I have instituted a $100 non-refundable deposit, due before lessons begin.
It is NOT used for make-up lessons or supply fee.
If they choose to drop lessons, they MUST give a month's notice, and if they do,then the last month is "free" because I count the deposit money towards the last month.
No results yet- just a few months in and everyone at home lessons is still taking.
At the school I teach, there is a fine arts coordinator who takes care of ALL the book keeping. Parents pay for the entire semester up front.
If a student quits, I still get paid, because the time slot was provided for them and I came. Now, if the quitting family finds a replacement, then they work it out themselves, I do believe. But I am not a party to that.
Anyway, the $100 deposit for home lessons was not even blinked at, and the padding in my account is quite nice!
I do have a studio (supposed to be the dining room) that is dedicated to music, and I always dress professionally- dress or skirt, no jeans. I also set a 5 min warning bell timer so as to not run over.
Even if my next appointment is a shopping errand or reading a book, they do not need to know that! My schedule, my time.
Three years ago, I did have a school student's mom try to wiggle out of paying for lessons, but a good contract and documentation through e-mails and keeping the fine arts coordinator in the loop helped me prove that soccer and teenager girl stuff was the problem, not piano.
As to the current question,
collecting a relatively small bill from September 2014 when it is ow almost February 2015, is unlikely.
Try sending a bill in the mail.
A friend of mine, whose son started lessons, said she was pleasantly surprised to see that I give receipts for lessons and books. It made me seem more like a business than a nice piano lady.
And, while I like being a nice piano lady, it IS work, and I like getting paid for my efforts.
And, better luck next time!