Stephen R. California
I’d like to know how many other teachers charge for holidays, especially this time of year with Christmas Eve and day and New Year’s Eve and day! Otherwise, unless students reschedule there’s a lot of lost income! Do most teachers charge for the month regardless of holidays?
No, I do not charge for holidays. I think this is part of being a music teacher. I do not get paid for several weeks throughout the year. However I do enjoy my vacation time a lot.
I charge the same each month – no matter how many lessons. I figured this out by determining there would be 42 lessons/year (accounting for holidays and every other week in the summer) then multiply this by a per lesson rate to get the yearly total, then divide by 12 for the monthly rate. If you do this quarterly you’d just divide by four. I figure this is easier for all of us – just like the equal pay that I’m on for my utilities. In the summer I use less, but in the winter more, but it averages out. Some months we have two lessons (summer) and others we have five. That way we only have to remember one figure each month.
Shelly W. California
I followed Neil Moore’s suggestion of counting the number of weeks you teach in one year, multiplying that number by the per-lesson fee, and dividing by 12, so that you have an evenly prorated monthly fee regardless of the number of weeks in each month. Sometimes I do remind parents that they will never pay for a lesson that was not scheduled, and that as the months unfold, everything evens out. This conversation comes up when people are still new, and we come across a month that has only three lessons. What’s great about this system is that you still receive a steady income during your weeks off, and parents have a predictable fee that they can budget for each month.
Cheri S. Utah
I charge the same every month, regardless of vacations. It’s good to have steady income, and it’s easier for everyone to remember the same amount each month. A year has 52 weeks, but you only need 48 lessons per year to average four lessons a month. I teach 45 lessons a year–my studio closes for two weeks for Christmas, and a week for Thanksgiving, spring break, and 4th of July. I allow two other sick/vacation weeks. Everyone knows this in advance, and it seems to make sense to them. Most professions, including school teachers, earn the same income per month throughout the year, including summers off and/or paid sick/vacation time. Families understand that they’re paying a fixed monthly rate for 45 lessons each year.
I charge by the month, so it will not impact my income. I have everything written in my policy and explain ahead of time that I take off two weeks at Christmas and will take off two more weeks during another time of the year; I expect that to be in the summer. I’m a new Simply Music teacher, so hopefully I can hang on to my new students during next summer. At Thanksgiving, I rescheduled lessons to be sure that everyone did not miss any lesson.
Cheri S. Utah
I do think it’s important to have issues like this written out in our studio policies, which parents and students receive when they begin lessons, and review regularly. This ensures that everyone is clear about expectations and procedures–they know what they’re signing up for, no surprises. Everyone reviews these policies at least once a year, which in my studio means every Sept. With school starting, that seems to be a natural time for people to sign up and/or renew educational activities. So every Sept., I give everyone a copy of my studio policies and ask them to sign a little form that they read this year’s policies and agree. I also let them know that the policies are revised every year, giving me some flexibility to adjust things as I gain more experience.
Paul C. AU
Like a number of teachers have mentioned already I too charge a monthly fee all year round (with a few exceptions as I’ll mention) that makes it a great relief in the holiday periods. When I taught traditionally, in schools, and only to the school terms I dreaded January and the first term of the year because we never had enough consistent income to take care of the bills because I was the sole bread winner with a young family it meant we lived on a knife edge at the beginning of a number of years, nearly toppling into the financial abyss – NOT a good feeling.
I find it still takes some explanation (or many) to some students to help them understand how I operate. I even had one parent tell me she had rung up a number of the local piano teachers and NONE of them taught all year round (instead, only by the school term) and that she had never heard of such a thing even when living in their previous city (actually implying that I shouldn’t dare to be any different!!). I thought to myself and told this parent too that the other teachers were completely free to do as they like but that I had decided to teach all year round and that’s just how it was if they were going to learn from me! I told them I couldn’t survive financially teaching only 38 weeks a year. I haven’t looked back since deciding to change to a monthly fee policy (based on teaching 48 weeks a year).
The only time I change my monthly fees is when public holidays fall on the days of a lesson. I will always have a discussion with each group and we will decide together whether to meet on a public holiday or not. Some classes do and some don’t. I make myself available on these holidays seeing as they are usually on an otherwise ordinary Monday or perhaps Tuesday. If we decide not to meet then the next months’ fees are adjusted down by one lesson which then becomes a ‘local’ fee adjustment without disturbing the ‘global’ year round fee scheme. Of course if we meet on a public holiday then nothing changes.
Out of interest I also ask students to pay a ‘holding’ fee (half the usual fee) if they are going to be away for two or more lessons in a row. This assures me of some income while still letting the student feel like I am doing them a bit of a favor by not charging full fees.
Carrie L. Michigan
We also have monthly rates. When people come to FIS’s I discuss that our monthly rate is X and that it is typically four weeks in the month but sometimes it is three and other times it is five. It averages out.
It is also in our handbook in detail about the dates that we are “off” and we went through and looked to see if all the days (Monday-Thursday, Saturday) average out to be about the same amount of weeks per year. We teach September- June and encourage students to take in July/August we are open about six weeks of that time.
If they “take a break” they pay a registration fee when they come back $25 and also may lose their time. We have a waiting list so that is sometimes enough incentive to keep them going.
We also have a 30 day notice policy that we have them agree to when they enroll. That has helped students continue on and work out any potential valleys they might be having.
We have had a couple people ask about the ‘vacation’ weeks and having to pay for them and I just speak about it with confidence and a degree of firmness.
I’d suggest that if you come from a standpoint that you are “full” with a waiting list you’ll treat your business differently and enforce policies that work for you.