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Fall Prep
#1256445 08/26/09 11:45 AM
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I was reading over the post regarding contract changes for the fall and got a bunch of ideas regarding other changes to make. Thought I'd share them and get some critiques from you all before thrusting them on my students:

1. Switching to binders instead of notebooks. These will include sections for lesson notes, composition, loose music, AAA list, practice checklists, etc. Also will included checklist for benchmark goals (aural skills, scale tempos, etc.)

2. Switching to bi-monthly billing instead of every month. I admit that people don't always pay on time and although I do threaten to charge a late fee (in my contract), I've never actually charged it b/c there always seems to be a good reason (absent, traveling, got the bill a week late, etc). I know you're going to eat me alive for this. Thought I'd switch to bimonthly billing in advance and actually implement my late fee charges. Current students who express a desire to stay with monthly billing will be able to do so. All new students will be billed 2 months at a time.

3. Mailing bills and announcements instead of giving them out at lessons. Hopefully, this will also encourage timely payment and more serious attention to notices.

4. Letter to parents/students with my fall semester goals for their students to create a shared vision between home and lessons of what they're working on.

5. Creating a benchmark guide for all my students and keeping track of what I've taught them. Right now we work through books, but I do not have a system of keeping track of other goals, such as improvising techniques, aural skills, theory retention, etc.

any ideas?
i haven't raised my prices, but i'm considering an extra $5/month or so for 45 and 60 min lessons to help cover new materials, etc.


Teaching since 2004
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Re: Fall Prep
MrsCamels #1256666 08/26/09 04:47 PM
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Originally Posted by MrsCamels

2. Switching to bi-monthly billing instead of every month. I admit that people don't always pay on time and although I do threaten to charge a late fee (in my contract), I've never actually charged it b/c there always seems to be a good reason (absent, traveling, got the bill a week late, etc). I know you're going to eat me alive for this. Thought I'd switch to bimonthly billing in advance and actually implement my late fee charges. Current students who express a desire to stay with monthly billing will be able to do so. All new students will be billed 2 months at a time.

3. Mailing bills and announcements instead of giving them out at lessons. Hopefully, this will also encourage timely payment and more serious attention to notices.

i haven't raised my prices, but i'm considering an extra $5/month or so for 45 and 60 min lessons to help cover new materials, etc.


OK, I've seen this a few times before and I just don't get it. Why do teachers send out monthly bills for tuition? Do parents not remember that tuition is due the first lesson of the month? Or maybe you charge by the semester and payments are due in the middle of a particular month??

If you have a studio policy that clearly states when tuition is due (and the penalty for failing to get tuition in on time), that should suffice. It costs time and money to print and send out invoices.

I have a large studio. Tuition is due by the 10th of the month. Almost every month I'll have about a dozen or so students who will still not have paid at the first lesson of the month. So, I send them an email reminder that states that if tuition isn't received by the 10th, they'll need to include a $20 late fee. It's amazing how by the evening of the 10th I'll find several envelopes under my doormat.

Music education is also about training parents.


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Re: Fall Prep
dumdumdiddle #1256705 08/26/09 05:26 PM
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Originally Posted by dumdumdiddle
Music education is also about training parents.


You can tell a lot about a studio when you go to its studio recital (if it has one) and observe how the parents behave. Very telling...


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Re: Fall Prep
AZNpiano #1256732 08/26/09 06:01 PM
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Yes, very true. For our monthly MTAC recitals we finally had to put together a flier entitled 'recital etiquette' to pass out to all of our recital participants/families. You would think that things like NOT walking around when someone is performing, NOT letting the door slam shut during a performance, NOT letting your 2 year old run up and down the pew or row, etc... would be common knowledge. Mmm...


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Re: Fall Prep
dumdumdiddle #1256739 08/26/09 06:12 PM
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Your changes sound good. Definitely add a tuition increase, and don't send out bills. Charge either by the semester or monthly, and if monthly, collect all the checks at the beginning of the semester (post dated) and cash them on time. Then you avoid late fees!


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Re: Fall Prep
Stanny #1256931 08/27/09 12:34 AM
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oops, i kept saying bi-monthly - what i meant was 2 months at a time, not 2x/month.

i guess you're right that I don't need to send out bills. hmm... that will take some getting used to.

for some students, i have to bill their accountant (it's LA - don't ask), so i'd still need to send invoices for those.

mulling over these thoughts...


Teaching since 2004
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Re: Fall Prep
MrsCamels #1257108 08/27/09 10:09 AM
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I find that sending out bills is a good reminder. This year I've asked those who wish to receive invoices via email can do so, to help cut down on costs (since I didn't raise my rates this year) and to save a tree or two. However, not sending out bills would take some training I think. Personally, if they treat piano like any other monthly payment (or 3 times a year if they pay by the semester) then I have less problems with people forgetting. Most parents know when payment is due, but there are those who do forget, and the invoice helps to remind them.

I think the more reminders you give people, the less likely they will forget about it, you know? I just set up a paypal account (which is free to do), and students can pay for their lessons via my website. They can even set up recurring monthly payments so they don't have to worry about it, using their credit or debit card, or direct withdrawal from a bank account. It costs me a few dollars per transaction for the convenience, but I think it's worth it (by law you can't charge a different rate for these kinds of payments I think).

I like your idea of setting goals. In some ways this could be helpful if done in collaboration with the student, but I know that if I asked many of my students what their goals are, they would have no idea so it would take a bit of work to help them define a goal or two. But I think it would be worthwhile to do, and have it in their notebook and even write out steps to achieve that goal.


private piano/voice teacher FT

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