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Re: Parents that exhaust my energy [Re: Morodiene] #2728762
04/13/18 10:12 AM
04/13/18 10:12 AM
Joined: Dec 2010
Posts: 258
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I bill monthly per lesson depending on how many lessons are in the month (exceptions Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Spring Break). I have this laid out crystal clear in my piano studio policy that I have a parent sign at the beginning of every school year and I keep the copy until the next year. Before doing this, I had so many parents calling at the last minute or lying about where their child was (and yes, you often do find out the truth) that I implemented a no makeup policy except for the Summer when I would rather have the child attend when they are in town than not at all. It stopped all of the last minute calls wanting me to do a make up (or often demanding I do it). I lost one student, but that Father was one of the two families that was a major problem. Child was in tears, but Dad was and is a jerk.

I do agree that our PC culture is wreaking havoc, worshipping at the sports altar and every music student hanging a "piano teacher shingle" in my university town. I had one of those graduates who had a web page so I took a look at it because she was a voice major who I didn't think could play beyond some group required lessons. She posted a video of one of her students playing an arrangement of "Joshua Fit the Battle of Jericho" (Faber) on it. Rhythm was all wrong as well as the starting and stopping all the time. She honestly thought the video was showing her teaching expertise. We have a few teachers lowballing fees and two music school charging high fees with music graduates like her. Makes me SO irritated. Children are so overscheduled that an adult could not keep up with and sadly, it is only going to get much worse.


Bachelor of Music (church music)
Master of Church Music (organ, music education)
Piano Teacher since 1992
Church Musician since 1983
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Re: Parents that exhaust my energy [Re: Morodiene] #2728766
04/13/18 10:22 AM
04/13/18 10:22 AM
Joined: Feb 2018
Posts: 55
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mostlystrings Offline
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I was tripped up by "talk to them during the lesson and eat up lesson time" because I would actually do that! (in order to get something important discussed if the parent was otherwise unresponsive or had been staying in the car instead of being in the lesson as required)

Originally Posted by Andamento
In other words, he thought the one November lesson should be combined with the three December lessons to equal one month. My policy was that for students who start after the first scheduled lesson of a month, tuition is pro-rated for that month, and then after that, all months are equal installments (1/12 of my annual tuition). When you consider that there are longer and shorter months over the long term, it all averages out in the end.

I've had similar awkward timing and just let them have the Nov lesson "for free" (not free, just not a separate line-item). For example, if today is Nov 22 and we just had a "successful interview", I might say, the remaining semester tuition for Dec and Jan is X, but we can start the schedule on Nov 29. Suppose it's an open time between two students and no one else is lined up, it doesn't cost me anything to teach someone at that time. But that's my choice to offer and I would privately look askance on someone who demanded it.

Last edited by mostlystrings; 04/13/18 10:31 AM.
Re: Parents that exhaust my energy [Re: mostlystrings] #2728787
04/13/18 11:42 AM
04/13/18 11:42 AM
Joined: Dec 2017
Posts: 220
USA
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Andamento Offline
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Originally Posted by mostlystrings
I was tripped up by "talk to them during the lesson and eat up lesson time" because I would actually do that! (in order to get something important discussed if the parent was otherwise unresponsive or had been staying in the car instead of being in the lesson as required)

Originally Posted by Andamento
In other words, he thought the one November lesson should be combined with the three December lessons to equal one month. My policy was that for students who start after the first scheduled lesson of a month, tuition is pro-rated for that month, and then after that, all months are equal installments (1/12 of my annual tuition). When you consider that there are longer and shorter months over the long term, it all averages out in the end.

I've had similar awkward timing and just let them have the Nov lesson "for free" (not free, just not a separate line-item). For example, if today is Nov 22 and we just had a "successful interview", I might say, the remaining semester tuition for Dec and Jan is X, but we can start the schedule on Nov 29. Suppose it's an open time between two students and no one else is lined up, it doesn't cost me anything to teach someone at that time. But that's my choice to offer and I would privately look askance on someone who demanded it.


MostlyStrings, I agree. "But that's my choice to offer and I would privately look askance on someone who demanded it." I have a student who will be in Europe for a few weeks this summer for a musical event I'm not involved in. There will be a partial month before she leaves, a partial month after she returns, and then a third partial month before she heads off to college. I'm consolidating those "months" into two tuition payments rather than three, because they've been loyal and more than good to me in many ways over the years I've had this student.

It's an entirely different matter when someone expects a teacher to change the way she does things in order to please oneself. And nervy, if I do say so myself, to expect it of someone with whom one has never done business.

Let me demonstrate my generosity willingly without demanding it of me.

Re: Parents that exhaust my energy [Re: Morodiene] #2728807
04/13/18 01:26 PM
04/13/18 01:26 PM
Joined: Aug 2008
Posts: 6,324
South Florida
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Gary D. Online content
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Gary D.  Online Content
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Joined: Aug 2008
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South Florida
My lessons are paid by month, according to how many weeks are in the month. It's clearer this way. There is no way to argue against paying for 5 lesson in a month when there are 5 weeks.

I do no meet and greets. But I give a reduced rate for the first month, which is a trial month for everyone. This gives new families or students a month to get used to me, and I have a month to decide if I want to keep going.

A huge amount of important things happens in those first few weeks. It gives me time to make sure the instrument at home is OK, that some amount of work is going to get done, what family dynamics are like, and so on.

I understand the advantages of getting people to sign contracts and getting people to commit for a year, or for 9 months, but the way I do things is more compatible with life in my area.

I have never taught a free lesson. If people want to check me out, I'm absolutely fine with that. It means I get to check them out.

If people want just one lesson, as a trial, I'll take that lesson and add it for credit for the first month if they continue. But for that one lesson it is an extra 50%.

I just did that with a 4 year-old. The mother was very insistent that he is ready. Starting a kid at four can be a disaster, so I insisted back that we have to see how it goes, for one lesson. She was OK for spending extra, because I told her that if we greenlight the whole thing, I'll change it to a good first month rate. The boy was exceptional, and we immediately changed to a regular first month of lessons. I met both parents. They speak three lessons, all were very supportive in the lesson and on board for being at the lessons.

I do have people suddenly quit in a way that they would not if they were "trapped" into a contract, but that absolutely does not change much for most students. I have a high percentage of students continue during the summer and even for most of the weeks during Xmas.

I'm very lenient about make-ups with families who are cooperative. I give extra time to families I like, continuing some lessons when the next student is not there, or when someone shows up early and no student is there. Making up is no problem for me if I already have time blocked, and things are open. I think this is why I don't see to get lied to. Example: during spring break one mother did not call. Turns out she had the wrong number in her cell phone. But she was fine with a make-up, the kid was prepared, and I had the time. Over a long period I always have extra time. I only schedule make-ups in between other lessons.

When families lie to me or play games - and I know when this happens - they don't get one extra second, no leeway in make-ups. If they are late paying, the charge for monthly lessons goes up. This does NOT happen very often.


Piano Teacher
Re: Parents that exhaust my energy [Re: malkin] #2728825
04/13/18 02:33 PM
04/13/18 02:33 PM
Joined: Sep 2006
Posts: 1,852
NJ
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chasingrainbows Offline
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NJ
Originally Posted by malkin
Originally Posted by casinitaly

The problem with students paying lesson by lesson is that in 99/100 cases if they miss a lesson they won't (or really don't want to ) pay for it .


I had a private client who stood me up--they were at home, and I showed up at their door and could hear them inside. I did not leave until they answered the door and informed me that they did not want the session they had scheduled and not cancelled. And of course they did not wish to pay for it. (This was our final interaction.)

Originally Posted by casinitaly

Also - if you take payment every week you spend time every week collecting, noting the payment and so on. Sure it's only five minutes a lesson but when you have 20 students.....it adds up!!

The same family took a minimum of 20 minutes after each session: reminder to pay, locate the checkbook, deal with interruptions from the dog, the toddler, the phone, and whatever else was more important than their son's speech and language and then finally to write the !@##$* check.



Malkin, I had a similar experience - family took an extra 10 minutes getting payment together, until I "changed" my policy to ask for payment before the first lesson each month. Check was waiting every month. smile

They also thought that after the lesson, it was time for a mini-conference re: the lesson. After I raised my very low fee a few dollars, they claimed the child sustained an injury, and had to temporarily stop lessons. A few months later, they called me, begging me to teach their son. They at least admitted that they had tried another teacher. I would have taken the boy back, if they had not dropped me for months.


Piano teacher, BA Music, MTNA member
Re: Parents that exhaust my energy [Re: Gary D.] #2728828
04/13/18 02:41 PM
04/13/18 02:41 PM
Joined: Sep 2006
Posts: 1,852
NJ
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chasingrainbows Offline
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NJ
Quote
[/quote]I'm very lenient about make-ups with families who are cooperative. I give extra time to families I like, continuing some lessons when the next student is not there, or when someone shows up early and no student is there. Making up is no problem for me if I already have time blocked, and things are open. I think this is why I don't see to get lied to. Example: during spring break one mother did not call. Turns out she had the wrong number in her cell phone. But she was fine with a make-up, the kid was prepared, and I had the time. Over a long period I always have extra time. I only schedule make-ups in between other lessons.[quote]


Gary D., I do the same. I will make exceptions for families who are cooperative. Whenever a student cancels, I immediately text parents who need make up lessons. However, I have had families who claim student illness when they are not. Since I don't want to lose the students' trust, I don't directly deal with the parent, but in the future, they will not get makeups as easily, if at all.


Piano teacher, BA Music, MTNA member
Re: Parents that exhaust my energy [Re: chasingrainbows] #2728832
04/13/18 02:48 PM
04/13/18 02:48 PM
Joined: Apr 2007
Posts: 16,394
Boynton Beach, FL
Morodiene Offline OP
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Morodiene  Offline OP
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Joined: Apr 2007
Posts: 16,394
Boynton Beach, FL
Originally Posted by chasingrainbows
Quote
I'm very lenient about make-ups with families who are cooperative. I give extra time to families I like, continuing some lessons when the next student is not there, or when someone shows up early and no student is there. Making up is no problem for me if I already have time blocked, and things are open. I think this is why I don't see to get lied to. Example: during spring break one mother did not call. Turns out she had the wrong number in her cell phone. But she was fine with a make-up, the kid was prepared, and I had the time. Over a long period I always have extra time. I only schedule make-ups in between other lessons.
Quote


Gary D., I do the same. I will make exceptions for families who are cooperative. Whenever a student cancels, I immediately text parents who need make up lessons. However, I have had families who claim student illness when they are not. Since I don't want to lose the students' trust, I don't directly deal with the parent, but in the future, they will not get makeups as easily, if at all.

I think that for most, policies exist because of the people who try to take advantage. Setting good boundaries, however, is always a good policy, especially with new parents who may be the kind who try and get everything for nothing (there are a lot of those around here). Those people that have been with you for a while, you have developed a mutual trust and can afford to be more lenient. But when there are problems from the beginning, that's always a huge red flag for me. That tells me I'm in for a hard time with this one.


private piano/voice teacher FT

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Re: Parents that exhaust my energy [Re: Candywoman] #2749878
07/06/18 10:12 PM
07/06/18 10:12 PM
Joined: May 2018
Posts: 257
Quebec city, QC
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Joined: May 2018
Posts: 257
Quebec city, QC
I must say, I came here hoping some crunchy stories (my sister is an elementary school teacher and I'm sometimes horrified by her stories about parents...). But I realize that being a music teacher seems mostly to be a challenge regarding payments more than anything else. This is really sad...

-

As for the problem regarding people don't understanding the monthly concept, maybe "offering" a semestrial or annual paiement, with combinaison to the option of a monthly paiement would make them understand better?

"The price for the year is X $. You can pay X $ at the beginning of the school year, or you can pay Y $ in september and Y $ in january, or you can pay Z $ every month."
Maybe it would be easier to understand that monthly paiement is only an evening out of the yearly cost?

In local music schools, I often see something like it. Subscription is based on semesters (fall and winter) and paiements can be made with one, two or three checks throughout the semester.

-

I personally pay my teacher at the end of every lesson, but this discussion opened my eyes on why this is not viable in most of the cases!


My piano journey from day 1
Started piano on February 2016.
Pieces I'm working on :
- Rameau, Les Sauvages
- Beethoven, sonata op. 49, no. 1, 1st mov
- Chopin, nocturne op. posth. in C# minor
- Debussy, Golliwog's cakewalk
Re: Parents that exhaust my energy [Re: chasingrainbows] #2749949
07/07/18 07:41 AM
07/07/18 07:41 AM
Joined: Apr 2010
Posts: 106
NM
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Originally Posted by chasingrainbows
However, I have had families who claim student illness when they are not. Since I don't want to lose the students' trust, I don't directly deal with the parent, but in the future, they will not get makeups as easily, if at all.


LOL -- About 15 years ago, I had a mom who would have a blowout or car breakdown every lesson day. Come to find out, she preferred my make up day to my actual teaching days. I started limiting make-ups after that and miraculously it fixed her car.


Private Piano Instructor M.M.
Re: Parents that exhaust my energy [Re: Morodiene] #2758873
08/16/18 09:41 AM
08/16/18 09:41 AM
Joined: Jul 2012
Posts: 246
USA
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Posts: 246
USA
I teach at my home studio, (word-of mouth only) and at a private Christian school that does all the paperwork and semester billing for me, including printing programs for free in color, unlimited access to the copy room, free recital hall, and free coffee! They take a small cut (20%) and it is worth it for me.

However, the one downfall is that I get NO choice in the students, unless they are repeat customers.

The coordinator (I have known for over a decade) has told me, "one violin parent DEMANDS 3pm on Thursday or they will drop lessons." (They were dropped. Another student happily filled the spot)

Another wanted a lesson right after Tuesday's science club, because her two children have two activities each, and they live so far away! (20 minutes) that they cannot do the turn-around. Kids are grade school. Many families with longer commutes/older students/more children, practically camp out at the school, doing homework, visiting the library or playground, snack/rest time, etc...20 minutes is NOT a hardship!

I have some parents that I never see until recital. I had one boy who missed recital, even after I had sent mom a preview of the program, reminder emails and notes, "oh, we had a soccer practice that morning." Not a game or a match- practice. Oh, yeah, the boy rarely came with books, and never practiced. urg.

Or a family with one child very enthusiastic about piano, so the parents make the other sibling take lessons back-to-back, to keep the schedule easy for them. One hour, one recital, one teacher, easy! But, the other sibling does NOT want lessons. Why torture the kid? They are going to make comparisons. It will not end well.

But, the majority of my students at this school DO have good parents, many who observe lessons, actually read and even sometimes write questions or comments IN the Assignment Notebook, and help their children make time for practice.

And, as frustrating as the no practice, no books, no communication families can be, I take solace in the fact that I am a well paid musical babysitter. I cannot make them (child or parent) care more than I do. I can entertain myself pretty well, and have a variety of ways to present The Same Lesson Over And Over And Over And Over...

(I taught preschool, and still volunteer at church with that age, for over two decades, so I am pretty patient.)


Learning as I teach.
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