/10 02:04 PM Re: New student contract [Re: keystring]
bitWrangler Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/14/07
Posts: 1789
Loc: Central TX
Originally Posted By: keystring
I'm uncomfortable about the learning disability clause. These labels are often eroneous - it is a vague thing, and the circumstances under which they occur are varied and sometimes iffy. Often they happen at schools, which are institutions involving group things, while lessons are one-on-one. A parent may wish that you see their child as s/he is rather than being influenced by those labels and definitions of their child. It may be a valid stance.


An alternative might simply be to reword it to something more like:

Please state any particular strengths or weaknesses that you think I should know about your child or any other specific concerns you may have.

In this way any information being disseminated is explicitly based on the parents desire to make it known (and/or their assessment of whether the information is relevant in this context).

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#1499307 - 08/19/10 02:08 PM Re: New student contract [Re: keystring]
saerra Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/28/07
Posts: 842
Loc: Atlanta, GA
Hi Ben,

The parking thing would scare me too! I realize you probably have no control over how the store/center handles parking, but how does that work out? If the student before me parks there, wouldn't I have to sit in the parking lot and wait for them to leave before I could park, making me consistently late to my lessons? Yikes!

I also noticed that you request 7 weeks of notice for students who are leaving... and say that lessons already paid for are not refundable. It sounds like, if there are 10-11 weeks left in the semester and I give my 7 week notice - I would not get refund for the lessons remaining (after those 7 weeks)?

My concerns would be:
- 7 weeks seems long to me, personally. (My current school requires 1 month, so 4 weeks).
- Since some students will prepay for the term, why penalize them if they leave (by not refunding the prepaid lessons after the 7 week notification period)? Assuming they give proper notice? If I were reading this, and wanted to study with you, this would discourage me from prepaying for the term and instead encourage me to pay by the month, since then there would be no money to refund!

Just some more thoughts...

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#1499313 - 08/19/10 02:15 PM Re: New student contract [Re: saerra]
eweiss Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/28/09
Posts: 2393
Loc: Beautiful San Diego, CA
This contract is very 'teacher' centered instead of being student centered. That is, while it is a contract, it could be a lot friendlier. You're not accepting students into Julliard here are you? smile
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#1499340 - 08/19/10 03:06 PM Re: New student contract [Re: eweiss]
Ben Crosland Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/11/10
Posts: 420
Loc: Worcester, UK
Thanks for the feedback so far!

Some points I should clarify:

The Music Grove is a small, two teacher enterprise which my colleague and I run from a rented premises which is attached to a larger residential property near the town centre. There is room to park three vehicles at the front of this property, but the lease contract only allows us to use the one specific space. No matter how many times we tell people, they still occasionally park in the landlord's spaces when he isn't there - this gets his back up, and he complains to us about it. No other music schools in our town have any parking spaces available to students! The fact that we have one is a bonus! There is ample parking within the vicinity if our space isn't available - some of it free, some of it not.

The thing is, some students take ages vacating the space, and some even leave the car there after the lesson and go off to do some shopping - this is taking a liberty and is unfair to the other students. Hence the strong words - I agree though, I could tone it down a bit.

Lesson payment is paid by the term in full at our studio - some people pay us in installments, but these are taken either by post-dated cheques or bank transfers. I'm thinking that a monthly standing order is preferable to these, as it is easier to 'set and forget'.

We have always implemented a 'half-a-term's notice to quit' policy, but it has been difficult to enforce. The net result is that, while most people abide by this, some just ring up at the beginning of the term and cancel on the spot, because little Johnny/Jane hasn't practised through the holiday. The 7 lesson thing is half an average term. By making it legally binding, we make it fairer for those who do abide by the policy.

The annual fee increase is indeed to keep roughly in line with inflation. I figured that the word 'small' would be sufficient not to frighten people - I am loathe to commit to a specific percentage in writing. It will normally be around 3 percent, unless the economy goes batshit crazy... ahem...

I don't intend to make students sign this every year - rather, it should be a one-off at enrollment. We have never officially announced fee increases before, but this last January, we did get one parent giving us a hard time about this, so I figured that by clearly announcing it on the contract, it would give permanent 'notice' of the increase.

The learning disability clause was a last-minute idea that I threw in on a whim. If people think it's going to be offensive, then I guess we can just as easily take it out. However, I have found that parents sometimes forget to inform me that their child is dyslexic, for instance, and I think that this kind of information is important to know when you are teaching someone. I also have an epileptic student who has fitted in my lesson on numerous occasions - she did inform me before it happened for the first time, but I should add that she only did so on about the 3rd lesson. If she had fitted in those lessons before she told me, I would have very likely not have handled the situation as calmly as I did!


In the UK, booking (and therefore committing to) music lessons a term at a time is fairly standard practice. We are not prepared to refund lessons not taken if someone quits before the end of a term - why should we? A brand new student would have an opportunity to test us out in the trial lesson - I don't think it's unreasonable that we expect a commitment to at least a full term if they book up.

Regarding the photocopying - I thought the wording made it clear that it was "photocopies of copyrighted material" that are not acceptable? It does not say that all photocopies are prohibited - that would be shooting ourselves in the foot somewhat, as we mostly use photocopies of our own introductory material for the first year or so! Anyone else think my wording is ambiguous on this?
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#1499485 - 08/19/10 07:07 PM Re: New student contract [Re: Ben Crosland]
rocket88 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/04/06
Posts: 3160
Ben, I believe you could accomplish all your goals, and get all your points across with a far gentler and people-friendly tone.

That would not only accomplish your goals, but, because the tone would be friendly rather than adversarial, it should work to your advantage when a situation related to the contract arose, because people would not be so oft-put to begin with.

My father used to say, "You catch more flies with honey than you do with vinegar".

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#1499492 - 08/19/10 07:14 PM Re: New student contract [Re: Ben Crosland]
currawong Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/15/07
Posts: 5929
Loc: Down Under
I too think that little things could be altered to make the tone more friendly without changing the meaning.

For example:
Quote:
For the purpose of this document, the word “student” shall come to mean the person receiving the lessons ...
I don't quite know why, but if you substitute "means" for "shall come to mean" it sounds less like you're about to drag them into court right now. smile
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#1506538 - 08/31/10 10:17 AM Re: New student contract [Re: currawong]
Ben Crosland Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/11/10
Posts: 420
Loc: Worcester, UK
Thanks again for all the feedback smile

Here is a new draft, taking into account much of what has been suggested.

Quote:
Below are listed the terms and conditions which are necessary to ensure the smooth running of The Music Grove. Please take the time to read them through carefully, and to ask your teacher to clarify any section where necessary.

This document represents a contract between the student and their teacher, as named below. For the purpose of this document, the word 'student' shall mean the person receiving the lessons, and/or the parent/guardian responsible for that person. A ‘term’ shall mean the sequence of lessons that fall within the time frame as defined in the current term letter.

1.Terms and Holidays
Lessons take place weekly. There are 42 lessons per year, grouped into three terms. The specific number of lessons within each term will vary to fall roughly in line with the local state schools. We do not observe the ‘half-term’ holiday week, and lessons are expected to continue as normal in these weeks. We do not observe Bank Holidays, and lessons are expected to take place as normal on these days.

2. Payment
Payment is due by the first lesson of each ‘term’ and is payable directly to the teacher. Payment shall include the sum total of all lessons that fall within the respective term and shall entitle the student to attend one lesson per week at the agreed time for the duration of the term.

3. Annual Fee Increase
There shall be a small, annual increase in fees to keep roughly in line with inflation. This increase will be implemented from the first lesson in January.

4. Allocated Time Slots
By making payment at the start of each term, the student secures their agreed time slot indefinitely.
The student agrees to attend their lesson at the specific time and day as scheduled for each term. If the student is late for a lesson, the lesson will still end at the scheduled time.

5. Additional Fees
The student agrees to purchase any sheet music that is required for their studies. The use of photocopies of copyrighted material is not acceptable (and is forbidden by law!). When the teacher has purchased music on behalf of the student, remuneration is due within one week.
When a student is entered for an examination by the teacher, remuneration of the examination fee is due within one week of entry.

6. Extra Lessons
When extra lessons are needed, for example before exams or concerts, these shall be chargeable at the current rate. Alternatively, they may taken as being in advance of any remaining lessons within the current term, or in place of any lessons previously missed by the teacher. Payment for additional lessons is due on the day of the lesson.

7. Lessons Missed By Student
Lessons missed by the student will not be made good, nor fees refunded. When sufficient notice (minimum 24 hours) is given of cancellation, the teacher may be able to allocate an alternative time slot that shall fall within the teacher’s normal teaching schedule, should one be available. If a mutually convenient time slot cannot be agreed upon before the end of the current term, that lesson shall be forfeit.

8. Lessons Missed By Teacher
Lessons missed by the teacher will be made good and, if possible, before the end of the current term. If it is not possible to make good these lessons within the current term, they will be credited to the following term.

9. Notice to Quit
Notice to terminate lessons must be provided in writing with prior notice of a minimum seven lessons (half of an average term). The student agrees to pay in full for all remaining lessons within the current term or period of notice, whichever is the longer, regardless of whether they intend to take the lessons or not. If the notice period overlaps with the annual price increase, the amount due will be calculated at the current rate at the time notice is given. No refunds will be given for any remaining lessons already paid for in advance. If payment is made by monthly standing order, the student agrees to continue payments until all lessons that fall within the period of notice have been paid for.


I've tried to retain a formal tone, but with less attitude wink I still think it's important that people realise that it is a contract, which is why I'm loathe to make it read like a list of polite requests that they can ignore at their leisure.

I think it might be best to take out the Parking clause, and put it into a separate information leaflet - here is the new text, if you're interested:

Quote:

Parking
We are allocated one specific parking space out of the three at the front of The Music Grove. This is the space by the wall, furthest away from the premises - none of the remaining spaces are available to either the teachers or students of The Music Grove. When it is available, students are welcome to park in our allocated space, but only within their allocated lesson time. At the end of their lesson, it is requested students make every effort to vacate the space promptly, so as to make it available to the next student who may need it.


Originally Posted By: "eweiss"
This contract is very 'teacher' centered instead of being student centered. That is, while it is a contract, it could be a lot friendlier. You're not accepting students into Julliard here are you? smile


I'm not sure how or why I should change it to be 'student centred'? It clearly states that payment entitles them to a certain number of lessons - to what else should I commit myself in writing? And no, I'm not accepting students into Julliard, but I am nonetheless accepting them into a professional establishment of which I am proud. My colleague and I do not do this as a hobby or for charity - it is our livelihood, and as such we should expect no less respect or commitment from our clients than those of any other educational establishment, no matter how grand. To me, your tone seems to suggest we should just lighten up and let people mess us around, as we're only a couple of 'ordinary' piano teachers?


Edited by Ben Crosland (08/31/10 11:19 AM)
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#1506544 - 08/31/10 10:26 AM Re: New student contract [Re: Ben Crosland]
keystring Online   content
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Loc: Canada
Ben, reading through your contract something struck me. It's going to be incomprehensible to most people. It looks like it's written by lawyers for lawyers, and designed to stand up in a court of law in the event of a lawsuit (by you) of the client (your student). Secondly, people just don't ready big long things these days.

I rarely teach these days, but I do freelance with people coming in off the street. I find that I have to explain things to them very simply only stressing the essential things (simply). More than once. And even then, they get some of it wrong. Your contract is overwhelmingly huge, complicated, and intimidating. What about having this as fine-print, and the basic points written out simply in few words in the main part? You can use the fine print to back you up in case of dispute or misunderstanding.

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#1506564 - 08/31/10 11:18 AM Re: New student contract [Re: keystring]
Ben Crosland Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/11/10
Posts: 420
Loc: Worcester, UK
I've made some further edits to it, and thus to my recent post as well. I've chopped a few redundant sentences out and re-ordered it to put the scary stuff at the end - as far as I can tell, sections 1-8 now read as clear and informative. Section 9 "Notice To Quit" is deliberately written in a legalese style, as it needs to be, IMO.

I don't agree that it is 'overwhelmingly huge and complicated'. For instance, compared to the one smallpiano posted recently it has less than half the number of clauses!
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#1506578 - 08/31/10 11:43 AM Re: New student contract [Re: Ben Crosland]
Morodiene Online   content
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It's a fine line to walk between being thorough and simple. A policy is intended to be a legal document, as far as I'm concerned, for the protection of everyone involved. While no piece of paper can actually be legal-proof, often having these things spelled out can help clarify things for parents, should they need clarifying. If someone signs a document without reading it first, that is their own mistake.
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#1506587 - 08/31/10 12:05 PM Re: New student contract [Re: Morodiene]
Overexposed Offline
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Registered: 01/22/08
Posts: 2647
Ben, your new draft is a huge improvement! I like it. I especially like the words you chose "Lessons missed by student". I think I'll adopt that for my policy. smile

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#1506614 - 08/31/10 01:12 PM Re: New student contract [Re: Overexposed]
Ben Crosland Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/11/10
Posts: 420
Loc: Worcester, UK
Go for it, Anne! The first sentence of that clause was blatantly lifted from the policy of one of our competitors, anyway wink
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#1506641 - 08/31/10 02:05 PM Re: New student contract [Re: Ben Crosland]
keystring Online   content
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Registered: 12/11/07
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Loc: Canada
Quote:
I don't agree that it is 'overwhelmingly huge and complicated'.

I agree in principle. But never underestimate people's inability to understand. I have a step by step template instructing how to write a cheque, and I've had to *use* it more than once.

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#1506646 - 08/31/10 02:20 PM Re: New student contract [Re: keystring]
Monica K. Offline

Platinum Supporter until Dec 31 2012


Registered: 08/10/05
Posts: 17777
Loc: Lexington, Kentucky
I also think your contract is much improved, Ben, and I'm glad to see the paragraph about medical conditions taken out.

As it stands alone, the document does come across as rather legalistic and formidable. However, I'm assuming that students are given the contract in the context of a personal interview, where you can convince them of your friendliness and approachability through conversation.

The whole thing reminds me of the very long consent forms the govt. requires us to use when conducting research with human participants. The longer and more complicated the form is, the less the likely the subject is to read the danged thing before signing it. So an important part of the informed consent process is for researchers to go over, verbally, the crucial points to make sure potential participants understand what they're signing up for. I imagine that Ben does much the same thing in his initial interviews. The long form is intended mainly to be an official backup to policies made clear in a friendly conversation.
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#1506647 - 08/31/10 02:27 PM Re: New student contract [Re: Ben Crosland]
Mark_C Offline
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Registered: 11/11/09
Posts: 19776
Loc: New York
Question from someone who doesn't look at this section of the site very often and doesn't know about these things, and I imagine this is 'old hat' to most of you:

Does the benefit of having any kind of "contract" really outweigh the possibility of turning people off and making them look elsewhere? I would think it would not; to me, the mere thing seems like an extreme turn-off. But I realize that I just don't know, and that I'm biased by having grown up and taken lessons at a time when there wasn't any such thing.

Extending what Monica said (but I realize that she wasn't saying anything exactly like this) and along the lines of Keystring's post, I would think that if you need to have something in writing, it should be brief and very simple, and it should look like regular plain English.


Edited by Mark_C (08/31/10 02:35 PM)
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