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#2134139 - 08/17/13 12:20 AM monthly tuition - what to do with 5th week
purepassion Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/26/09
Posts: 26
Loc: Pasadena, California
Hi everyone,

I'm adjusting my policies for the new year. My plan is to charge a flat monthly fee for September through May lessons and have the number of lessons be variable. Most months will have four weekly lessons, some may have five and some may have fewer than four. My intent is not to charge more if there's a fifth lesson but I will also not charge less if the number falls below four. So if the student takes off two weeks in December, he/she will still pay the same amount.

I am offering the possiblity of one makeup lesson per month which will be held at my home on specific day and time (the last or next to last Saturday of the month). It's a two-hour period and students will be assigned slots on a first-come, first-serve basis. I'm a travelling teacher, and my hunch is that not a lot of students will make the effort to attend this lesson. If I end up having several students sign up, I may elect to make it a playing class, or some kind of fun group class on learning Garageband / electronic composition.*

(*Please note that giving lessons out of my home all the time is not an option. I have neighbors on the other side of my wall, and they most certainly will complain if they hear piano playing every day.)

I'd be interested to know your thoughts on this issue. To those of you whose policy is similar to this, how do clients react if they pay for four lessons but get only two (for example, they're taking off two weeks in December)? I feel it's a fair policy; there may be times when they get only two or three lessons, but other times when they'll get five. So it should even out.

One more question: if a student misses a fifth lesson (in a month in which there are five lessons) do you offer a makeup lesson for that missed lesson? I'm inclined to say no to this.

I've posted previously on other aspects of my policies and got lots of responses for which I'm very grateful.

Thank you!
_________________________
piano teacher, composer for film and games

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#2134233 - 08/17/13 08:10 AM Re: monthly tuition - what to do with 5th week [Re: purepassion]
Kreisler Offline


Registered: 11/27/02
Posts: 13773
Loc: Iowa City, IA
In my policy, I state that tuition covers 34 lessons during the school year, divided into 9 equal monthly payments.

I also talk to parents about and make sure they understand that tuition covers more than just contact hours.
_________________________
"If we continually try to force a child to do what he is afraid to do, he will become more timid, and will use his brains and energy, not to explore the unknown, but to find ways to avoid the pressures we put on him." (John Holt)

www.pianoped.com
www.youtube.com/user/UIPianoPed

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#2134237 - 08/17/13 08:23 AM Re: monthly tuition - what to do with 5th week [Re: purepassion]
piano2 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/26/11
Posts: 82
My schedule is the same as Kreisler's - have a fixed number of lessons, making the monthly payment the same each month. It is so much easier for the families to pay the same amount each month. Also easier for you - much less accounting, and no taking up extra time after the lesson figuring out the amount owed.

It is very basic math to figure this out - providing the formula for the parents would probably be helpful.

I think allowing the possibility for one make-up lesson per month is overly generous - it's just giving people permission to put other activities ahead of piano. Could you offer, say, 5 make-up lessons over a 10 month period? Then have make-up lesson days (as you described above) and people can use those up to 5 times.
That would mean that the 5th lesson in some months would not have to have special rules.

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#2134266 - 08/17/13 09:32 AM Re: monthly tuition - what to do with 5th week [Re: purepassion]
Mrs. Akers Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/03/12
Posts: 48
Loc: Kansas
Your plan is a good one, although I agree that you might want to be cautious about how many make-up lessons you offer. You're probably right -- they're not likely to want to come to your home, now that they're accustomed to lessons delivered to their door.

I charge tuition by the month, with no extra charge for months that have five weeks. This compensates for a reasonable number of absences; if they miss more than four times per year, I believe that's beyond reasonable, considering that would be more than a 10% absentee rate. I credit them for lessons which I have to cancel, including weather cancellations and holidays.

I set tuition a little beyond what I want to charge, and give them a 10% discount for paying on time. I did this because I was having difficulty collecting from some students. To them, they're getting a discount, but from my standpoint, I'm adding a penalty for late payment.

I offer make-up lessons, but only on the days that I normally teach, and only if I have a time slot available. I give my students a copy of my schedule with everyone's phone number, so that they can exchange times with another student if they so desire.

I have a written policy that I hand out to all new students, and when I update it occasionally, hand it out again to everyone. When a new student contacts me, I mail them the policy sheet before they enroll so that they know up front what the policies are. I've never had anyone choose to not enroll because of it. My policy states clearly that tuition is "per month, regardless of how many lessons you attend."

If a student enrolls in any course, be it a quilting class, a college course or a gardening class, they pay up front for the entire course of study. They are not refunded if they miss a class. Likewise, if a person rents an apartment, the rent is due up front for the entire month; if they leave for the weekend or take a vacation, they do not get refunded for the time they are away. They are renting the space, and since no one else can use the space, they must pay the rent. My students are renting my time. If they choose to not be there, that is certainly their prerogative, but not at my expense.

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#2134274 - 08/17/13 09:45 AM Re: monthly tuition - what to do with 5th week [Re: purepassion]
John v.d.Brook Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7343
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
I certainly agree that offering makeup lessons is overly generous, period. Why do you feel you need to offer parents two time slots for the price of one? Is that your business model?

Most parents/adult students come to the table with the mindset that the only issue involved is your providing them with instruction. The concept of offering your time, your studio availability, etc., never crosses their event horizon. Time, once past, is lost forever. And you, as a teacher are selling your knowledge of piano, your teaching skills and most importantly, your availability or time. When you offer a makeup lesson, you are actually offering parents/students two hours for the price of one.

I have argued in this forum and at other venues that teachers should never, never offer makeup lessons. But as a flexible individual, you can allow rescheduling of lessons, which means sufficiently in advanced so that you can balance other demands on your time and planned activities. In this instance, nothing is being made up as nothing has been lost.

The best way to approach this with your students/families is on a matter of fact basis, not emotional. "Lessons are at the scheduled time; other lessons, additional lessons will be charged at the going rate."
_________________________
"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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#2134295 - 08/17/13 10:31 AM Re: monthly tuition - what to do with 5th week [Re: purepassion]
laguna_greg Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/02/13
Posts: 1337
Loc: guess where in CA and WA
Boy, I'm all for what everybody has said so far!

As far as getting the parents clear about the new monthly payment, I've found that clear repetition of what this policy means can be very helpful. Not only do I put this in my written policy, I spend about 15 very precious minutes of the intake interview going over it with students and/or parents explaining what this is, how it will work, and what they're going to get. I emphasize the positive-

"It's much easier."
"You're guaranteed a minimum amount of contact, and possibly more for the same fee."
"It pays for all the lessons you come to, even the long months."
"It all comes out in the wash if you miss."
"It pays for everything." (except course books)
"You can opt out anytime you like without penalty."

I don't bother to explain what I'm getting out of it because customers don't care how service providers benefit from a business arrangement. So in your sales pitch (which is what this is), you have to make it clear how the new policy benefits them. If you think of yourself as a public utility like ATT or Edison, it will be easy to think up the pitch.

The check writers, whoever they are, usually get used to this whole arrangement after writing about 3 or 4 checks.

One thing. If you haven't already done this, you should calculate your 52-lesson year at your regular hourly rate, then prorate it for 9-, 10-, or however many months your teaching period is. That way, you'll make the same annual salary per student no matter how short the period is. Unless you have a summer job waiting for you in the down months, you will have to do something like this or suffer a serious decrease in pay in July/August. Usually, I bank the difference every month in a separate savings account set up just for reserve planning. When people stop for the summer, I just take the money out of savings and live like a king.

Lastly, your makeup strategy sounds like a much more workable option over the other plan you suggested before. Also, I can imagine that teaching Garage Band in a class will be a draw for some people, and a lot of fun!
_________________________
Laguna Greg

1919 Mason & Hamlin AA
1931 Bechstein C - now sold
http://www.triangleassociates-us.com/about_us (my day job)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dorothy_Taubman (a recent article I wrote about one of my teachers)

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#2134301 - 08/17/13 10:50 AM Re: monthly tuition - what to do with 5th week [Re: John v.d.Brook]
Morodiene Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 11685
Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
Originally Posted By: John v.d.Brook
I certainly agree that offering makeup lessons is overly generous, period. Why do you feel you need to offer parents two time slots for the price of one? Is that your business model?

Most parents/adult students come to the table with the mindset that the only issue involved is your providing them with instruction. The concept of offering your time, your studio availability, etc., never crosses their event horizon. Time, once past, is lost forever. And you, as a teacher are selling your knowledge of piano, your teaching skills and most importantly, your availability or time. When you offer a makeup lesson, you are actually offering parents/students two hours for the price of one.

I have argued in this forum and at other venues that teachers should never, never offer makeup lessons. But as a flexible individual, you can allow rescheduling of lessons, which means sufficiently in advanced so that you can balance other demands on your time and planned activities. In this instance, nothing is being made up as nothing has been lost.

The best way to approach this with your students/families is on a matter of fact basis, not emotional. "Lessons are at the scheduled time; other lessons, additional lessons will be charged at the going rate."


John, this is something that I'd like to ask you for clarification on. When I think of "make-up" lessons, I think that includes rescheduling in advance, because I do not make up lessons that are cancelled last minute or missed. The only exception is when a kid is sick.

So if you say that you can reschedule lessons, how do you avoid the problem with people always putting other things before piano lessons, knowing that you are always flexible?
_________________________
private piano/voice teacher - full time
MTNA member
www.valeoconservatory.com
Petrof 9'2 Concert, Yamaha G3, Roland FP-7, Yamaha MOX6, Kawai MP11

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#2134395 - 08/17/13 03:17 PM Re: monthly tuition - what to do with 5th week [Re: purepassion]
purepassion Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/26/09
Posts: 26
Loc: Pasadena, California
Such a great forum. Thank you all for your responses.

I guess the main issue here is fixed vs. variable lessons per month, and the viability of one system or the other. A uniform monthly payment could be applicable to either system.

The system I had this last year (2012-2013) was actually a fixed lesson plan -- 42 lessons over 52 weeks, with even payments over 12 months. I actually liked this system. It took away a lot of stress around cancellations and gave me some stability with my income. However, this was a contract agreement; some clients didn't like this and left, and new clients didn't seem to like it at all. (I did also offer pay-as-you-go lessons, but the market evidently wouldn't bear that pricing; no one took me up on it.) For this and other reasons, I'm dropping this system.

The system I had in the 10 or 11 years previous to 2012 was a fixed lesson system, still payable monthly, but offering refunds or credit forwarding for missed lessons. So the monthly payments were variable. My clients loved this system. But I'm not willing to do this any longer. For a traveling teacher especially, it's a huge hassle and quite stressful and it was very obviously devaluing my time.

I'm inclined to go with a system like Mrs. Akers: charging "tuition by the month with no extra charge for months that have five weeks." For me, the essential issue right now is how willingly clients will accept a fixed monthly payment with a varying number of lessons. I believe they may feel penalized having to pay the full amount when not using the weeks offered but will feel compensated later when getting an extra week of lessons (in the months with five lessons). The scenario I'm thinking of is NOT a client canceling a lesson because their child has an extra curricular event or illness. In this case, they will just have to lose the lesson or get a makeup if they can. I'm concerned with times during the school year in which families often leave -- Thanksgiving week, last two weeks of December, spring break (usually in April). They know they're going to be gone and they tell me well ahead of time, usually with the expectation that they will not have to pay for the lessons they don't take. What I'm going to say now is, yes, you ARE going to pay the same amount as usual, even if you are getting only two lessons instead of four. I don't believe they will accept that unless they know they're getting some compensation for this down the line. ("There are three months in which you'll get five lessons!").

I believe that even with the very compelling arguments that many of you make (clients "rent" our time, we teachers are selling our "availability of time", "tuition covers more than just contact hours"), clients are going to be focused on the product ("Here's my check. How many lessons am I getting....?"). I will certainly state clearly and upfront some of the ideas you've all expressed (in the previous sentence) in my policies, but thinking strictly in terms of what the market will bear, I just feel that the customers won't like fixed monthly payments with variable lessons unless they feel it's mostly pretty fair.

A good friend of mine has argued vehemently against providing lessons in the fifth week. The piano teacher of her child takes off the fifth week when it occurs. My friend feels I should just charge for the first four weeks of every month and take off days that occur for a fifth time in a month. Again, I'm worried about those times when families are away for a week or two during the school year.

As far as makeups, my preference is not to offer makeups as I go along -- that invites the clients to readily cancel / reschedule; I'd much prefer a fixed makeup date at my home rather than the client's home. Most of you seem to think that a once-a-month makeup lesson is too generous, and I'm beginning to agree. So I may offer it every other month. Something like: Oct, Dec, Feb, April, June.

Thanks again for all your thoughts!
_________________________
piano teacher, composer for film and games

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#2134398 - 08/17/13 03:24 PM Re: monthly tuition - what to do with 5th week [Re: purepassion]
asiantraveller101 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/31/08
Posts: 158
Loc: ME
On a fixed monthly payment plan, the fifth week for me goes toward the breaks that I will taking in the school year: Thanksgiving, Christmas and Spring break.
_________________________
JN

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#2134402 - 08/17/13 03:34 PM Re: monthly tuition - what to do with 5th week [Re: purepassion]
Mrs. Akers Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/03/12
Posts: 48
Loc: Kansas
I have a friend who does something similar to asiantraveller: She charges per month, and her students realize that they are getting four "free" weeks per year. She then takes four vacation weeks throughout the year, which absorb those unpaid weeks. She's not really getting a "paid" vacation, but her income stays more or less consistent, even when she's out of the studio.

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#2134406 - 08/17/13 03:38 PM Re: monthly tuition - what to do with 5th week [Re: Morodiene]
John v.d.Brook Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7343
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
Originally Posted By: Morodiene
John, this is something that I'd like to ask you for clarification on. When I think of "make-up" lessons, I think that includes rescheduling in advance, because I do not make up lessons that are cancelled last minute or missed. The only exception is when a kid is sick.

So if you say that you can reschedule lessons, how do you avoid the problem with people always putting other things before piano lessons, knowing that you are always flexible?

Morodiene, this probably goes to either where I grew up or changing vocabulary meanings. And thanks for asking, as I had meant to clarify but was getting called away from the computer at the time.

A makeup can only be done after the fact, not before. You simply cannot make up something which has not yet occurred, but of course, you can reschedule, if in our case, openings and availability are possible. Thus, the concept of rescheduling a lesson - but rescheduling before the event. Suppose you have a student who has a school program which requires them being present say at 5 PM on Thursday, and their normal lesson time begins at 5:15 PM on Thursday. If they will have the courtesy to call well in advance, I can possibly reschedule their weekly lesson time. I cannot carry it forward or leave it on a "to be filled at a later time" basis. Parents, if they are paying attention to the student's activities, knows full well that a dress rehearsal is coming up, so have ample time to call the studio and reschedule. Those who choose not to are either inconsiderate, not thoughtful, or their life is out of control. None of which is my problem as I cannot solve them.

To solve the problem of a parent who abuses the reschedule privilege, consider offering a time slot before school, say at 7 AM. This will probably not be convenient for them after one or two reschedules.
_________________________
"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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#2134426 - 08/17/13 04:25 PM Re: monthly tuition - what to do with 5th week [Re: purepassion]
piano2 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/26/11
Posts: 82
Purepassion - you write that you want to avoid the holidays that come up for the children in school. Most teachers take their holidays at those times as well - no one pays for those lessons.
A 2 week Christmas Break and 1 week Spring Break is standard in Canada, where I'm from. Piano teachers don't expect students to pay for or attend lessons on those weeks.

I still think the fixed monthly amount makes the most sense:

(#of lessons) x (price of lessons) / number of months = amount per month

Using the fixed amount means that you assume the student will continue for the entire 10 month period. It means that the parent is paying for the total number of lessons rather than a certain number each month. I can't see there being very many parents that can't understand this. When I switched to this a few years ago, there was no problem with the parents. Not at all.


If you look at the 5th week controversy - if you think of what is best for the students, it is better for them to have a lesson on the 5th week rather than skipping a week. There are enough other reasons for kids to miss lessons - take the 5th week as another opportunity to teach your students. And charge them for their lessons during the 5th week.

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#2134601 - 08/17/13 11:51 PM Re: monthly tuition - what to do with 5th week [Re: purepassion]
laguna_greg Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/02/13
Posts: 1337
Loc: guess where in CA and WA
Hi Pure,

" They know they're going to be gone and they tell me well ahead of time, usually with the expectation that they will not have to pay for the lessons they don't take. "

What I did with my regular students is that if they went away for vacations of less than a month, they paid anyway. I would always point out to them that it "came out in the wash", which it usually did, and I was only able to offer the "discount" if they paid every month. Otherwise my prices would have to go up substantially. A few thoughts:

1- If they don't want to to do this, you don't want them as customers.

2- They can always go somewhere else where they think they'll get better value for the money.

3- If you don't insist on this point, you will lose your shirt eventually. The cost basis and profit margins in a piano studio are necessarily thin as it is, and it won't allow for much leeway in the negative before you run into problems.

4- You can always make exceptions as you think necessary.

5- ATT and your local junior college do not refund service or classes the student misses when they can't make it. Just the opposite! They make the student responsible for ALL the work they missed, or they fail them at test time. No refunds if you fail or miss. Same goes for ATT. Even if you don't use the phone a single minute, ATT still charges you the same amount every month. You have to pay it, or they just cancel your service and send your account to collections. There is no discussion or negotiation on this point, just a long conversation at the end of that process with a nasty collections agent, who can garnish your wages and harass you until you die or pay. You want the service? You pay the bill whether you like it or not, or use it or not.
_________________________
Laguna Greg

1919 Mason & Hamlin AA
1931 Bechstein C - now sold
http://www.triangleassociates-us.com/about_us (my day job)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dorothy_Taubman (a recent article I wrote about one of my teachers)

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#2134720 - 08/18/13 08:28 AM Re: monthly tuition - what to do with 5th week [Re: John v.d.Brook]
Morodiene Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 11685
Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
Originally Posted By: John v.d.Brook
Originally Posted By: Morodiene
John, this is something that I'd like to ask you for clarification on. When I think of "make-up" lessons, I think that includes rescheduling in advance, because I do not make up lessons that are cancelled last minute or missed. The only exception is when a kid is sick.

So if you say that you can reschedule lessons, how do you avoid the problem with people always putting other things before piano lessons, knowing that you are always flexible?

Morodiene, this probably goes to either where I grew up or changing vocabulary meanings. And thanks for asking, as I had meant to clarify but was getting called away from the computer at the time.

A makeup can only be done after the fact, not before. You simply cannot make up something which has not yet occurred, but of course, you can reschedule, if in our case, openings and availability are possible. Thus, the concept of rescheduling a lesson - but rescheduling before the event. Suppose you have a student who has a school program which requires them being present say at 5 PM on Thursday, and their normal lesson time begins at 5:15 PM on Thursday. If they will have the courtesy to call well in advance, I can possibly reschedule their weekly lesson time. I cannot carry it forward or leave it on a "to be filled at a later time" basis. Parents, if they are paying attention to the student's activities, knows full well that a dress rehearsal is coming up, so have ample time to call the studio and reschedule. Those who choose not to are either inconsiderate, not thoughtful, or their life is out of control. None of which is my problem as I cannot solve them.

To solve the problem of a parent who abuses the reschedule privilege, consider offering a time slot before school, say at 7 AM. This will probably not be convenient for them after one or two reschedules.


Thank you for clarifying. This is how I see it as well. We have decided to allow 2 reschedules per semester, and those are to be made on designated dates. That way, we don't have to use our otherwise "free" time to give to a student who has a conflict in their schedule. Of course, we can at our discretion reschedule for a later time that week should we wish to. To qualify for a rescheduled lesson, one has to cancel 24 hours prior to the lesson, unless their sick, in which case notice must be given as soon as possible. Any exceptions can be made by the teacher, but we're trying to cut down on being the lowest on the totem pole when it comes to deciding who to reschedule.
_________________________
private piano/voice teacher - full time
MTNA member
www.valeoconservatory.com
Petrof 9'2 Concert, Yamaha G3, Roland FP-7, Yamaha MOX6, Kawai MP11

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#2134764 - 08/18/13 10:31 AM Re: monthly tuition - what to do with 5th week [Re: purepassion]
Stanny Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/08/06
Posts: 1461
I do the same as a lot of people. Piano lessons are the same each month and it doesn't depend upon how many private or group lessons or recitals there are in any given month. Actual time spent with the student is just a percentage of what we do to teach: we take whole days to work at piano festivals, we attend conferences and teacher's meetings, we research and buy new music and put a lot of thought as to what curriculum a student will follow, not to mention our studio expenses.
_________________________
~Stanny~

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

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#2134825 - 08/18/13 12:50 PM Re: monthly tuition - what to do with 5th week [Re: purepassion]
Peter K. Mose Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/06/12
Posts: 1335
Loc: Toronto, Ontario
One could easily avoid the perception dilemma of the "three-week month" or the "five-week month" if billing is not monthly, but less often.

But here's another question I have for everyone: do you explain, or publish, your rates as a yearly sum, or as a per-lesson rate? My guess is that most of us independent teachers do it as a per-lesson rate, even though we conceive of our rates more as a yearly sum of tuition, that gets billed at whatever intervals we select.

I think some of my students might freak out if they saw my rates listed as a lump sum by the year (i.e., by 35 lessons from September to June), even though this is precisely what they pay, and pay gladly. Certainly presenting a lump sum would scare off many new students.

Stanny and Morodiene are running schools, though, so perhaps they are more courageous than I am.

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#2134857 - 08/18/13 02:09 PM Re: monthly tuition - what to do with 5th week [Re: purepassion]
piano2 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/26/11
Posts: 82
I explain/publish my rates as per lesson as well as yearly. I also ask for either one cheque to cover the whole 10 months, or 10 monthly cheques, each for the same amount.
I like that there is no confusion about whether it's a yearly commitment or not. If a family decides to stop taking lessons, one month is forfeited, but I do have to refund the remaining amount.

I only have one adult student, and with her I take a per lesson approach. She is a senior citizen and I am able to teach her in the daytime in non-peak piano teaching hours.

Upon looking at websites of other piano teachers, I see that many of them do publish the yearly amount.

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#2134908 - 08/18/13 03:50 PM Re: monthly tuition - what to do with 5th week [Re: purepassion]
Stanny Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/08/06
Posts: 1461
I publish my tuition as yearly. In the next sentence, I give the amount for 2x a year (half the yearly tuition plus a small amount), or divided by 11 months (the 12th month is actually the registration fee for the next year).

Peter, I'm an independent teacher. I just named my studio "school." And I only seem brave because I've done it this way for a while. When I first switched from "per lesson", I was a bit nervous, but my students caught on and actually appreciated not having to keep up with paying for each individual lesson.

I don't have any adult students. I'm asked all the time, but I enjoy teaching children and youth and haven't had the inclination to take on an adult student.
_________________________
~Stanny~

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

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#2134920 - 08/18/13 04:09 PM Re: monthly tuition - what to do with 5th week [Re: Peter K. Mose]
John v.d.Brook Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7343
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
Peter, I don't quote "by the lesson" rates, unless I'm talking with an adult student or a "special" student who just needs a few lessons to tweak this or that. But I suppose that if a parent pressed hard, I'd reply something like this:

Well, tuition is $1,600, so if you showed up for one lesson, then the rate would be $1,600 per lesson. If you showed up for two lessons, then it would $800 per lesson. If you showed up for 10 lessons, then it would be $160 per lesson.
_________________________
"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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#2135158 - 08/19/13 02:36 AM Re: monthly tuition - what to do with 5th week [Re: purepassion]
Peter K. Mose Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/06/12
Posts: 1335
Loc: Toronto, Ontario
We all handle these matters a bit differently, and we all explain them a bit differently. And some of us - that would be me - end up being less clear than intended.

While my rates are by the lesson, payment is not by the lesson. My students pay quarterly tuition and understand that their commitment to me is for one academic year at a time (September to June). I try to accommodate occasional lesson changes (i.e. make-up lessons) for whatever the student's reason, but I warn them not to ask such a favor of me too often, and I ask for 72 hours of advance notice. Seems to work.

Now and again some adult wants to see me on an ad hoc, no-commitment basis. Maybe for coaching. Maybe because they travel a lot. I might say yes if I'm interested, but at a higher than normal fee.


Edited by Peter K. Mose (08/19/13 02:39 AM)

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#2135225 - 08/19/13 08:22 AM Re: monthly tuition - what to do with 5th week [Re: Peter K. Mose]
John v.d.Brook Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7343
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
Peter, when I was a young teacher, I got my belly full of the parents who started their children several weeks or more late in the Fall, and always found a reason to quite attending lessons in late May. This was bad for the student's learning, obviously it hurt my income, and it was extremely frustrating - suddenly you have gaping holes in your teaching schedule, your annual recital has been torpedoed, to say nothing about the average cost per student for that event climbing. That's what caused me to initially consider annual tuition. It took one year for parents to adjust to the concept. When new families called and asked how much I charged per lesson, my answer was "I don't. Students pay tuition, enrollment fee, which covers the entire school year." There are a total of 52 lessons through the school year; 36 individual lessons and the remainder offered as group lessons. Parents to whom the cost of lessons is more important than the quality of the teacher can go through the mental gyrations and come up with what ever figure suits their fancy.
_________________________
"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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#2135253 - 08/19/13 09:17 AM Re: monthly tuition - what to do with 5th week [Re: purepassion]
Morodiene Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 11685
Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
I quote tuition on a semester and a monthly basis only. The monthly rate is 5% more than the semester rate if they did the math (and I do let them know they are paying more for monthly). I don't quote the hourly although that figure could be calculated.
_________________________
private piano/voice teacher - full time
MTNA member
www.valeoconservatory.com
Petrof 9'2 Concert, Yamaha G3, Roland FP-7, Yamaha MOX6, Kawai MP11

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#2135274 - 08/19/13 10:15 AM Re: monthly tuition - what to do with 5th week [Re: Morodiene]
John v.d.Brook Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7343
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
Originally Posted By: Morodiene
I quote tuition on a semester and a monthly basis only. The monthly rate is 5% more than the semester rate if they did the math (and I do let them know they are paying more for monthly). I don't quote the hourly although that figure could be calculated.

Doesn't this add unnecessary complexity to your life? Nov has 6 lessons (4 individual, 2 group), Dec has 5 lessons (3 individual, 2 group), Jan has 7 lessons (5 individual, 2 group). Why wouldn't a penny pinching parent think to themselves, "Well, Dec is a short month, so we'll just skip it. Can't be too much of a loss." Even with a 5% surcharge for lessons by the month, you're still going to be shortchanged.

FWIW, I do my 2 group lessons back to back, covering music theory/history etc during the first 45 min and then performance class for the second 45 min.
_________________________
"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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#2135278 - 08/19/13 10:20 AM Re: monthly tuition - what to do with 5th week [Re: John v.d.Brook]
Morodiene Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 11685
Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
Originally Posted By: John v.d.Brook
Originally Posted By: Morodiene
I quote tuition on a semester and a monthly basis only. The monthly rate is 5% more than the semester rate if they did the math (and I do let them know they are paying more for monthly). I don't quote the hourly although that figure could be calculated.

Doesn't this add unnecessary complexity to your life? Nov has 6 lessons (4 individual, 2 group), Dec has 5 lessons (3 individual, 2 group), Jan has 7 lessons (5 individual, 2 group). Why wouldn't a penny pinching parent think to themselves, "Well, Dec is a short month, so we'll just skip it. Can't be too much of a loss." Even with a 5% surcharge for lessons by the month, you're still going to be shortchanged.

FWIW, I do my 2 group lessons back to back, covering music theory/history etc during the first 45 min and then performance class for the second 45 min.
It is very clear in our policy that the monthly payments are installments on the semester tuition. Perhaps at some point we will go to strictly payment per semester, but for right now we are making a lot of changes for current students to get them up to speed. My biz partner's students were accustomed to paying per lesson. Mine are used to paying per month, but they know that they are enrolled for the school year and to cancel they need 30 days' notice. Penny-pinching parents are weeded out. If they choose not to come to December's lessons, they still pay for December, and the vast majority of our students love their lessons and so they won't pull this sort of thing.
_________________________
private piano/voice teacher - full time
MTNA member
www.valeoconservatory.com
Petrof 9'2 Concert, Yamaha G3, Roland FP-7, Yamaha MOX6, Kawai MP11

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#2135315 - 08/19/13 11:19 AM Re: monthly tuition - what to do with 5th week [Re: Morodiene]
John v.d.Brook Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7343
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
I see, so you're actually charging a tuition, but parents have the option of paying by the month, with a slight surcharge. Ditto here. At first, I had the impression you offered by-the-month lessons as well.
_________________________
"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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#2135403 - 08/19/13 01:12 PM Re: monthly tuition - what to do with 5th week [Re: purepassion]
Betty Patnude Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/11/07
Posts: 4896
Loc: Puyallup, Washington
I have gotten to the point in tuition fees where I charge the same amount every month of the year for 4 lessons per month. I receive the same amount whether my studio is open or closed for lessons.

And, if a student needs extra time with me for a special project in music, I will give extra time because it contributes to our relationship, meets the students needs, and is good for my business but this doesn't happen often.

I also will reschedule a student when they request it as long as the notice is in advance; absences require a 24 hour notice or emergency status in order to have a make up. I work long hours in my studio office every day doing something or other that increases my piano teaching knowledge, makes my teaching more efficient or effective, networking with teacher on forums.

There are a million and one things that occupy my mind and time in music and in music teaching when I am not scheduled with a student. And, I design my own materials to teach music concepts and have a collection of public domain or shared materials from other teachers that I print from my computer. I use only supplemental music written by music education composers as a method book for beginners and continuing levels.

I am fully engaged in music almost 365 days per year and that is what my students are paying for. My rate is low enough that it affordable and does not overwhelm anyone's budget. I am a firm believer that the outcome of my work with students is the main criteria for all decisions I make in my music teaching and in the operation of my business.

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#2135665 - 08/19/13 09:42 PM Re: monthly tuition - what to do with 5th week [Re: Betty Patnude]
laguna_greg Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/02/13
Posts: 1337
Loc: guess where in CA and WA
" I am a firm believer that the outcome of my work with students is the main criteria for all decisions I make in my music teaching and in the operation of my business."

Betty,

You can say that again. I tell my students that if they do it my way, I can guarantee certain results. If they don't do it my way, then I can guarantee nothing and the outcome will be uncertain at best. Which is why I insist that everybody who comes to me for lessons does it my way.
_________________________
Laguna Greg

1919 Mason & Hamlin AA
1931 Bechstein C - now sold
http://www.triangleassociates-us.com/about_us (my day job)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dorothy_Taubman (a recent article I wrote about one of my teachers)

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