Cancellations due to Insufficient Practice

Posted by: eccp19

Cancellations due to Insufficient Practice - 07/02/13 06:38 AM

Teachers,

On a pay per lesson basis, how do you treat situations where parents ask to cancel because their child has not had enough practice time due to being away for part of the week?

In my case, the student in question is usually well-prepared for lessons and I have a good relationship with the family.

Thanks for your thoughts.
Posted by: rada

Re: Cancellations due to Insufficient Practice - 07/02/13 07:01 AM

Practice is important so is consistency of lessons on both the part of the student and the teacher. There is always something to learn.Charging for lessons monthly might help too.

rada
Posted by: John v.d.Brook

Re: Cancellations due to Insufficient Practice - 07/02/13 07:13 AM

Originally Posted By: eccp19
On a pay per lesson basis, how do you treat situations where parents ask to cancel because their child has not had enough practice time due to being away for part of the week?

My first reaction is to reiterate that lessons are not commodities and should, as a general rule, not be taught on a per lesson basis. There are obvious exceptions which we don't need to reiterate here, but for teaching students throughout the school year, teachers are well advised to introduce parents to the concept that they're purchasing an educational process very similar to taking a course at a local university. Best results are achieved by constant attendance, even when lesson preparation falls short.
Posted by: Peter K. Mose

Re: Cancellations due to Insufficient Practice - 07/02/13 10:02 AM

Students (or their parents) are often tempted to cancel lessons for lack of practice. It's up to you what to do in such a situation: many of us charge tuition, based on weekly lessons, so that we are not hurt in the wallet when little Johnny doesn't show up.

Educationally, rada and John have both explained it well: regular lessons are best, even in the absence of practicing.

If you see your student weekly, you could simply explain you will charge for the missed lesson (even if you are paid per lesson), though I doubt the parents would accept this. But that's ok, they would just decide in such case to send little Johnny over for his lesson.

Basically you have to decide which is more important to you: students' home practice or your steady income. It's a goofy trade-off, but there we are.
Posted by: dumdumdiddle

Re: Cancellations due to Insufficient Practice - 07/02/13 10:52 AM

Mmm... so the parent is punishing YOU for their child not practicing. Is that something you wish to continue?
Posted by: asiantraveller101

Re: Cancellations due to Insufficient Practice - 07/02/13 11:12 AM

Summer time, ok. Regular school term, NO. Reiterate the fact that the kid works best under a regular lesson routine. Even if he does not practice, coming for lessons still helps since you are supervising his playing/practice. Tell the parent that weekly lesson is hard enough, and you don't want him to practice the wrong stuff.
Posted by: casinitaly

Re: Cancellations due to Insufficient Practice - 07/02/13 12:04 PM

I started telling parents that I don't accept cancellations, I will accept rescheduling if there is enough notice.

I have them pay at least a month in advance, and the lesson has to be made up within the month. If they can't fit into a slot I offer them, they lose a lesson they've paid for.

So far so good.

(I don't teach piano, but I do teach private lessons - many of the problems piano teachers have, I have too).
Posted by: eccp19

Re: Cancellations due to Insufficient Practice - 07/02/13 12:11 PM

Great thoughts. I am transitioning over to a tuition basis which makes 100% more sense than a per lesson basis as some teachers here have brought up. Thanks for the posts.
Posted by: bmbutler

Re: Cancellations due to Insufficient Practice - 07/02/13 03:30 PM

Not really anything you can do if you are going pay per lesson basis. Try even going pay a month in advance and I about guarantee you that will stop. If you lose a student or two because of it, they weren't serious anyway (their parents at least!)
Posted by: KurtZ

Re: Cancellations due to Insufficient Practice - 07/07/13 04:08 PM

There is ALWAYS something productive to be done at a lesson. After a week, it will be soon enough to check for rough spots, to find out what's been forgotten or to lay the groundwork for moving further into a piece. Rhythm practice. Follow the leader ear training, improv games, etc. etc. Stress to the parent the value in the opportunity to do these change of pace exercises. Do your best to to send the child home with a "victory" so the child answers positively when asked how the lesson went and you should see these kinds of requests reduced. Heck, I was at time tempted not to practice so I could talk my teacher into some easy duets. ; )

Kurt
Posted by: MaggieGirl

Re: Cancellations due to Insufficient Practice - 07/07/13 11:01 PM

That makes me so mad for you! Just because a kid doesn't do homework doesn't mean he should miss the next day of school, why should piano be different? If you miss something, you just work harder to catch up.

I would make sure to talk to the parent about how the student gets even more behind when he not only doesn't do homework, but doesn't come to his lesson. At the least, the lesson can just re-cover what was learned. There is no way the student could have retained it for so long.
Posted by: Stanny

Re: Cancellations due to Insufficient Practice - 07/08/13 07:03 PM

You will be pleasantly surprised at how few cancellations you will get when you have a no-cancellation policy. Suddenly kids are sick as much, and they actually practice more because their parents know they are still paying for the lessons.
Posted by: Laurie R.

Re: Cancellations due to Insufficient Practice - 07/15/13 10:00 PM

I agree with KurtZ.

I don't accept lack of practise as an excuse. But every once in a while, it happens to the best of us. I encourage my students to come anyway, saying "OK, we'll do something different this week!"

I use this as a great opportunity to explore something else. To record some pieces from the student's repertoire, or to talk about jazz, or improvisation, or how a piano works, OR sight-read some duets!

I often find that these lessons are the most productive and the most fascinating!
Posted by: Gary D.

Re: Cancellations due to Insufficient Practice - 07/16/13 12:46 AM

Originally Posted By: Stanny
You will be pleasantly surprised at how few cancellations you will get when you have a no-cancellation policy. Suddenly kids are sick as much, and they actually practice more because their parents know they are still paying for the lessons.

But you will also see kids show up who ARE sick, and then it is very hard to tell them that they can't be there.
Posted by: laguna_greg

Re: Cancellations due to Insufficient Practice - 07/16/13 02:23 AM

Hi Gary,

It's not hard at all. You stand "en loco parentis". Grow a spine.
Posted by: AZNpiano

Re: Cancellations due to Insufficient Practice - 07/16/13 02:27 AM

Originally Posted By: laguna_greg
Hi Gary,

It's not hard at all. You stand "en loco parentis". Grow a spine.

I don't follow the logic of these three sentences.
Posted by: btb

Re: Cancellations due to Insufficient Practice - 07/16/13 03:30 AM

Get your money up front ... with the agreement that cancellations
are to the account of the student.
Posted by: keystring

Re: Cancellations due to Insufficient Practice - 07/16/13 11:59 AM

Originally Posted By: laguna_greg


It's not hard at all. You stand "en loco parentis". Grow a spine.


It takes "spine" to have a sense of FAIRNESS. If you have a policy that will not allow a sick child to postpone a lesson, then it is unfair to turn away a sick child who shows up for lessons. That is the specific thing that was being addressed.

I also think it wrong to not allow for sickness. Any business contract between businesses will have clauses for such events. And IF you are giving rules for parents to abide by, then you are not "en loco parentis" because you are addressing the parents, and giving them rules.
Posted by: Chris H.

Re: Cancellations due to Insufficient Practice - 07/16/13 12:44 PM

I have a strictish no cancellations policy which works most of the time although I am forever having some parents trying to get round it or ignore it. This does mean that some kids turn up to lessons when they are sick which is unfortunate. Ideally I would like to be able to say that cancellations due to illness were acceptable but it just ends up getting abused. Every time someone wants to cancel they will simply say they are sick in order to get round your policy.

Something which happens frequently is the parent will call me to tell me their child is sick and ask if I would still like them to come to the lesson. If I say no then technically it's me who has cancelled and they are then entitled to a make up or refund. This can be a problem.

Going back to the original question though, cancellations due to lack of practice are not at all acceptable.
Posted by: ezpiano.org

Re: Cancellations due to Insufficient Practice - 07/16/13 01:43 PM

Originally Posted By: Chris
Every time someone wants to cancel they will simply say they are sick in order to get round your policy.

That is very true. That is why I stop asking the reasons for canceling and start offering unlimited make up lesson with no credit forward next month and no refund as my backbone.

Parents can cancel as much as they want, but they also pay for those lessons that they cancel, and need to find extra time to make those lesson up. Furthermore, now my scheduling is automated by website software, so, I do not need to deal with scheduling the make up lesson, parents just have to do it themselves online
Posted by: Minniemay

Re: Cancellations due to Insufficient Practice - 07/16/13 02:45 PM

I don'[ allow sick students in the studio. I have 6-7 group lessons per year that can be used as make-up lessons. I also have a swap list (new this year). We'll see how it goes.
Posted by: dynamobt

Re: Cancellations due to Insufficient Practice - 07/16/13 03:41 PM

My teacher has one excused absence per 16 week semester. The student must cancel 24 hours before the lesson to be able to make the lesson up. There is a "make up week" following he 16 regular weeks of lessons. Paying for a semester at a time and having a regular lesson time is a joy!!! I was taking from a college music teacher who would cancel lessons all the time because of her busy schedule. I do better with a lesson every week. It hold me accountable. Otherwise, it's too easy not to practice!!
Posted by: Sweet06

Re: Cancellations due to Insufficient Practice - 07/16/13 04:48 PM

@dynamobt
i think the best part about lessons is that my pride will not let me not practice because showing up with 0 practice would be SO embarassing.

my first real lesson i showed up with no practice, i honestly didn't know i had to practice every day and the teacher owned me haha. never again.
Posted by: dynamobt

Re: Cancellations due to Insufficient Practice - 07/16/13 04:54 PM

When my teacher was cancelling lessons, it got easy for me to cancel lessons. Result was some serious inconsistency!!! I really like having a regularly scheduled lesson that I can count on happening. We catch areas I have practiced incorrectly more quickly before they are thoroughly ingrained in my mind and fingers.

I was terrible at effective practice as a kid. Oh, I had to practice EVERY day!! I just don't think I got much done. Now is a bit better as an adult. I realize I really want to play more difficult music. And that isn't going to happen by just showing up at lessons. I have to apply myself!!! Plus, I'm running out of time! Not getting any younger!!
Posted by: dumdumdiddle

Re: Cancellations due to Insufficient Practice - 07/16/13 06:14 PM

I operate with a 'no makeup' policy. I can also choose to alter that policy, depending upon the student (their consistency and commitment to lessons), the parent (are they easy to get along with, pay their tuition on time, etc...) and my schedule. There is no way I could have such a policy if I were canceling lessons several times a year for various conflicts, illnesses, and such.
Posted by: Bernard

Re: Cancellations due to Insufficient Practice - 07/17/13 01:03 AM

If this is not a recurring incident (it does not sound like it is as you state the student is usually well prepared) I would encourage the parent(s) to honor the lesson anyway as we could still work on the 'unpracticed' material together. However, if I perceived continued hesistation I would suggest a make-up if time allowed and if it made sense, or I would simply say I'll see them next time.* It's not the end of the world if a student misses a lesson now and then. It's a problem only when a missed lesson is indicative of a disinterested student or undisciplined parent.

*(I should disclaim that I was not dependent on teaching for the main source of my income which allowed me to be quite flexible in my studio policy.)
Posted by: Gary D.

Re: Cancellations due to Insufficient Practice - 07/17/13 03:27 AM

Originally Posted By: laguna_greg
Hi Gary,

It's not hard at all. You stand "en loco parentis". Grow a spine.

Is this to me personally? "Grow a spine?"
Posted by: Gary D.

Re: Cancellations due to Insufficient Practice - 07/17/13 03:28 AM

Originally Posted By: AZNpiano
Originally Posted By: laguna_greg
Hi Gary,

It's not hard at all. You stand "en loco parentis". Grow a spine.

I don't follow the logic of these three sentences.

I don't either.
Posted by: Gary D.

Re: Cancellations due to Insufficient Practice - 07/17/13 03:31 AM

Originally Posted By: Minniemay
I don'[ allow sick students in the studio. I have 6-7 group lessons per year that can be used as make-up lessons. I also have a swap list (new this year). We'll see how it goes.

Sometimes they are IN a lesson before you find out that they are sick...
Posted by: Chris H.

Re: Cancellations due to Insufficient Practice - 07/17/13 04:36 AM

Minniemay, be sure to remind them to let you know if they decide to swap lessons with someone. I teach a few families who know each other and there have been times when they swapped lessons and forgot to tell me! There I am waiting for X to turn up and all of a sudden I get Y instead haha! Then there are the siblings who have a 30 minute lesson each but now and then just one will show up for the hour because the other is sick or has something better to do. I do make a point of telling the parents that they need to let me know in advance so I can prepare but it doesn't always happen.
Posted by: Stanny

Re: Cancellations due to Insufficient Practice - 07/17/13 05:06 PM

I really don't mind a sick student in the studio. Kids carry around so many germs anyway. If they are really too sick to come, then they can work the swap list, or they can come to one of the group lessons, which I state in my policy can be used as a make up. (they are optional and bonus)