Cheri S., Utah
I’m starting my third year, and my studio just grew from 20 to 27. At the smaller size I had smaller classes, designed not only around age and ability but also around each family’s schedule.
My scheduling process has been to ask each family what days/times they absolutely cannot attend, and then find a time for each class that works for all the students. I try to keep students together over time, so they can build rapport. I also try to schedule siblings in back-to-back classes whenever possible, so mom doesn’t have piano on multiple days. My parents all have 2-4 kids in piano.
If the studio keeps growing, my current scheduling process isn’t going to work. How do medium- and larger- sized studios create a schedule? Does your basic schedule stay the same year after year? Do you just offer each level a couple times a week, and people fit themselves into that? What about variety within a level–especially as the levels get longer and more programs are introduced (like RR & RN)? Do you even try to do back-to-back lessons for siblings? What about schedule changes from summer to school year and back to summer?
Robin Keehn, Washingtion
Congratulations on growing your studio!
Your scheduling process is exactly what we’ve done for years. We ask each family to write when they cannot attend and then come up with a couple of options when we know how many students we have coming in and how old, how much experience, etc. We do try to schedule families on the same day if possible.
Regarding your questions, as much as possible I leave my classes in the same time slots from year to year. For example, this fall, all of my Monday afternoon students are scheduled at exactly the same time they were last school year. I think people really appreciate knowing that is their reserved time for as long as possible. Some years I have made adjustments by 15-30 minutes to accommodate schedules but I keep it the same as much as I can. I don’t offer a certain level at a certain time. I wouldn’t really want students thinking that they could select a Level 2 class to enter because we could be anywhere in Level 2 and I might have a really gifted, fast moving group that would not be appropriate, for example, for an elderly student who was in Level 2.
That really goes along with your question about how to have students fit themselves into a level when you are in higher levels and doing Reading Rhythm or Reading Notes (for example). I am going to keep the students with their groups or design the groups. I’m not giving my students choices in who they are with or what class to choose. I’m designing it so that I have control of making sure my students get the best results possible.
I hope that helps. I think that scheduling is the most challenging part of teaching groups but it is well worth the extra effort when you consider the benefits of the group environment.
Laurie Richards, Nebraska
That’s fantastic! Scheduling is definitely easier and more flexible with a smaller studio. When my studio got larger, I opted to offer specific class times that we have available at the studio. I’m also working with other teachers’ schedules. They give me their available teaching times, and I create class openings wherever a teacher is available.
This is one of those interesting psychological things to me. In my experience, I have found that if I ask families when they are available, they will give me the day/time frame that is their #1 preference, without sharing many other options at all. However, if there is a schedule of available class times, they will often make one of those times work rather than expecting it to be the other way around. Scheduling is one of the more difficult aspects of a larger studio. People really fill up their days with so much.
We are as flexible as we can be and try to work with families on finding a time that works for BOTH them and the teacher. Once they start a class, we just continue at that time through the levels, unless someone needs to move to a different, more appropriately-paced class, or schedules change, etc.