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#1441035 - 05/21/10 03:01 PM 50 Percent of Students Dropping For Summer RE-POST
ILoveMusicTheory Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/02/07
Posts: 24
Loc: Illinois, USA
The following is my re-post of a non-working post that gives a browser error message.

I'm at my wit's end. It seems every time I check my email lately I get another message of, "We're going to be withdrawing (fill in name of student here) for the summer. We'll see you in September."

From the look of things, my teaching income, which sadly is something both my husband and I depend on to pay both studio rent and the normal kind, stands to be reduced at least 50%. I've been doing this for a while and every summer it's the same. People really flake out.

Any suggestions of what to do about this impending problem? Does anyone have a suggestion for adapting tuition structure to avoid this issue? Is there anything I can say or do within the realm of tact about the whole desertion thing?
I'm an independent piano & guitar teacher from Illinois.

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#1441038 - 05/21/10 03:06 PM Re: 50 Percent of Students Dropping For Summer RE-POST [Re: ILoveMusicTheory]
ILoveMusicTheory Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/02/07
Posts: 24
Loc: Illinois, USA
Thank you for the strategies that other teachers posted on my other (non-working) post. Especially good was the suggestion to make the best lesson times available only to those who continue over the summer. I will definitely put most if not all the strategies suggested into effect.

I'm going to try and take the high road/positive approach by advertising as much as possible to get new students and rewarding those who are loyally continuing over the summer with coupons and free group classes.

More suggestions and advice is welcomed--I know I'm not the only one out there facing a severe loss of students this summer.
I'm an independent piano & guitar teacher from Illinois.

#1441047 - 05/21/10 03:32 PM Re: 50 Percent of Students Dropping For Summer RE-POST [Re: ILoveMusicTheory]
keystring Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 14203
Loc: Canada
link that works to the original post link

#1441240 - 05/21/10 08:37 PM Re: 50 Percent of Students Dropping For Summer RE-POST [Re: ILoveMusicTheory]
ChrisA Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/28/08
Posts: 3841
Loc: Redondo Beach, California
I posted this under a different thread. From a parents perspective, they are ding the right thing. The typical policy is that a student signs up for weekly lessions at a given time and pays for all of them even if they have to cancel. In the summer the parent can't commit to this kind of ridged schedule.

Why not adapt and allow ad-hoc scheduling? Allow students to pay for just one lesson. Allows apointments to me made like in a dentist office.

The root of the problem is that the parent is required to pay in advance but s/he has no way to know more then a few days in advance when they come in for a lesson. So the parent drops to avoid the risk.

To fix the problem you need to give the parent some other way to avoid the risk.

#1441283 - 05/21/10 09:52 PM Re: 50 Percent of Students Dropping For Summer RE-POST [Re: ILoveMusicTheory]
Barb860 Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/11/09
Posts: 1654
Loc: northern California
Do you have a policy stating that students who commit to summer lessons have a spot reserved for them in the fall?
Piano Teacher

#1441286 - 05/21/10 09:53 PM Re: 50 Percent of Students Dropping For Summer RE-POST [Re: ChrisA]
Andy Platt Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/28/10
Posts: 2496
Loc: Virginia, USA
I'm not sure the dental office analogy works well.

You need to decide whether if you allow people to sign up for ad-hoc lessons during the summer (with a small markup over the "fixed" plan) you will win or lose overall. I suspect those who can commit will, those who can't will be happy at the chance to get some lessons and you will all win.

(Views of a student, not a teacher).
  • Debussy - Le Petit Nègre, L. 114
  • Haydn - Sonata in Gm, Hob. XVI/44

Kawai K3

#1441360 - 05/22/10 12:59 AM Re: 50 Percent of Students Dropping For Summer RE-POST [Re: Andy Platt]
dumdumdiddle Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/16/06
Posts: 1269
Loc: California
I have required my students to schedule (and pay in advance) for a minimum of 6 lessons out of an 11-week summer. Most parents have their vacation schedules planned ahead of time anyway and are trying to schedule in other summer activities to fill their kids' time. In the summer I teach 2 full weekdays (Tue and Wed), avoiding Mon and Fri when short trips to the beach are more likely to happen. Students who sign up for summer lessons will have preference for the Fall. One student was going to be overseas the entire summer; the mom gave me a check for the 6 lessons anyway to be assured that her child would have a preferred spot in September.

You might also change your whole calendar, including the way you talk initially with parents (particularly new parents), to get them thinking from the beginning that piano is an ongoing commitment for the ENTIRE year, not just the school year.
Music School Owner
Early Childhood Music Teacher/Group Piano Teacher/Private Piano Teacher
Member of MTAC and Guild

#1441557 - 05/22/10 10:37 AM Re: 50 Percent of Students Dropping For Summer RE-POST [Re: dumdumdiddle]
Overexposed Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/22/08
Posts: 2651
My policy states that if a students stops lessons, there is a re-enrollment fee (equal to one month's tuition) upon return. The exception to this is during June and July. If they take 4 lessons over June/July then the re-enrollment fee is waived. When someone stops lessons, their lesson time is not reserved for them.

I just had an email from a parent whose stepson will be spending 7 weeks this summer with his mother in another state. Instead of dropping for summer she asked if her 5 year old daughter could take his place...and it would serve as trial period to see if they want the daughter to take lessons yet. That way she keeps the lesson time, avoids the re-enrollment fee and got motivated to start her 5 year old in lessons. So this policy is REALLY working! I am delighted!!

#1441664 - 05/22/10 02:14 PM Re: 50 Percent of Students Dropping For Summer RE-POST [Re: Overexposed]
danshure Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/29/10
Posts: 347
Loc: Massachusetts
If anyone wishes to read my full contract it is here;


I've just revised it, as its my first summer teaching out of my home with a full schedule (I used to teach at a school).

As far as what to do about summer lessons, I am trying a little Duets program. I'm making it short (4 weeks) and open to anyone in the area (not just my students). This way if a student of mine has a friend that also does piano, maybe they'll sign up together.

You can see complete info about it at;


I've never tried something like it before, so I'll let you all know if it actually works!
Go here ---> Piano Teaching Blog

#1441732 - 05/22/10 05:15 PM Re: 50 Percent of Students Dropping For Summer RE-POST [Re: danshure]
Dorrie Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/09/05
Posts: 438
My teacher gives lessons all year round. He is more flexible with make-ups during the summer.

My daughter's (cello) teacher requires a few (4 or 6 - I forget) lessons scheduled over the summer (mid June through after Labor Day), however, students scheduling more lessons get them at a significant discount. Last summer my daughter and 2 of her friends who also play took several lessons a week for 3 weeks. Teachers often think this would be great for small children, but it also has advantages for busy middle/high schoolers as well. A lot of bad habits can be unlearned and good progress made with extra lessons/coaching.


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