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#928292 - 05/21/08 10:48 PM Summer Teaching Ideas
AZNpiano Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/07/07
Posts: 6968
Loc: Orange County, CA
Hey, teachers (those of you who teach year-round):

What do you do during summer months? There are some ideas being tossed around, and I'd like to see you views on them:

1) Charge students who take long vacations a $10 "holding fee" per week missed. The fee guarantees them their lesson spot come September.

2) Have students take double lessons (two lessons per week, or 2-hour lessons) in July and then give them August off.

3) Do performance classes for groups of students with similar abilities.

4) Do music theory workshops.

Any more ideas to share?
Private Piano Teacher and MTAC Member

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#928293 - 05/21/08 11:59 PM Re: Summer Teaching Ideas
John v.d.Brook Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7639
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
Generally, I've done 2 & 3. Our schools finish up late June. Don't yours go year round, with students staggered through the year? Anyway, I encourage them to get in 6 weeks, preferable 2 lessons a week, while they're home.
"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

#928294 - 05/22/08 04:26 PM Re: Summer Teaching Ideas
Stanny Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/08/06
Posts: 1461
I haven't yet implemented a holding fee, but I may try that next year. That's a great idea. Right now, I state that summer students get first priority for lesson times in the fall.

Independent Music Teacher
Certified Piano Teacher, American College of Musicians

#928295 - 05/23/08 11:10 AM Re: Summer Teaching Ideas
Knabe26 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/27/06
Posts: 222
Loc: Northern California
I teach year-round. Through the year, students can take up to four vacation weeks, with tuition prorated. They can take up to two weeks in any one month. That means that I can be assured of at least a half-month tuition for each student.

If students take time off during the summer, they can hold their slots by paying for 2 of 4 lessons in each month (up to two) that they will be absent (of course, they can come to those two lessons, which during the summer are easy to arrange around their vacations). If they choose to leave for a full month or more, without paying the prorated tuition, their slot will most likely be filled by another student, and they will be welcomed back into another (hopefully) available slot.

I do have a larger than usual number of students choosing to take June and July off this year. This is causing me to think about the fact that my tuition is based on making a living by teaching year-round. If too many students want to leave during the summer and return in the fall, I'll need to think about increasing tuition to cover the 2/12 gap in earnings!

Full-Time Private Piano Instructor

#928296 - 05/23/08 04:37 PM Re: Summer Teaching Ideas
dumdumdiddle Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/16/06
Posts: 1269
Loc: California
My private students are required to take 6 lessons in the summer for me to hold their Fall lesson slot. They pick the weeks, pay for the 6 lessons in advance, and there are no makeups for missed lessons (as I seem to get many requests for makeups due to last minute beach trips, parties, etc....).
Music School Owner
Early Childhood Music Teacher/Group Piano Teacher/Private Piano Teacher
Member of MTAC and Guild

#928297 - 05/23/08 04:54 PM Re: Summer Teaching Ideas
Morodiene Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 15126
Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
I do what dumdiddledumdeedum does and so far this year I've had almost all of my students sign up for lessons. Since I'm only asking for 6, it is reasonable to them. Of course, there are a couple who can only do 4 or 5 because I am out of the country for all of June, so I just pro-rate it for those lessons. But I simply stated in my policy that "I require that students take 6 lessons in the summer" and then go onto to explain the positive affect this has (and the negative affects for not doing so), and no one questioned it. Summer lesson have always been difficult for me.

Also, I plan to verify lessons every week, especially the first week with a reminder to pay the tuition. My mistake was I didn't ask for it before lessons finished, but tonight's the recital and I'm out of time. Ah well, if I can get everyone to pay on the first lesson, then I don't have to worry if they don't show for the rest ;\) .
private piano/voice teacher FT

#928298 - 05/23/08 06:02 PM Re: Summer Teaching Ideas
Akira Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/27/07
Posts: 1645
Loc: Los Angeles, CA
It always baffles me why piano lessons have any correlation or connection to a school year or season.

Annual vacations aside, I can't help but wonder why teachers don't simply teach year round? My lessons are. Would that solve the earnings gap and struggles to fill it?

#928299 - 05/23/08 08:18 PM Re: Summer Teaching Ideas
lalakeys Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/05/06
Posts: 286
Loc: Chicago 'burbs
I like to schedule a performance event (a coffeehouse or ice cream social) in late July or early August. That way, my students have a goal to work towards during the "off" season.

And I'm pretty flexible during the summer--although I teach year-round, I understand that families make travel plans for several weeks at a time. I know I can count on several students to take the whole summer off, but I also usually have some returning college students or "summer-only" students who make up the difference (along with the extra $ I get from playing weddings this time of year!).

I always explain to students taking the summer off that unless I hear from them by the third week of August I will fill their slot with another student. It is not my job to contact them and ask, "are you going to study piano (or voice) this year?" And I follow through--each year it seems like two or three families find out after Labor Day that their previous lesson time is no longer available. Another reason NOT to take the whole summer off!
Private piano & voice teacher for over 20 years; currently also working as a pipe organist for 3 area churches; sing in a Chicago-area acappella chamber choir

#928300 - 05/24/08 09:44 AM Re: Summer Teaching Ideas
Morodiene Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 15126
Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
Good questions. I teach year round, but it is more the expectation that many students and parents have that the summer is off. The trouble is that many take their vacations during this time. This is why I only require 6 lessons. Perhaps in the future I will require more, but I think it may be hard. The trouble is that kids are so over-booked during the school year, they need time to cool down and relax. Of course, I always urge my students not to get into too many activities to avoid this problem.
private piano/voice teacher FT

#928301 - 05/24/08 10:03 AM Re: Summer Teaching Ideas
Betty Patnude Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/11/07
Posts: 4896
Loc: Puyallup, Washington
I've always thought that piano lessons get better in the summer. I've been able to keep most of my students in summer study by giving lessons as usual in the summer, but my yearly tuition program has been paid by most of the students by the 10th month, so those who started lessons in August, Sept, Oct get 2 "free" months of lessons during the summer. They wish to use every one of them since they have been "paid for" in the annual tuition.

The other point I would make is that we usually accomplish a whole lot more in the summer than during the school year when there are so many demands being made on them. There is more time to practice and a choice of what time of day to be at the piano for most kids. They get to play more and not have to pack their practice in minimally.

I have always taught during summers because I feel that once a student becomes "rusty" and the piano "dusty" we are potentially losing him.

I take the week of July 4th off, and I take 2 weeks off at the end of summer (last week of August - 1st week of September, then Thanksgiving week is off too. December lessons are up to the 15th (or so) of the month followed by a holiday break until January 2 or the following Monday of the next week.

Many families take vacations of a week or two in the summer. So it's not like they aren't getting any breaks.

As far as special activities or materials, I like to add summer titles, the beach, sunsets, ocean, etc. Adding "Rain" titles in Washington State works too!


#928302 - 05/24/08 10:57 AM Re: Summer Teaching Ideas
cjp_piano Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/23/08
Posts: 202
Loc: Cincinnati OH
I simply require them to take at least 2 hours or lessons total for the summer (July and August only) in order to maintain enrollment. This way, if they are mostly gone during the summer, they can take just 2 one-hour lessons and that will cover it. This year, it looks like all of my students except one are going to take more than that required minimum.

They know that if they don't take in the summer, I will probably fill their place and they won't have a place in my schedule when September arrives.

If they are gone the WHOLE summer, they simply pay for the 2 hours to hold their place.

I like the idea of having some sort of recital or performance or something at the end of the summer to help motivate!
MTNA Nationally Certified Teacher of Music, Piano
Instructor of Music Theory, Accompanist
Member: MTNA, OhioMTA, SW District OhioMTA


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