A teacher commented the other day about paying a $15.00 registration fee for a class her daughter was taking, implying that perhaps it was not justified. I do charge an annual $35.00 registration/administrative fee. Over the years, some parents have questioned it, why it’s an annual fee. For this reason I changed it from a “registration” fee to a “registration/administrative” fee. Below is my justification for it. Maybe there are other things I have missed. Please post them to the forum.
In Defense of Registration/Administrative Fees for Piano Lessons
Piano teachers do a lot besides teach a 30-60 minute weekly lesson. These things all take time and cost money. We aren’t paying secretaries to do these things for us, so a registration/administrative fee is some small compensation which does not adequately cover the cost (time and expense) of all the following jobs which are part of running a piano studio:
– Collect and record all fees. Deposit fees in bank.
Prepare estimated taxes and year-end taxes, including trips to the accountant.
– Lesson preparation includes training time to learn the music we are teaching.
– Taking piano lessons ourselves to learn to play better and to become better teachers
– Attending workshops, seminars, conventions, symposiums or whatever they may be called, from a few hours to a few days
– Preparing studio policies
– Preparing all handouts during the year, postings on bulletin boards, etc.
– Preparing the fall lesson schedule for all the students, making revisions during the year and then again (at least for me) for the summer schedule.
– Talking to parents outside of lesson time
– Information/interview sessions with potential new students
– Going to the music store to buy music for students, or ordering music online
– Exploring new music for students
– Home Office Expense: computer, printer, office supplies
– Buying office supplies
– Paying bills
– Piano tuning
– Studio maintenance and upkeep
– Developing and paying for advertising
– Developing and maintaining a website
Mark M. New York
Excellent list of the many kinds of things we all have to do other than actually teach during lesson time. I think it would be really useful for our clients to understand this. Thanks for sharing it.
A propos to the message I just sent today, though, the question isn’t whether or not it’s justifiable for us to want to be compensated for the time and money we spend on those many things. Of course it’s defensible. The question is simply how we structure our compensation for all these things.
I wouldn’t argue against the validity of a registration or administrative fee — that’s one valid choice among many to answer the question of how we structure our compensation. But it’s worth really looking at that list and then really looking at that amount or any other amount that any teacher could reasonably expect someone to pay as an annual registration/administrative fee. If a client or anybody else asked whether $35.00 per year was sufficient to cover all the things on that list that explains and defends the fee, any response to that question would pretty much have to be some variation on one of these two basic ideas:
1) Indeed, I believe the time I spend on all these activities I listed deserves to be compensated at an incredibly small hourly rate, and the fact that nobody else would be willing to be paid that amount by me to do all those things for me is why I do them myself, because that’s what I think they’re worth, and I’m the only person willing to do them for that low an amount.
I don’t think any teacher would ever really believe that. Maybe I’m wrong. But I suspect most or all teachers would truthfully have to give this answer:
2) Of course, no, it doesn’t anywhere near cover it. All those things need to be done. I’m the only person who can do some of them. For the rest, a reasonable rate to pay someone else to do them for me would surely be far more than the amount of the fee I’m charging you, and I can’t afford or choose not to pay that reasonable amount to others, so it all falls to me to do myself. Some portion I can’t really identify from what you pay me in tuition really covers most of that work I do outside of lesson time. I could choose to just leave it at that, or to slightly increase my tuition rate instead of charging an annual fee on top of the tuition. I choose to charge an additional fee each year, really as more of a gesture than anything really having to do with how well I’m compensated.
Stacy R. Canada
Some other things that I feel could also be added are:
Rental of studio recital space
Prizes given out at recitals (if you do)
To me the registration fee that I charge for the coming year SECURES a spot for them in my studio. It is non refundable and proves to me that they are serious about music lessons for the coming semester. I teach Sept-June.
Mary R. Michigan
This stream is interesting and helpful. As a consumer I hate getting nickeled and dimed to death so I charge just tuition. I think I should let families know all that tuition covers including recitals, for which I have to rent space. I do like the idea of a registration fee to secure a spot for fall. I too take summers off and each year have more attrition than I would like despite having a number of large group playlist review sessions during the summer. My question is, Stacy, when you require the registration fee to be paid and how much it is?
Stacy R. Canada
I charge a $20.00 (Canadian money) registration fee with the June monthly payment. Some of my students end in May and I charge it with that month. I also try to make up the schedule for the coming fall, so that parents have and idea where they will be placed. Since I teach at this point only private lessons it works out well.
Crystal H. Canada
If the moderators let it through, I’ve attached my “Wrap Up” & “Recital Requests” forms that are distributed to my students in late March. Basically, I require a $20.00 non-refundable deposit to guarantee continuing students the same time spot. This gives me a good idea of who is serious about returning to lessons, and helps me to organize my new students into my schedule. Yes, things change over the summer, I will try to accommodate changes, but only the original spot is guaranteed.
** Anyone who submits their renewal for Sept by the given deadline is offered the same as new students 20% off of their 1st four lessons, plus the $20 deposit is deducted from September’s total payable.
This has worked quite well for me. I have only just added the renewal questions about why they might not be continuing so I don’t have any track record for that.
Beth S. Tennessee
I’m sure these charges are more than justified. However, as a consumer, I find it very annoying when vendors “tack on” extra fees and charges. It’s like buying something from QVC for an “x” amount of dollars and then finding that there is $15.00 in shipping/handling charges when the item fits in a padded envelope. I always appreciate when the price is the price and contains all the extra fees necessary. I would have much preferred if the class my children took was $70 instead of $55.00 plus $15.00. It just looks suspicious; not saying there’s not sufficient cause. To me, it’s about appearances, and for that reason I think it’s better to up the Student Home Materials (SHM) or lesson cost than to add another fee.
I agree with this last posting. I have never charged a registration fee and I hate being charged them for my own children’s activities (I have four so it can get very pricey).
Even my costs for classes are not as high because I am always thinking as a mom first and trying to make things fair and cost effective, especially in this day.
As for the before and after of the class, they are expected and part of why I get paid what I do. Teachers in schools do not get paid for the extra hours they sit there lesson planning, they are paid the same as teachers who are there for minimal time because all their lesson plans are created from years past. There is no administrative fee on their behalf for taking classes that better them as teachers, reading books that help with classroom behaviors, talking with parents when they have difficult children……It is all part of the job description. Why should parents have to pay extra for things that are part of our job descriptions when they are already taking their children to music classes and paying for those to better their children’s education when they could just as easily keep them home in front of a TV? I think parents should be rewarded for taking the extra steps and costs to better their children, not punished with additional, unnecessary fees.
Just an honest opinion of a mom of four.
Robin Keehn. Washington
We charge a yearly $25.00 registration fee for all of our students (or $35.00 per family). The first year we did this we had two parents complain but they are the two parents who always complain! Once we briefly explained what this covered (admin of the program) they were okay with it.
When we hold our FIS we tell people right then and there that we have an annual $25 reg. fee so they know before they sign up what costs they will incur.
I think of it this way: Tuition covers the instruction provided by the instructor. The reg. fee goes toward a portion of all the other time involved in administering our programs.
We’ve learned that most music or music and dance schools charge a yearly registration fee and people who have been enrolled in a music/dance institution elsewhere expect to pay it.