Carrie L., Michigan
How do your communicate recitals, policies, vacations etc. to your parents?
I send an average or 2-3 emails through constant contact a month, have a bulletin board with all upcoming dates and the current email that I sent. I also see parents in lessons and will remind them at that time as well.
Students also have written enrollment policies that they have to sign and date as part of enrollment.
I want to keep the talking to a minimum in the lessons, but yet I feel student’s parents still somehow miss news or policies.
The latest this week was a student who was angry about my monthly rate… I charge a monthly rate that includes 3-5 lessons a month. It’s an average that’s the same amount each month Sept-June. I think it’s a very reasonable rate and I actually lowed it in January to make it an average amount.
Anne S., Nebraska
I recently had an issue come up with a parent getting upset with my no-credit policy for missed lessons. I gave them my policies when they came on a year ago and sent everyone an updated version in January. When she expected to be credited for a lesson missed this week due to their family vacation, and I “reminded” her of my no-credit and make-up policies, she admitted she had never read it. My feeling is, that if I make sure they have the document, and I put PLEASE READ in the subject line of the email, they are responsible to read it. They can certainly come to me with questions and I’m happy to discuss my policies with them, but I don’t review them very frequently. At the beginning of winter, I usually include a section in my monthly newsletter reminding everyone about my policy for inclement weather.
Recitals get more attention. I put recital info in my newsletters, up on my white board, on the bulletin board, and we discuss their pieces at lessons. This year, I will also make sure to remind families of my new policy that the week after a recital is a vacation week.
Going back to my recent no-credit issue, when I reminded her that it states right on the enrollment form that lessons missed for any reason cannot be credited nor made up, she asked who at Simply Music came up with that policy and “how they get away with it” 🙂 I sent her a lengthy, respectful email explaining why I have my policies and at the end, I told her that if she chooses to continue in my studio, it will be with a full awareness and acceptance of my policies. She has chosen to continue, at least until soccer preempts piano. sigh.
Terah W., Kansas
Hi– just had a conversation today about student policies, etc., with a friend whose children are my students. I told her that I had a goal for getting my Studio Policy finished and implemented (this is my third month of teaching) and was explaining the monthly amount for even the months of 3-5 weeks being the same and gave her some reasons for it. Then I said that someone had told me that it is like taking a class at a Community College in that if you are sick, they don’t do a make-up class. You ‘purchased’ a spot in that class and if you are sick, it’s your responsibility to see to it that you cover missed material by asking another student or covering the subject yourself on your own time. She exclaimed, “Oh! Use that example–it’s the best one and is just like what you are doing” I figured if she could see that clearly, it might be a very good analogy. I hope this helps.
Beth S., Tennessee
No one thinks to demand credits or refunds for tuition at school when they are absent, sick, have snow days, etc. Schools make no apologies when they are closed for whatever reason, even holidays for teachers! (and students, of course), and instead of complaining about the break, parents and students are grateful as if the school were doing them a favor. Furthermore, some months are long (i.e. January or March), but some are short, like December, and the fees are the same and no one thinks twice. It would seem totally inappropriate for parents to demand different tuition amounts for those months or to be complaining in the school office every time their child missed school. After all, school was still in operation; it was no one’s fault they didn’t show up! I also know of several schools in my area that charge on a 10-month plan, even though classes are in session only 9 months and the school is closed and empty the 10th month. I talked with several on the phone once, and it didn’t occur to me to argue with them about it. I guess if I had, they might have told me I was free to go somewhere else. I keep thinking about why there is such a different mindset with piano lessons, and I wonder if I called my business a piano “academy”, or something of the sort, instead of a piano “studio” if that would give a different connotation to the whole thing.
Winnie B., Colorado
Actually, if you check it out, there are ALWAYS 13 weeks every 3 months for any given day of the week. At least I’ve never seen an exception. My students pay quarterly for 12 weeks, and I take one week off, on the average, for each of 3 quarters in 9 months.
Summer is by arrangement with each student and my schedule…..paid in advance with the first fall payment also paid to reserve their space.
I totally subscribe to the comments about school absences and applying it to piano: this is a curriculum, not a set of individual tutorials, and no one is substantially behind by the end of the year just from missing a lesson or two.