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Piano Studio Policies - What is the ideal piano studio?
#2326283 09/11/14 03:26 AM
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As a piano teacher who's taught at a couple of studios, I'm wondering what kind of policies that teachers have enjoyed, or disliked.

Policies including -- sick days, vacation days, registration (monthly or full year), how much autonomy a teacher gets, how many hours are scheduled within a day, salary, insurance, benefits & more -- which do you feel work the best for yourself, your own preference, students, and for parents?

I am just curious because there are thousands of studios out there that run so differently, and interested in what piano teachers have to say. I understand that goals of every studio are different, but I want to know which policies do you feel make a studio more successful, a piano teacher happier, and a student happier?

Last edited by bittersweetmusique; 09/11/14 03:27 AM.

Classically trained (ARCT) piano teacher from Vancouver who aspires to improvise with confidence.
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Re: Piano Studio Policies - What is the ideal piano studio?
bittersweetmusique #2326523 09/11/14 06:02 PM
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Hi,

Well, I miss my annual treks to Vancouver & Whistler. It would be nice to have a cup of coffee together. However, I'm sure you must have a local chapter of your Canadian Music Teachers Association where you can meet other teachers and field questions especially germane to teaching in the Vancouver area.

Several of us have policies on our websites. There are also a number of pedagogy texts available with suggested studio policies.

Do you have a specific question or concern?

Regards,

John


"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: Piano Studio Policies - What is the ideal piano studio?
bittersweetmusique #2326596 09/11/14 10:20 PM
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I charge by the month, regardless of how many lessons the student attends. When there are five lessons in the month, there is no charge for the extra lesson. This compensates for a reasonable number of absences. If I have to cancel a lesson for some reason, I give credit for that lesson. I do not charge for weather cancellations or holidays.

I charge a non-refundable enrollment fee. If a student takes a leave of absence (usually in the summer), the enrollment fee applies again when they re-enroll.

I teach home educated students from 1:00 until 4:00, and public school students from 4:00 until 7:30. Students receive from 30 minutes to one hour, depending on maturity level/attention span, and how much they are achieving. About their third year, we can't cover everything we need to in a half hour. I have a developmentally delayed boy who would not be able to take a lesson longer than a half hour, no matter how much a vary his activities.

Hope this is helpful.

Re: Piano Studio Policies - What is the ideal piano studio?
bittersweetmusique #2326599 09/11/14 10:25 PM
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Originally Posted by bittersweetmusique


Policies including -- sick days, vacation days, registration (monthly or full year), how much autonomy a teacher gets, how many hours are scheduled within a day, salary, insurance, benefits & more -- which do you feel work the best for yourself, your own preference, students, and for parents?



It sounds to me as if you are contemplating running a multiple-teacher operation, with employees. Very few of us on this board have such experience, I'm guessing, as a boss. And few even as an actual employee.

There are no sick days or paid vacation days for an independent studio piano teacher. Nor are there any benefits, in the traditional workplace sense of the term.

Conversely, as a teacher I have total autonomy to work as I please. That's a nice trade-off for earning less money than most salaried folks.


Re: Piano Studio Policies - What is the ideal piano studio?
Peter K. Mose #2326650 09/12/14 02:13 AM
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Hi Peter,

No, I am not planning to operate a multi-teacher studio. I don't prefer it because I'm more passionate about teaching than business, and once I do have my own studio running, I will want to be the only teacher (to provide teaching consistency). And the reason I am not running my own studio at the moment is because I live in a condo with my parents!

I am just curious because I've worked at independent studios - one which did not allow any days off through the entire school year unless it were an emergency.. and then at another studio (Long & McQuade) which was much more flexible, was totally fine with you rescheduling any lessons that you miss if you wanted to take a vacation (within reason, of course).

I just found that once teachers had more autonomy at a multi-teacher studio, they are much happier.. but the consequence is that there may be lack of consistency with teaching when a student perhaps switches teachers due to changes in their schedule.

The independent studio also charged for 10 months, while Long & McQuade charges by month. I just started working at Long & McQuade and enjoy the flexibility, trust, and higher salary that I believe teachers deserve (some independent studios give meager income compared to a teacher's qualifications) and at independent involve lots of hierarchy politics (but probably inevitable and understandable).


Classically trained (ARCT) piano teacher from Vancouver who aspires to improvise with confidence.
Re: Piano Studio Policies - What is the ideal piano studio?
Mrs. Akers #2326653 09/12/14 02:19 AM
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Hi Mrs. Akers,

Thank you for sharing! I find it interesting when teachers charge a set month fee. Most teachers will charge per lesson, but that usually causes complications when dealing with sick days or absences.

It's nice to know policies that have worked out for you!


Classically trained (ARCT) piano teacher from Vancouver who aspires to improvise with confidence.
Re: Piano Studio Policies - What is the ideal piano studio?
John v.d.Brook #2326654 09/12/14 02:22 AM
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Hello,

Definitely swing by sometime! Yes I'm part of the registered music teachers association, but only have joined just recently. I'll definitely be asking around for more input at the next meeting.

There are just thousands of variations of policies out there, and I'm just curious to know which policies has successfully worked out for teachers, and which hasn't. Being a young piano teacher it's nice to know what more experienced teachers have to say about this.

Take care!


Classically trained (ARCT) piano teacher from Vancouver who aspires to improvise with confidence.
Re: Piano Studio Policies - What is the ideal piano studio?
bittersweetmusique #2326978 09/12/14 11:58 PM
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Some of the things in my studio policy (paraphrased):

Tuition is based on a yearly fee, divided into 4 quarterly payments. Students will receive 34 lessons plus 2 recitals. Tuition must be received by the Sunday of the week in which it's due; payments received after that will need to include the $20 late fee.

Holidays - the music studio will be closed the following weeks (I then list Thanksgiving, 2 weeks for Christmas, Easter, and an extra week that I can take off whenever, if I'm sick, etc..)

Makeup Lessons - since the tuition paid reserves a time slot in a weekly, there are no makeups given for lessons missed by the student.

Cancellation Policy - a 1-month written notice is required to withdraw from lessons. Tuition and any late penalties will accrue until notice is received.

-----

I also include a paragraph about siblings in the studio, what kind of instrument I expect students to have, and what the annual enrollment fee covers.


Music School Owner
Early Childhood Music Teacher/Group Piano Teacher/Private Piano Teacher
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Re: Piano Studio Policies - What is the ideal piano studio?
bittersweetmusique #2326993 09/13/14 01:23 AM
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One of the studios I was looking into had a policy that only four lessons per month would be given. If, for example, there are 5 Tuesdays in the month, then the last Tuesday would be used for make up lessons if necessary. I kind of liked this policy because it avoids having to try to find time to schedule makeups and would give me a catch-up day, but maybe missed lessons (due to a student's excusable absence or my cancellation) are not frequent enough to make this worth it.


Professional pianist and piano teacher.
Re: Piano Studio Policies - What is the ideal piano studio?
bittersweetmusique #2327002 09/13/14 02:45 AM
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I adopt a similar policy to teaching at a school. I invoice my students every term, which is about 11 lessons on average(offering a slight discount than if they would pay lesson by lesson). There are 3 terms a year.

If they wish to stop lessons, it's half a terms notice (roughly 5-6 weeks). If they miss a lesson they are still charged, and I only make up a lesson if they let me know a week in advance of a future absence. This gives my sufficient time for rescheduling my teaching timetable. A week might seem excessive for a cancellation policy, but I find it works well if you establish it from the off. Any lessons I miss, I will make up or pay the student a refund.

Re: Piano Studio Policies - What is the ideal piano studio?
bittersweetmusique #2329770 09/21/14 07:55 PM
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It took me a few years, but I think I have finally found something that works for me. In order to make lesson tuition the same each month, the lesson payment is averaged out over a 12 month period. Students receive regular lessons during the school year excluding the week of Thanksgiving, 2 weeks around Christmas/New Years, and a "spring break." The dates I take off are the exact dates that the county I live in has as scheduled school holidays. Students are expected to take six lessons per summer break (6 lessons over usually an 11 week period). This all totals out to 43 lessons. I then subtract 1 lesson as an absence for myself. If I am able to make all lessons, the student will be given the extra lesson free of charge.

So 42 x hourly rate = X divided by 12 months in the year = The monthly amount

This gives me ample time away, a sick day, and I usually take a few long weekends in the summer. This gives the students breaks and solves the problem of families missing excessively in the summer due to vacations. And best of all, I am paid the same thing in October which has 5 weeks, as I will be in the month of July when students are not coming as frequently.

I do makeups if I can, but they are not guaranteed. I require one full month's notice of lesson termination.

Re: Piano Studio Policies - What is the ideal piano studio?
RachelEDNC #2330150 09/23/14 01:19 AM
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Originally Posted by RachelEDNC

I do makeups if I can, but they are not guaranteed. I require one full month's notice of lesson termination.


I understand why you have the termination notice, but how are the lessons after notice has been given? Wouldn't that be awkward? Or do people just stop coming and pay for the month anyway?


Professional pianist and piano teacher.
Re: Piano Studio Policies - What is the ideal piano studio?
bittersweetmusique #2330214 09/23/14 08:34 AM
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Most take advantage of at least a few of the lessons. It's not awkward, but I have developed a "shell" to deflect bad feelings when a student quits. I just try to be as nice and understanding as possible. To my knowledge, I have not had a student quit to go to another teacher, which could potentially be awkward. They are generally just quitting because they don't practice or are over loaded with activities.

Re: Piano Studio Policies - What is the ideal piano studio?
RachelEDNC #2338918 10/18/14 09:17 PM
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Thanks for the reply! It definitely makes sense to give notice before a termination. I find it's even more awkward if you quit without notice, because it makes the teacher think they've done something wrong. I also think most teachers genuinely care about their students, and would like to keep on good terms with the student.

Unfortunately I have experienced students quitting abruptly (or, their mothers telling me frantically that their daughter/son doesn't like piano anymore), while I would see their scoring from examinations continue onwards (signifying that they've switched teachers). For our RCM examinations system in Canada, teachers are able to continually view the mark of their student after you've submit them once before.

Definitely causes for an awkward situation - especially if that student was a family friend (Yes, I know, don't include friends in business). I do appreciate honesty when quitting, but business is business, and that doesn't always happen. Especially if they feel guilty or don't want to hurt your feelings. That's why I believe giving a few weeks notice will deflect the avoidant behaviour that some parents will have with you, and the teacher definitely deserves it in order to reorganize their schedule. I try not to take it to heart though, because even as an advanced piano student, I've done my fair share of jumping many WONDERFUL teachers frequently in order to get different perspectives. It's fair game!



Classically trained (ARCT) piano teacher from Vancouver who aspires to improvise with confidence.

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