Teaching on Mondays
Found in: Studio Management
Mark M. New York
When my policy is that I teach weekly throughout the year, and that lessons are by default to be considered to take place even on national holidays and other days the local school districts might take off, Mondays have been a particular and consistent source of consternation. At least in the U.S., there are a number of national holidays that always take place on Mondays, and then a number of other holidays, which are date-based inevitably also occasionally, fall on Mondays.
I haven’t gotten significant complaints, but it is frequently an issue in terms of absences, since many people do like to make recreational plans for these long weekends, these days off. And that includes me. Canceling lessons is nice for all of us recreationally, but bad for students in terms of consistency and bad for me in terms of income (at least given my tuition policies). I couldn’t imagine creating special policies just for Monday lessons/students to somehow try to level the playing field compared to other weekdays, and I haven’t done so. Yet holiday schedules being what they are, it’s a situation where refraining action is precisely what leads to an unfair playing field.
Maybe there’s nothing to do but acknowledge Monday lesson slots to simply have this hazard that comes with the territory. But I thought it worth asking if any teachers out there have any innovative solutions.
Missy M. Nebraska
I had lessons on Monday for a long time as many other activities do not usually meet on Mondays. I ran into that trouble as well. Now I have lessons on Tuesdays. That is one option!
Hilary C. AU
One solution – The issue is easily solved by taking Sun/Mon off and working Sat.
Jane H. AU
1. Have the least amount of students on a Monday
2. I compromise and don’t teach Christmas, Easter, Australia Day and ANZAC
I can relate. I just made my schedule/calendar for the year, and since I only teach Mondays & Tuesdays, it was definitely a bit of an issue. I have a very small studio, and these next two weeks I am doing “Practice Strategy Home Visits” to all my families, so that takes care of Labor Day. Also, this year I decided to have special events on the (day after the holiday, Halloween & MLK) Tuesday, playing at the local nursing home. Of course this is/could be considered optional by some families, but I (former music therapist) do my best to emphasize (with lots of details regarding why) the incredible learning & life opportunity it is, not only to play for others, but to serve/minister to those wisest among us, our geriatric friends and mentors. Certainly not everyone can always come, but the option is there. I did make President’s Day optional, as I don’t plan to be out of town then. I also plugged in an optional “instrument-making session” this year on an off day because I am out of town on a usual week in the middle of fall. And I have two other weeks, one per semester, where I do not count as usual lesson weeks- they are makeup weeks for those who have missed lessons. I charge a flat rate per month and other than what I just mentioned, I do not do makeups or credits.
Laurie Richards, Nebraska
What I usually have done is to schedule those Mondays as vacation days for me. This breaks up my vacation weeks, but I have worked in enough vacation weeks in my schedule that it’s not a big deal.
Here are a few other ideas that might be possible for you:
• Reschedule the Monday lesson for a different day on those weeks (I know, a potential scheduling nightmare)
• If you have open time before or after the lesson time, lengthen the class time a bit for the remaining Monday lessons that month
I’ve considered just saying a holiday is a holiday, and there are no lessons on those days (and not use a vacation day). But it would be unfair to the students who would receive several fewer lessons than everyone else paying the same rate.
Shari G. Colorado
I do take all those Monday holidays off and don’t charge my Monday families for those dates. I simply adjust their monthly payment to reflect the fact that students on Mondays have four fewer lessons than other students do during the period September – May. Monday students therefore have a different private or group monthly rate, but pay the same amount each month.
My husband and son both get these days off so I choose to take them off too. (Labor Day, MLK day, President’s Day and Memorial Day)
Karen H. California
I teach a lot of students on Mondays. What I do (and this is based on the Jy G.’s Piano Studio model), is try to schedule many of my vacation weeks to include those Monday holidays, which is often what the schools follow as well.
I state in my policies, that if a class is scheduled on a National Holiday, and the student cannot attend, I will either credit them for that day or offer them a make-up class. It seems to work well for the most part, and feels fair to all.
Sheh-Mae H. AU
I’ve changed my policy to suit my needs as well as what my customers are wanting in regard to lessons on public holidays. Certainly, lessons on Mondays are not like lessons on the other days of the week for all the reasons that you’ve mentioned.
I’ve decided not to fret over those issues or make them bigger than what they are, and just accept Monday for what it is. As such, my policy now states that I do not teach on public holidays, or during the school holidays, unless by request. The parents and students appreciate this measure of goodwill.
Stephen R. California
I understand your concern about Monday holidays, income and such! I’m in a music store which is closed for any of those major Monday holidays (labor day, memorial day) I don’t teach those days and don’t charge students, but I try to reschedule during the rest of the week if they’re willing. I don’t have enough students right now, so there are a lot of gaps. Unfortunately, I don’t see any solution for those major holidays.
I have always taught on Holiday Mondays throughout the year and handle it in any number of ways.
First, I find out which students can and cannot attend their lesson that falls on a Monday Holiday. Usually it is only a small handful who cannot attend. Then, I reschedule the students into time slots that I have on other days, or I extend my work days to fit them in, or as a third possibility, I teach them on a day that I do not normally teach. Basically, they are allowed to re-schedule their lesson into a time slot that I offer within one week on either side of the missed lesson.
It has always worked out well. In the event that I want the Monday off too, I simply open up a Friday (which I normally do not teach). I have never lost any money or gained any stress due to Monday Holidays!
Victoria S. California
I would consider rescheduling your Monday students on those pesky holidays. They are not so often that your students would be that inconvenienced. Perhaps switch them to a weekend.
Karolee G. Idaho
Lots of great ideas here! I am ruminating on the Sun/Mon off and teach on Saturday idea, myself.
However, I wanted to share what I do. I choose one Saturday morning each month that is Make-Up day, and I offer that morning between 9 am and noon for make-up lessons. These must be reserved in advance (so I can be prepared!). I offer this for the families that come on Monday during a month in which there’s a Monday holiday, and/or when there’s an unforeseen circumstance that causes an attendance problem. Of course, I do have to, from time to time, be assertive about what is and is not an “unforeseen circumstance” but it works well to create goodwill in the case of Monday holidays, chicken pox outbreaks, and the like. I announce which Saturday is available in my e-newsletter, which goes out right before the last week of the previous month (and therefore, also contains tuition reminders, etc.).
Kevin M. California
I charge for four lessons a month and on months where there is a fifth week that lesson is free. I have the conversation with all my students (and it is in my policy’s) that we do not have a lesson on the federal holidays. It pretty much evens out except for the Monday people; We have the conversation ahead of time about Mondays having more than any other day of holidays. If they choose to have lessons on Mondays they know what to expect. I have never had any problem with this and I do not do make up lessons.
I used to teach on the Federal holidays but found my students said they would come, but either they would forget, or just call to say they aren’t going to make it etc. I found myself working a full day but only teaching 1/4 of the classes (I still get paid if they show or not but it still felt like a waste of a day) Once I changed my policies it’s been smooth sailing.
Gail J. Washington
The trickiest part for me was always the fact that Monday students had significant makeup/rescheduling/billing issues that other students did not – but because of my family’s schedule, most Mondays were great teaching days. My solution was to teach quarterly, 10 lessons per quarter and divide the quarterly fee into even monthly payments. I then schedule in advance my “skip weeks” to coincide with national holidays and known family vacations or special occasions – all lessons are off that week. Billing is greatly simplified as everyone is on the same schedule and no one frets if this month had five lessons and this month only three etc. For me 10 weeks of lessons each quarter works well; it’s financially feasible, simplifies the billing process, and builds in a few breaks that I’ve come to appreciate. (I tried 11 week quarters but found I like 10 week quarters best).
Here are a few excerpts from my studio policies to illustrate:
Fee Structure: I teach on a quarterly basis, loosely following the school year. There are 10 lessons in each quarter (except summer Quarter*). The group lesson fee is $240/quarter and private lessons $300/quarter. Payments can be made in monthly installments of $80 for group lessons or $100 for private. Materials fee: $48 roughly every three – four months. *Summer Quarter – 8 lessons
2011/2012 Term – J indicates week breaks (no lessons):
Fall Quarter, lessons held the weeks of: Sept. 12, 19, 26, Oct. 3, 10, 17, 24, J, Nov. 7, 14, J, 28
Fall Quarter 2011
Monday Tuesday Wednesday
9/12 9/13 9/14
9/19 9/20 9/21
9/26 9/27 9/28
10/3 10/4 10/5
10/10 10/11 10/12
10/17 10/18 10/19
10/24 10/25 10/26
skip week 10/31-11/2 No lessons
11/7 11/8 11/9
11/14 11/15 11/16
skip week 11/21 – 23 No lessons
11/28 11/29 11/30
Shanta R. Minnesota
Sorry, I’m a little late into the fray here. I charge for 48 lessons/year, and I take off Labor day, Memorial day, July 4th, Christmas, Thanksgiving, as well as three weeks of vacation. I try to schedule vacations to include a week with a holiday in it. I also found that Monday lessons were getting the short end of the stick. What I started doing was, if a class has been on Mondays for an entire year, then I will discount September by one shared lesson fee per student. That seems to keep them happy, and it also means that they only get the “evening out” if they stay for the entire year.
I’m getting ready to revise my policies to include six-nine “global make up lessons” per year to allow for inclement weather, and illness (mine or students), and to give me a week to go to the Symposium in January. I’m going to have the makeup lessons be on a Saturday and all students at all levels can come. We won’t do new material, but we can review any questions, do arrangements, share compositions and improv, and play piano games. I think I am still going to charge for 48 weeks a year, and if people take advantage of the makeup lessons, then they come out ahead.
Because of so many holidays falling on Mondays, and wanting longer weekends to drive to visit my own four children in four different states & three grandchildren, with another due in November and the fifth due next March, I decided to limit my studio to teaching only on Tues, Wed, Thurs! I teach later now on those days than I had before, but I know it has helped me to consolidate my schedule and added benefit of keeping my utility costs of my studio down! This has been the longest, hottest summer on record in sunny South Carolina & my bills were very high! I will occasionally use Mondays & Fridays for make-up or “catch-up” lessons (when I’m trying to merge a student into another group) or FISs and it gives me extra days to plan lessons, organize studio, pay bills, make personal or Doctors-Dentist appointments etc! It also creates a sense of urgency in getting new students into my very busy schedule when they see that I am almost completely booked, it tells them that enough students must really like this new & different piano method that I have so many students! Today, I had one of my best & most advanced adult students (who is having to take a “leave of absence” as she needs to spend more time on her real estate business) who was giving me a big hug & thanking me profusely on her way out the door of her last lesson (for a while) as a new prospective adult student was waiting for her FIS! It was one of those unplanned but perfect moments when she just started singing the praises of the SM method and me and I just wish I had had a recorder to get it all on tape! I couldn’t have asked for a better endorsement! It really set such a positive tone for new student & she enrolled right after her FIS! Wish they were all so easy! New student had taken for just a few short years as a child but “couldn’t remember a thing” as they so often tell me and her children had given her a full sized 88 key digital keyboard for her 70th birthday & told her they expect a great recital by her next BD in a year! Isn’t that a wonderful gift?! Sorry to go on, but just had to share that wonderful experience which couldn’t have come at a better time for me as I was feeling a real “valley” having been home in bed for four days with a late summer ‘vicious virus’ that just wouldn’t let go!
Sue C. AU
Mark, I think I read in a previous forum from you that you do not teach on Fridays. My suggestion is that you teach on Fridays when there is a Monday holiday in that same week.
Marina G. New Jersey
Our school year is 39 lessons – even number for all days of the week. It means we work some Mondays when schools are closed (MLK Day), but maybe closed on some Tuesdays and Wednesdays when schools are open (i.e. we start lessons on 9/8, Thu, since Thanksgiving and Rosh-ha-Shanah also Thu; our public schools are closed); and we end Tue lessons a week earlier. I assigned 6/19 as make-up day for all days of the week. Also, we end Mondays on 6/25 – extra day; to even it all up.
I follow Kevin’s model—flat monthly rate no matter how many lessons (usually four, sometimes five, occasionally three) —- and have only had one or two complaints in eight years. My policies state that classes will not meet during school vacations or on holidays. In my experience nobody minds missing piano on a national holiday.
Patti P. Hawaii
I resolved the issue by taking Mondays off! I work a five-day work week. Right now I teach Tues – Friday, and Sunday. I’d like to switch from Sundays to Sat., but my Sunday families have too many conflicts with sports on Sat. & some drive for some distance for lessons, Sunday being the day they have activities closer to me. So I’ve left Sunday lessons intact.
I charge tuition on a pro-rated basis, which means every month is the same, no matter how many lessons they get – it can vary from three-five. I tell them up front that I don’t teach on major holidays like Labor Day weekend, Thanksgiving weekend. I take two weeks of Christmas break, etc. They know up front which holidays will be off. So far, they have all been OK with this (I made the switch to pro-rated tuition years ago & everyone has been content with it). I guarantee a certain number of lessons offered throughout the year so they know I won’t be just randomly taking days off, but when I figure out that guaranteed number, I take into account conferences I might be going to, plus some sick leave/vacation days for myself.
I also make sure they understand up front that I teach year round, not by the school calendar. I also let them know that there are no make-up lessons. So far I’ve never had a problem being available for the promised number of lessons, but I make it clear that if I find that we are going to be a bit short before the year is out, we will double up lessons for a week or two to catch up. That way they know that these catch-up lessons will only happen in the summertime. Due to the school schedule here, my teaching year is August-July. So if in June I check and see that I’m going to be short because, maybe I was sick too many Wednesdays, then I can schedule the extra classes at a time of year that I have more time (due to some students being on vacations).
I think part of the key to this being OK with parents is being up front about it and not apologetic, and giving them the best possible experience I can every week we meet.
Elisa J. New Jersey
I think I counted 46 Mondays for this year. Perhaps you can count the other six(?) as their built-in make-ups. Not to add into this already nightmarish schedule but then what kind of winter we’re going to have is another worry. In this day and age of modern technology maybe you can require them to download Skype (since you do them) and so have their lesson wherever they are and mix it up with those students who are present that day. I guess you’d have to remind them to bring their practice pads. You can even practice how they would set this up with their iPhones or iPads if they bring it in class. If they communicate their absences in advance, perhaps they can plan better. I am going to start teaching at my children’s school again and have moved my Monday groups to Tuesdays. Since most of them took off for the summer then the same thing will probably happen. I counted 38 weeks in the school year and they will have only two make-ups. I will then try what Robin suggested meeting every three weeks from July through August. I’m keeping my Monday as my day for those students who don’t have the budget for weekly lessons and can only afford two lessons per month. For me, Summers will have to be the time to try and get more workshops in.
Mark M. New York
Some teachers had expressed interest in hearing how I resolved the issues I’d brought up several weeks ago about Mondays and time off.
When I looked carefully across the year at the specific days that I either wanted off for myself and/or that I felt the majority of students/families would appreciate having off from lessons, I saw that the differences among the weekdays weren’t as great as I’d thought.
At first, I decided to go with the let-it-be attitude, declaring off the days I chose, neither trying to make it a precisely equal number of each weekday annually nor trying to adjust tuition for lessons on different days of the week. I then found a way to make everything nearly precisely fair while keeping things simple at the same time.
Since a fair amount of these holidays/occasions overlapped with the personal time I’d scheduled for 2011, I decided to cut my personal paid days off while adding these standard holidays/occasions. The net result is that I actually have nearly twice the paid time off. Instead of three weeks in which to include some of these holidays/occasions and not others and squeeze in a bit of other time chosen by me, I now have two weeks fully at my own discretion plus 3.66 weeks made up of these holidays/occasions:
–Independence Day (observed, whether July 4 or not)
–Start of School Recess — from the Tuesday the day before students return to my local school district through Friday ending that week
–Thanksgiving Recess — from the Wednesday before Thanksgiving Day through the Friday after
–Winter Recess — from Christmas Eve (December 24) through New Year’s Day (observed, whether January 1 or not)
I’m keeping lessons on for the other U.S. Federal holidays — MLK Day, Washington’s Birthday/Presidents Day, Columbus Day, Veterans Day. These have not been as contentious in terms of people (myself included) wishing the day were off for personal plans. It’s a nice coincidence that three of the four are always on Mondays, which helps the set of days off I’ve chosen to be more equal than things otherwise would have been.
Believe it or not, given the balance of these occasions on particular weekdays each year vs. those that fluctuate from year to year, each of the five weekdays is almost identical over the course of time in terms of how many days everyone will have off. If anyone’s curious about that math, I’d be happy to share it 🙂
I’m keeping my tuition flat and have promised, as I did last year when I added the personal paid time off for the first time, that I’d keep tuition flat for at least the next year. It still amounts, as it did last year, to a raise for me, because of the increase in paid time off.