Studio Policies

Inclement Weather Policy

Mark M., New York

I’m not sure how to set a policy for inclement weather, especially on days when the local school district may issue a school closing. I certainly wouldn’t want students to feel they have to brave bad road conditions, and occasionally there may be municipal road closings that even force everyone to stay home.

Automatically close the studio for that day, or not? Give a tuition credit for the following month, or not? Etc. Thanks for your thoughts.

Carrie L., Michigan

We have the policy that normally the roads are better by the afternoon so I don’t necessarily close if roads are bad. If they are bad and students are driving far (some drive 30 minutes or more to me).. then I see if we can make it up. If we can’t make it up I’ll give them tution credit if necessary.

Lori K., Michigan

I indicate that I will still be open. Usually (not always) the roads are cleared by the afternoon/evening so there is no problems. However, I note that if a student is unable to make it due to the weather, then they should use their best judgement and they will recieve a credit. I’ve had the situation (before I had a set policy) that I cancelled because the school was cancelled due to snow. But everything was clear and beautiful that afternoon–there would have been no problem driving to lessons–so I lost a big chunk of money that day. Now I know…..

Winnie B., Colorado

One way to think about this: I don’t consider that I charge for each lesson individually, but for the yearly curriculum, pd in monthly installments. Certainly a college class gives an example of this: they don’t refund a single-class portion of tuition for illness, misses, or bad weather: and occasionally missing a class does not mean the value of the over all learning is necessarily compromised. Many people miss an occasional college class but still master the material presented. Professors usually will give makeup assignments.

I use this as my protocol, as I also feel a child’s over all progress is not necessarily impaired by an occasional miss. I’m always available by phone or email to work with assigning a makeup assignment, much as a classroom teacher does. I find it helpful to think of all a child learns in a year,
and find private school and college protocols support this way of thinking. Just a thought which has been helpful to me!

Laurie Richards, Nebraska

I have decided to completely steer clear of credits, since I rely on my SM income. The only time I offer a credit is if I cancel a lesson and don’t make it up. I have found that offering credits for whatever reason seems to set you up for more credit requests for various circumstances.

For inclement weather, I wait out the a.m. to see how the streets are, and if it is bad I cancel lessons. If I cancel lessons, I offer one makeup session by level (not for individual classes), usually on the weekend. Or they can attend a different group if that works. If they cannot do a makeup session, I do not offer a credit. This is all spelled out in my policies.

This has worked well for me and saves me a lot of headache!

Mark M., New York

Thanks so much for the different thoughts and perspectives. Here’s how your thoughts help me arrive at a conclusion that seems to work for me:

The yearly curriculum idea seems worthwhile, but it seems two things are needed for people to accept that learning is not compromised as a result of occasional misses: a preset notion of the curriculum’s typical timespan, and a modest amount of compromise to that timespan. Beyond some threshold, I don’t think people would forgive too many classes canceled without some kind of makeup/credit. I believe that of a university situation just as much as with SM.

I also think that SM teachers like me who don’t specify in advance how many weeks per year they intend to take off may be even a bit more accountable to clients in this respect. Because we don’t (I believe) truly intend to teach 52 lessons per year, we fail to give people a real sense of the intended timespan of the yearly curriculum.

I think there’s a lot to be said for co-operation, for blending the ways in which we look out for ourselves with the ways in which we acknowledge that we’re in things together. So I believe that my policy will be that people should as a rule assume lessons are on, that I will only cancel lessons for my own personal reasons or due to extreme regional conditions in which I personally feel that I cannot expect people to travel, that I will not offer makeups for either lessons people miss or lessons that I cancel (because it seems too complicated to me to do so), but that I will offer a credit for all lessons that I cancel.

I’ll take that hit on canceled lesson days out of a sort of solidarity with my clients. For personal time off, the credits are the price I’ll pay for keeping flexible about how/when I take it. For extreme conditions, the credits are the price I’ll pay for the goodwill I gain from acknowledging that we’re all losing out in those rare and unexpected situations together. By limiting credits to cancellations and by keeping cancellations fully in my control and based on only these two particular types of situations, I believe I avoid the slippery slope toward additional credit requests.

We’ll see how this works for me. Thanks again!

Mary R., Michigan

I too avoid credits like the plague. I tell my students that my studio is like the post office of old… “through winds and storms and dark of night we deliver!!” We once had a recital scheduled on the day of a BIG snowfall. Most folks were walking distance and even those who weren’t made it there and we all felt very proud not to have let the weather keep us from making music.