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How to make the fall schedule less of a nightmare?
#1942595 08/14/12 01:19 PM
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This is my least favorite time of the year.

At my studio, the students who take the summer off but wish to return in the fall must pay a deposit to secure their spot when they return. Over the summer I accumulate new students in their absence.

The problem is when the time comes to start working on the fall schedule. Nobody knows what time they want to come for their lesson because they are still waiting to get their schedules from school, sports, and other activities. Then my students who took the summer off want to change their old spot. Half of them don't even get back with me when I contact them about it. I have just as many openings as I do students, so there is NO room for flexibility (and no, I cannot extend my teaching hours). Complete nightmare.

It's like this every year and I can't find a way around it. Does anyone else experience this too? If not, TEACH ME YOUR WAYS.


"Why should we be in such desperate haste to succeed, and in such desperate enterprises? If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured and far away." -Thoreau
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Re: How to make the fall schedule less of a nightmare?
toejamfutbol #1942636 08/14/12 02:33 PM
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First of all, you can count your blessings in that you have plenty of students.

I'd say schedule your slots on a first-come, first-serve basis. Students who took lessons over the summer and students who have been with you longest would get first choice, but if they aren't ready to schedule, put them at the bottom of the list and contact the next one. When you're full, you're full. It's possible that you might have to refund someone's deposit if they couldn't make up their mind in time to get a lesson spot.

If they don't return your call, it's their loss. You shouldn't have to beg them to schedule a time.

I would suggest that you consider a scheduling policy that makes it easy on you, and provide all students with a written copy of it.


Re: How to make the fall schedule less of a nightmare?
toejamfutbol #1942675 08/14/12 03:44 PM
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You might consider making your Fall schedule much earlier... say, before school gets out.

My students know in May when their piano time slot will be in the Fall. They pay the registration fee at that time and that holds their spot. Since I don't see most of my students over the summer, at least I know who will be returning and can plan accordingly. The reason I have students reserve their slot so early came about because I wanted parents to know for sure when lessons would be and then they could schedule OTHER after school activities around piano (and not the other way around). So far it's worked fine, with most parents appreciating that piano is already scheduled.

There will be a few parents, though, who call me mid-August and ask if they can change the lesson time because 'Suzy's moved up to a new gymnastics class this year and it now conflicts'. Sometimes I can make a switch, sometimes I can't. Then the parent has to make a choice.

Seasonal sports can also be an issue but you'd have that problem if the student committed to a lesson time in May or in September.


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Re: How to make the fall schedule less of a nightmare?
dumdumdiddle #1942940 08/14/12 10:46 PM
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I am going through this same thing and it's much crazier than in years past, because our local school district changed the schools' release times to later every day. These changes were made over the summer, after people had committed to days and times for fall. So I am having to push everyone out and it's getting into the later evening hours and it's not good.
But yes, be grateful that we have waiting lists and have this problem in the first place!

I do not have a solution, and was actually going to post this question myself today. First come first served seems to be the only thing that makes sense.


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Re: How to make the fall schedule less of a nightmare?
toejamfutbol #1943056 08/15/12 07:39 AM
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I might also share here that about half of our students are home educated. Those families give us very few challenges in scheduling because their schedules are flexible. We can teach through the earlier hours of the day.

You might want to consider advertising among the home educators in your area.

Re: How to make the fall schedule less of a nightmare?
toejamfutbol #1943069 08/15/12 08:00 AM
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I am very grateful that my schedule is so full! It is surely a blessing.

Thanks for the tips. smile


"Why should we be in such desperate haste to succeed, and in such desperate enterprises? If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured and far away." -Thoreau
Re: How to make the fall schedule less of a nightmare?
toejamfutbol #1943337 08/15/12 04:59 PM
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This year hasn't been a problem because my studio is so small. But in past years, I've told everyone they get first dibs to continue at the same time they had previously. If they need to change times, it's first come, first served.


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Re: How to make the fall schedule less of a nightmare?
toejamfutbol #1943342 08/15/12 05:13 PM
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I only had one person who didn't like their time slot, but another student was able to swap with her to make it work. I think this year was the easiest to schedule.


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Re: How to make the fall schedule less of a nightmare?
toejamfutbol #1943554 08/16/12 03:35 AM
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The best way to avoid fall nightmares is to have students who do not stop taking lessons in the summer.

Other than that:

1) Anyone who is taking lessons keeps his time.if he still wants it.
2) If someone who has been there every week in the summer needs to change a time, and that time is not yet filled, give it to him. Then if someone who took time off for the summer is not pleased, it's a learning experience. Don't take summer off then expect to have things your way.

Every fall I have parents come back, irritated that either they can't have their favorite times back or have no times at all left.

And that makes me VERY happy. It gives me the opporunity to say:

Why do you think you needs come first when you did not consider mine? wink

Re: How to make the fall schedule less of a nightmare?
Gary D. #1944101 08/16/12 07:52 PM
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Re: How to make the fall schedule less of a nightmare?
John v.d.Brook #1944105 08/16/12 08:04 PM
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Scenario:

Student stops lessons for summer, understanding they will lose their time slot. Same student calls mid August, asking if there are any spots available for him.
Meanwhile, you have new students who started with you over the summer and want to continue in the fall.

Who gets the lesson times?
New (summer) student or student who took the summer off?


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Re: How to make the fall schedule less of a nightmare?
Gary D. #1944117 08/16/12 08:20 PM
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Agree! Also, the other way is to avoid students whose parents prioritize gymnastics, softball, etc. above piano. Unless you're a top priority, you'll always have to work around your students' schedule. They should be working around yours.


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Re: How to make the fall schedule less of a nightmare?
pianoeagle #1944145 08/16/12 09:49 PM
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Originally Posted by pianoeagle
Agree! Also, the other way is to avoid students whose parents prioritize gymnastics, softball, etc. above piano. Unless you're a top priority, you'll always have to work around your students' schedule. They should be working around yours.

I agree with you in principle, but if I did that I would lose about 60% of my clients.


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Re: How to make the fall schedule less of a nightmare?
AZNpiano #1944190 08/16/12 10:52 PM
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Originally Posted by AZNpiano
Originally Posted by pianoeagle
Agree! Also, the other way is to avoid students whose parents prioritize gymnastics, softball, etc. above piano. Unless you're a top priority, you'll always have to work around your students' schedule. They should be working around yours.

I agree with you in principle, but if I did that I would lose about 60% of my clients.


Yep, me too.


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Re: How to make the fall schedule less of a nightmare?
Barb860 #1944194 08/16/12 10:58 PM
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Originally Posted by Barb860
Scenario:

Student stops lessons for summer, understanding they will lose their time slot. Same student calls mid August, asking if there are any spots available for him.
Meanwhile, you have new students who started with you over the summer and want to continue in the fall.

Who gets the lesson times?
New (summer) student or student who took the summer off?


Couldn't you prepare a list of times that are still available?


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Re: How to make the fall schedule less of a nightmare?
Barb860 #1944327 08/17/12 07:24 AM
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Originally Posted by Barb860
Scenario:

Student stops lessons for summer, understanding they will lose their time slot. Same student calls mid August, asking if there are any spots available for him.
Meanwhile, you have new students who started with you over the summer and want to continue in the fall.

Who gets the lesson times?
New (summer) student or student who took the summer off?


Barb, in my studio once a student starts lessons he may keep his lesson time. When he takes unpaid leave, the lesson is not reserved for him. So in the scenario above, the new student gets to keep the lesson time. BTW, most of my students continue lessons through the summer.


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