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Cancelled Lessons
#1220072 06/20/09 01:27 PM
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Hi all,
I'm wondering what you'd recommend for this situation:

I bill my students monthly. If they cancel they get a makeup to use within that month, but there are no refunds.
Many of my clients take extended vacations, some gone for a month at a time. I allow two weeks of unpaid travel, more than that I bill for whether you're here or not. This is only to accommodate those who travel. I know some will disagree with my policy, but it's in my contract.
I gave out a summer schedule at my spring recital and restated this policy. I requested that any travel dates be submitted by June 7th, etc. I just had a client cancel a lesson through email and end it with "we'll see you July 6th". That's two more weeks of missed lessons. I'm unsure of how to bill this.

I plan on billing for all three weeks (he's already paid for this month, so the issue will be how to bill July). I don't think this warrants a reduced monthly fee for July, but am not sure how to handle it if he complains. "We didn't have a lesson for the last three weeks, why doesn't the bill reflect that?" Does anyone think he should get a reduced bill?




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Re: Cancelled Lessons
MrsCamels #1220080 06/20/09 01:36 PM
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Just to be clear: you allow two unpaid spots per month right?

that is extremely generous IMO.I bill quarterly, and only allow 2 missed (unpaid) lessons. Sorry, not about me wink

If I'm understanding you correctly; that you have stated this in your policies, then what I would do is:

send him the bill AND a copy of your contract, with the part about missing lessons highlighted. Then I would include a note with "have a fun vacation, and let me know if you have any questions".

I don't know how long you've been teaching, but I have leaned that the sooner these things are cleared up the better. Many of these people will take the proverbial mile, every time they get the chance!

It is possible he didn't understand? Or maybe forgot?


It is better to be kind than to be right.

Professional private piano teacher since 1994.
Re: Cancelled Lessons
Ebony and Ivory #1220081 06/20/09 01:38 PM
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Originally Posted by Ebony and Ivory
Just to be clear: you allow two unpaid spots per month right?

that is extremely generous IMO.I bill quarterly, and only allow 2 missed (unpaid) lessons. Sorry, not about me wink

If I'm understanding you correctly; that you have stated this in your policies, then what I would do is:

send him the bill AND a copy of your contract, with the part about missing lessons highlighted. Then I would include a note with "have a fun vacation, and let me know if you have any questions".

I don't know how long you've been teaching, but I have leaned that the sooner these things are cleared up the better. Many of these people will take the proverbial mile, every time they get the chance!

It is possible he didn't understand? Or maybe forgot?




+1


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Re: Cancelled Lessons
Barb860 #1220104 06/20/09 02:30 PM
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Sorry - let me be clearer - I allow 2 unpaid lessons for the entire summer and ONLY during the summer. I cancel over Christmas, but I don't travel over the summer {can't afford it :(} so, it's not like they can plan to travel when i'm gone (not that they would anyway!)

this parent is VERY flakey. always misses makeups, payment, etc. If i don't email him with specific instructions, i can bet he doesn't get it. I send home quarterly newsletters and he admitted a few lessons ago that he's never paid attention to them. go figure. I know he received the reminder about summer lessons and never returned anything to me. arg.



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Re: Cancelled Lessons
MrsCamels #1220114 06/20/09 02:43 PM
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Sounds like my earlier post would still work then.

Just highlight the part about missing lessons, and bill him!
Seriously. Especially if he's flaky smile


It is better to be kind than to be right.

Professional private piano teacher since 1994.
Re: Cancelled Lessons
Ebony and Ivory #1220132 06/20/09 03:22 PM
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I enjoy my summers and simply don't want to teach every day, so I request students schedule lessons on Tues/Wed. If they can make it, fine, if not, fine. Rates are reduced as a "reward" for studying with me during the school year. If parents cannot figure out a bargain and a heck of a great deal, it's their loss.


"Those who dare to teach must never cease to learn." -- Richard Henry Dann
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Re: Cancelled Lessons
John v.d.Brook #1220179 06/20/09 04:51 PM
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Why do you think that someone has to pay for not having the lessons? Is money really everything that matters? What about happiness when you know that you are the one to blame for student's improvement?

Re: Cancelled Lessons
GreenRain #1220182 06/20/09 04:55 PM
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GreenRain,
While the client may not have lessons, I cannot fill those slots since everyone comes at the same time every week. So, they pay because they still want to have a lesson slot when they return, also for the time it takes to process all the billing, rearranging, etc. This parent will have makeup lessons available if they wish to take me up on it.
Money is not all that matters, but I do have bills to pay, etc. And finally, I'm not the one to blame for a student's improvement or lack thereof if they only have a lesson 1x a month!

hopefully that sounds more reasonable to your sober eye smile


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Re: Cancelled Lessons
GreenRain #1220190 06/20/09 05:19 PM
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Originally Posted by GreenRain
Why do you think that someone has to pay for not having the lessons?


You must not be a teacher.
I get families all the time that want a lesson here and a lesson there. I have to charge for time, otherwise I have no budget!

If a family wants to take piano, then they need to pay for the privilege of it. If they want one lesson a month, they are not learning the piano, they are fiddling with it.





It is better to be kind than to be right.

Professional private piano teacher since 1994.
Re: Cancelled Lessons
Ebony and Ivory #1220192 06/20/09 05:23 PM
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Well said, E&I and Mrs.C!

I sometimes feel we'll never be appreciated.


"Those who dare to teach must never cease to learn." -- Richard Henry Dann
Full-time Private Piano Teacher offering Piano Lessons in Olympia, WA. www.mypianoteacher.com
Certified by the American College of Musicians; member NGPT, MTNA, WSMTA, OMTA
Re: Cancelled Lessons
GreenRain #1220267 06/20/09 08:55 PM
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Originally Posted by GreenRain
Why do you think that someone has to pay for not having the lessons? Is money really everything that matters? What about happiness when you know that you are the one to blame for student's improvement?



They're not paying for NOT having a lesson; they are paying for me to set aside a time slot specifically for them. When they cancel a lesson or don't show up, I am the loser if I can't fill that time slot with a paying student. So why should I lose money for something a student/parent did?


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Re: Cancelled Lessons
dumdumdiddle #1220274 06/20/09 09:16 PM
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Or to phrase it a bit more from a student's reference point, you've contracted with me to be present, provide a studio, instrument, etc., and to teach you. I fulfilled my half of the bargain and you need to fulfill your half.


"Those who dare to teach must never cease to learn." -- Richard Henry Dann
Full-time Private Piano Teacher offering Piano Lessons in Olympia, WA. www.mypianoteacher.com
Certified by the American College of Musicians; member NGPT, MTNA, WSMTA, OMTA
Re: Cancelled Lessons
GreenRain #1220276 06/20/09 09:20 PM
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Originally Posted by GreenRain
Why do you think that someone has to pay for not having the lessons? Is money really everything that matters? What about happiness when you know that you are the one to blame for student's improvement?

But that's all we care about. Haven't you understood that yet?

We are all a bunch of money-grubbing, heartless people who just went into piano teaching because of the Big Bucks. Part of the reason we are so rich is that we ask people to pay for time they have reserved. smile


Re: Cancelled Lessons
Gary D. #1220294 06/20/09 10:21 PM
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Of course i understand that "your pianists" cannot constantly skipp lessons, however, summer is different. Average human goes on vacation for 2-6 weeks.


Re: Cancelled Lessons
MrsCamels #1220296 06/20/09 10:28 PM
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I'm wondering how many of you give a studio policy to your students' parents and ask them to read and sign it?
I have thought about doing this. If they agree to your policy, they then agree to pay you for such missed lessons and etc., right? Especially if they sign it?
If people cannot accept our policies for whatever reason, we respect that and don't take them as students. Simple as that.
Just because we are teaching an art does not mean the act of teaching is not a business.


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Re: Cancelled Lessons
GreenRain #1220300 06/20/09 10:39 PM
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So, pick a teacher who will allow you to take your 2-6 week vacation, exactly as you want it. That's between you and your teacher.

I think MrsCamels is reasonable. You don't.

As I understand it she scheduled lessons for a family based on their saying that they would be attending lessons for June. As I understand it they cancelled for the rest of the month, by email.

This is not about your money.

It is about MrsCamels losing money. I absolutely don't understand why people who have NO idea what it is to teach and face the problems we face, financially, consistently assume that those of us who DO teach are out to clobber people unfairly.

But I'll let MrsCamels take it from here. Perhaps she is so rich from all the money she is making teaching piano that she hardly knows where to put it all.

I rather doubt it. I'd wager the truth is closer to struggling to keep her head above the water, like the rest of us.

Re: Cancelled Lessons
Barb860 #1220303 06/20/09 10:45 PM
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Originally Posted by Barb860
I'm wondering how many of you give a studio policy to your students' parents and ask them to read and sign it?
I have thought about doing this. If they agree to your policy, they then agree to pay you for such missed lessons and etc., right? Especially if they sign it?

Don't assume for one moment that any of the parents who sign a policy read it, no matter how much you ask them to, no matter how clearly you express your policy.

Some parents are very reasonable and pay attention. Some do not pay attention but are reasonable when things are pointed out to them. Some will fight over every cent and will attempt to wear us down unless we set limits and absolutely refuse to give in.

I have parents who skip lessons and do not even give me the courtesy of a call, then expect a make-up. They don't get it. But they will still try to push me until I hold the line.

I'm pretty sure that almost, if not all the teachers who make their living teaching private lessons face similar problems.

Re: Cancelled Lessons
Gary D. #1220304 06/20/09 10:45 PM
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Originally Posted by Gary D.
So, pick a teacher who will allow you to take your 2-6 week vacation, exactly as you want it. That's between you and your teacher.

I think MrsCamels is reasonable. You don't.

As I understand it she scheduled lessons for a family based on their saying that they would be attending lessons for June. As I understand it they cancelled for the rest of the month, by email.

This is not about your money.

It is about MrsCamels losing money. I absolutely don't understand why people who have NO idea what it is to teach and face the problems we face, financially, consistently assume that those of us who DO teach are out to clobber people unfairly.

But I'll let MrsCamels take it from here. Perhaps she is so rich from all the money she is making teaching piano that she hardly knows where to put it all.

I rather doubt it. I'd wager the truth is closer to struggling to keep her head above the water, like the rest of us.


+1
(I'm assuming that +1 means "I agree" cool)


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Re: Cancelled Lessons
MrsCamels #1220324 06/20/09 11:33 PM
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I hand my students a lengthy policy upon signing up for lessons. It is very strict and "business like".

I am also a music school teacher so I know the best way to enter a classroom is very strict...I can always get friendly LATER.

This technique has also performed well with my business. There are times when I do forgive a lesson. And my clients are very grateful. Sometimes I even add some extra time to a lesson for free. But for me it really depends on the client. I am usually able to screen out flaky students in the beginning. (Knock on wood...)

I guess my goal is to have a fulfilling job as well as dependable income. I have gone the my "way or the highway route" with my policy but for my personality it works better this way. I have routed my business to suit me as well as my students.

I offer them flexibility and travel to their homes but they are also flexible with me changing my schedule and running late as well. I strive for a healthy, personal business relationship. A job that is tailored for me and them...

Things have changed a little since I started teaching in a little music shop studio for $5 per lesson!


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Re: Cancelled Lessons
trillingadventurer #1220330 06/20/09 11:45 PM
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Originally Posted by trillingadventurer
I hand my students a lengthy policy upon signing up for lessons. It is very strict and "business like".

I am also a music school teacher so I know the best way to enter a classroom is very strict...I can always get friendly LATER.

Question: could you survive on the salary you make as a school teacher?

I think there is a difference, regardless, between teaching piano, no matter how many lessons a week, when there is a "steady job" for back-up and depending ONLY on the money made from teaching. I keep thinking of the saying, "Don't quite your day job."

But I agree with your strict first, easy later point. I think bending the rules is something that needs to be earned, which I think you are also expressing here:
Quote

This technique has also performed well with my business. There are times when I do forgive a lesson. And my clients are very grateful. Sometimes I even add some extra time to a lesson for free. But for me it really depends on the client. I am usually able to screen out flaky students in the beginning. (Knock on wood...)

I do much the same. The moment I sense people trying to jerk me around, I go right to the rules and do not give an inch. It has been much harder this year because of the economy. In the past I could literally boot people out if they caused problems and replace them immediately with more cooperative people on my waiting list. No waiting list this year, the first year EVER that I have no had one.
Quote

I guess my goal is to have a fulfilling job as well as dependable income. I have gone the my "way or the highway route" with my policy but for my personality it works better this way. I have routed my business to suit me as well as my students.

Wise path…
Quote

Things have changed a little since I started teaching in a little music shop studio for $5 per lesson!

Well, I can't remember ever teaching a lesson for that little. Perhaps so when I just started, but that was about 1968, and I was just getting started!

Last edited by Gary D.; 06/20/09 11:46 PM.
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