May 25, 2024

If you don’t subscribe to the Flute List, then you should. They had some interesting posts about lesson policies going on. Here are a couple to ponder…..

8 thoughts on “Studio Lesson Policies

  1. Subject: Studio Policies
    Thu, 30 Aug 2001 03:41:05 +0000
    Jennifer Kuk

    Thank you for all your posts about Policies! Here are a few of mine.

    They are required to buy a 3-ring binder notebook (which I amke cute little covers for) in which I place two things : a policies list and information about the upcoming
    flute club year (they cant lose a notebook as easily as just a hand-out). During the year I will copy arts articels from the paper and other magazines to fill their

    I also buy subscriptions to the Flute Explorer – a perk of being in my studio.

    I also have a monthly newsletter to encourage a little competition. I include funny quotes and then let everyone know how everyone is doing like who won which
    comeptition, solo/ensemble results etc and for the little ones “so-and-so moved up one chair”. They love seeing their name. I also include dates for their concerts at each
    school just in case they want to see other concerts! but I also include birthdays or if they are a part of a soccer team and they won first place…..etc etc

    The lesson are a flat rate $80/mo. 1/2 $144/mo. hour
    I sell the point that the “5th” lesson, on those months that have five, is a freebie.

    I say “welcome back” and dive right in……

    “Pay-Days” are listed by month/day (mondays, tuesdays, etc). and they are told to mark them on their calendar (thus eliminating any confusion and unnecessary phone
    calls). There is a $2 per day late fee for missed payment. If they are not going to be there on the scheduled “pay-Day” they are to turn in payment on the day of
    cancellation (the place that I rent Studio from has agreed to mark the day payment was brought in) but since I teach 6 days a week, I am always there to collect.

    I have a “days off” section so everyone is clear about when NOT to come. they see the policies list twice a year, one for FALL and one for SPRING. Summer is a
    struggle but I still collect once a month.

    They pay the last lesson of each month for the next month. If they start midmonth – they must pay the remaining of the month and the next months tuition. .

    No make-ups here unless 24 hours notice is given and even then only upon availablility. If they are a no-show for 2 lessons in a row w/ no contact w/ me – they are
    dropped and their spot is filled with a student on my waiting list.

    As far as parents are concerned:. I ALWAYS make it a point to talk with the parents at the beginning of the year. I explain that not practicing is a waste of their money
    and a waste of my time. Sounds harsh but I havent had a problem yet. Dont get me wrong, I always adress the problem first and allow it to be fixed. If it is not, then I
    drop them.

    In my policies I also have a Lesson Etiquette section and a Practice Etiquette section. Not too detailed as each student varies. things such as “dont watch the clock”. or
    “answer the phone”. and “Bring a smile” and “your notebook”….etc etc

    I also include a section to “outgoing seniors”. General information on music majors. most think there is only performance…….and it is always interesting when they find
    out they can do something like Music Therapy. If scheduling permits I assign a beginning level student for my seniors to work with for the year (supervised by me) and
    must prepare the student for a recital.

    Most of my students but a few have been with me for three years and plan to attend college for music. Which I also state that as soon as they have decided to attend
    college for music they must begin hour lessons – if they already havent. They do sign a form stating that the policies have been read and they have agreed to them.
    Parent and student. This is very important. yes we love teaching but it is a business and having rent paid on time is always a comforting thing. :):)


  2. Subject:
    Flute Studio Policies
    Tue, 28 Aug 2001 23:15:01 -0700
    Cindy Anne Broz

    Dear List:
    I had so many people ask for copies that I am forwarding this to the list.
    This is the most recent copy of my policies. Following the policies is my
    Contract/Disclosure which I have students and parents sign (though it stays
    in the students folder, it does allow me to hold the student and parent
    accountable for the information – which is why I do it in the first place-).

    The Flute Studio of Cindy Anne Broz
    Scheduling/Changing Lessons/How to Reach Me

    If you need to schedule or change a lesson, please call me at home
    909-303-0750 or at the studio at 909-506-2470 You may leave a message at my
    home or on my answering machine. You If you are unable to reach me at home
    or at the studio and need to get in touch with me, you may leave me a voice
    mail at 909-501-1636, and I will call you back as soon as possible. IF YOU
    lessons. Rescheduling of lessons shall be done on a first come-first serve
    basis, and entirely dependent on time-slot availability. If you are unable
    to attend your lesson, you will forfeit that weeks lesson payment.

    Lesson Switch Policy
    If you have an unexpected or short term conflict with a particular time and
    wish to change lesson times for that week. You may call another person on
    the schedule to switch times with them.

    The following procedure must be followed to ensure the integrity of my
    teaching schedule:

    • You must call the other party to get permission to “switch”
    • The other party must be willing to attend during your scheduled lesson time
      for that week
    • You must then call my voice mail at 501-1636 and leave a message as to the
    • If you are desiring a permanent “switch” , you must notify me, as must the
      other party by voice mail
    • I will give all students an updated copy of the schedule with your “Studio
      News” letter each month
    • As the schedule changes frequently, a current schedule will be hanging on
      the studio bulletin board
    • You may not schedule in an open slot without first getting permission from

    Payment Policy





    S.M.A.R.T. Method Policy
    S.M.A.R.T. Method is not optional. It is mandatory on all pieces for all
    Students. I will not hear any pieces in which it has not been done. You
    are responsible for completing this at the beginning of your practice week
    so that your daily practice is effective.

    You must show me your pieces at the beginning of your lesson. If the
    S.M.A.R.T. Method is not done, you will need to use your lesson time to
    complete it. You will also forfeit your lesson treat.

    Recital Policy
    Student recitals are given twice yearly. Participation is highly
    recommended, but not mandatory. There shall be a recital fee of
    $15.00/family per recital to help provide for the cost of the recital hall
    rental and the accompanist fee. For Recital events that involve a day long
    party/recital, the fee will be $20.00. There is no charge to attend
    student recitals. Recitals should not run longer than one hour. The
    audience should be prepared to remain seated during this entire time. There
    may be refreshments served afterward. All students who wish to participate
    in the recital shall be given the opportunity to do so.
    The following requirements must be met by the student in order to

    • The student must have the selected recital piece/s satisfactorily prepared 1
      month prior to the recital date
    • The student must attend all scheduled accompaniment practice sessions
    • The student must attend all scheduled lessons for the month preceding the
      recital unless other arrangements have been made in advance
    • All students shall conduct themselves according to the following code:
    • Shall arrive 1 hour prior to recital time to allow for tuning and
      preparation (it is recommended that students be dropped off by parents, as
      this time is not for scheduled performance. Parents should return at the
      scheduled performance time)

    Dress shall be standard performance dress: Dresses are highly recommended
    for girls; nice pants with a shirt and tie for boys. (If you have any doubt
    about how to dress, dress as you would for a wedding)

    Students are not to leave the recital hall once the recital has begun. If a
    student must use the bathroom, he/she should wait and leave between
    soloists, and return the same way. Students should not leave the recital
    hall to talk to family members, friends, or each other until the recital
    is completed. Talking during performance is not permitted. Giggling, rolling of eyes,
    slumping in chairs, etc. is not proper conduct and will not be tolerated

    Students who are able to perform their recital piece without error 1 month
    before the recital shall be given the opportunity to select and play a duet
    or a special number, such as a pop or show piece
    Young Children at Recitals
    If you have a small child which you plan to bring with you to the recital,
    please be aware that this child might be disruptive to the audience as well
    as to the performers. As it is difficult for small children to sit quietly
    for a very long time, yet it is desirable for children to hear their
    sibling/s perform, it is recommended that families with small children
    enter just before and leave after the respective performance; and then
    return at the completion of the program for refreshments. However, the
    performing student should remain for the entire program. If you do have a
    child who finds it difficult to sit still, please do not attempt to bring
    the child in and out of the recital hall more than once. This does cause a
    great deal of distraction not only to the performers, but to the audience
    in general.

    Your understanding and observance of these policies will enable us to have
    relaxed and enjoyable recitals.

    Your Responsibilities as My Student
    You are responsible to attend your lessons weekly. Your lessons are paid
    for in advance and a lesson missed for any reason other than a prearranged
    vacation (2 lesson days/year) will result in the forfeit of that weeks
    payment. Remember, your payment is for your reserved time-slot, whether or
    not you attend (I have paid a studio rental fee for your time slot in
    advance, and I do not receive a credit for periods of time when students
    miss lessons).

    You are responsible for being prepared for your lessons. You need to bring
    your music books, your instrument, your lesson folder, and any other
    materials that we are working on to each lesson. You also need to be ready
    to play the material assigned to you the week before.

    You are responsible for practicing regularly: beginning student-30 min/day;
    intermediate student-30-45 min/day; advanced student-at least 1 hour/day.
    You need to keep a practice record. Practice records are located at the top
    of each weeks assignment. You will receive practice points for days in
    which you practice your minimum requirements. These points can be turned in
    for “Musical Money” or “Studio Bucks” to be used at the Studio Store.

    You are responsible for preparing for and performing at student recitals
    which are held twice yearly. Playing at any other concerts, competitions,
    or performances, including school functions is entirely up to you. If you
    would like to work on a piece you are playing elsewhere, please bring it to
    your lesson and we will work on it as time permits.

    You are responsible for maintaining your instrument so that it is in correct
    working order. If a key breaks or something seems wrong, you need to take
    it in for repair and secure a “loaner” during the time that your instrument
    in under repair. A broken instrument does not excuse a student from
    practice or from attending his/her lesson.

    Cindy Anne Broz, Flutist
    Temecula, California US

  3. Subject:
    Re: Contracts for Studios? (long)
    Thu, 30 Aug 2001 12:19:25 EDT
    Cindy Bruce

    In response to Morgan, I will go into a little more detail of my policies
    that I actually adopted from different people on this list. As stated by one
    lister, generally, you adopt rules because of problems you’ve had in the past
    in those areas.

    POLICY SHEET: As I mentioned before in condensed version, I have my policies
    typed up and the last page is the sheet that needs to be signed by both the
    student and parent, with a short review of what their agreeing to. That sheet
    is returned to me the following week and is good for as long as the student
    is taking lessons with me. I do not pass out a new sheet to be signed each
    year or so because I feel they would be signing it just to sign it and not
    going over what they are actually signing. I merely keep reminding them
    periodically about the agreement they signed and if there is any question
    about something or disagreement, I merely remind them to look at the policy
    sheets. Besides, this saves me more paper work!

    WEATHER: I live in Florida so we do have the occasional tropical storm and
    hurricane barreling down on us. I make it clear in my policy that I do
    makeups only If I’m notified 24 hours in advance or if it’s an emergency
    which includes illness, car breaking down, and extreme weather conditions.
    Obviously, I will give a makeup lesson If a hurricane has arrived or we are
    having a tropical storm but there has to be extreme weather conditions. (In
    the past, they have canceled school because the news would state that it will
    hit in the early morning hours or such but it would actually end up being a
    bright sunny day or a light shower). There are also times where we have
    torrential downpours (having nothing to do with a hurricane or tropical
    storm) that lasts for hours and we have bad flooding in certain areas. If
    this is the case, I can only trust the parent calling, that that is the case
    and they are unable to get here. (We have been having extreme droughts the
    last few years, so I haven’t had to worry about this in a very long time).

    MAKEUPS: I do give makeups for illness or the emergencies but I don’t limit
    them. Students do get ill at the last minute or will go to school that day,
    feel fine at first, but are sick by the afternoon. It happens, I remember it
    happening to me (I was always getting the flu) and so I don’t punish for
    illness. It seems to be more of an inconvenience these days for kids to
    reschedule a missed lesson because of their full schedule, so I really don’t
    get many last minute cancellations anyway. I have had an occasional call that
    the car’s battery is dead or engine won’t start or they had a flat tire. I
    makeup these because they happen. I’ve been in those situations and it’s a
    stressful feeling to begin with so I don’t punish for that. Again, I rarely
    get these calls and when I do, you just trust they’re telling you the truth
    and go with it. Like I said, they would rather not have to reschedule anyway,
    because of their busy schedules. If the makeup lesson isn’t done within a
    month, it’s dropped. No refunds, no credits. If a student forgets to come or
    just doesn’t show up, they know that lesson cannot receive a makeup.

    SWAPPING: I adopted this from a fellow lister..sorry can’t remember who, but
    it’s pure genius. I hand out updated lists of all the students and their
    phone numbers with instructions on what to do if you know ahead of time you
    are going to have a conflict with next week’s lesson. They are to call from
    the list and swap lessons with someone, then the person doing the swapping
    must call me and inform me of the swap. This works beautifully. Before I did
    this, I was juggling lessons every week to accommodate the student’s
    conflicts and it was just too much. Since I’ve been doing this, even the
    students don’t swap much…they work out their other schedules so they don’t
    have to switch. Life is so much easier with this!

    PAYMENT: Payment is once a month, first week of the month, minus any holidays
    that fall on their day. The students have to bring a notebook to their
    lessons each week that I use to write in their assignments, tips, etc. On the
    last lesson for the month, I will write at the top of the page, how much is
    due next week for next month’s lessons. I highlight this in yellow. Parents
    don’t notice if a month has 3, 4 or 5 weeks in it and tend to forget about
    holidays. So I help them out with this. I also write the time of their next
    lesson if it is ever changed and I highlight that too. (In the case of that
    parent that was calling all the time to ask what time the lesson was, all
    they would need to do is check their child’s notebook.) When holidays come
    up, I write down in their notebook when their next lesson will be if this is
    the last time I see them before that holiday.

    DISCONTINUING LESSONS: When I get a new student, the first part of the lesson
    is going over the makeup rules and swap rules. Sometimes the parent is there,
    sometimes not. At any rate, I request at that time that if they ever decide
    that they don’t want to continue lessons anymore, to give me the courtesy of
    letting me know in advance so that I know I will have that time slot open. I
    add that there will be no questions asked and I will not pressure them into
    changing their minds. Since I’ve added that last statement, I never get
    students disappearing without a word. There was a time that I would because I
    think they just didn’t want to explain their reasoning and add to the stress
    of them having to call me. Now they will, and they know I appreciate the
    call. Since they pay a month in advance, generally they will finish out the
    month, or they will let me know at the last lesson of that month that they’re
    not coming back.

    SUMMER: I don’t lose many student over the summer. Thank goodness! But they
    know to give me their vacation dates and they do not have to make up those
    dates and they do not have to pay for those they will miss. If I am going to
    be gone, they don’t have to make up those either and they don’t have to pay
    for those. Yes, summer is sporadic, but I welcome the break myself. I need my
    batteries recharged, too! My husband and I just watch our pennies more clo
    sely during those times. If a student does decide to quit for the summer,
    they know they may not be able to get their first choice of a lesson time and
    day for the fall. Because of this, I rarely get a student that will quit the
    whole summer. Besides, I keep them busy with upcoming Allstate audition
    materials and our Florida Flute Fair auditions, both of which the auditions
    happen soon after school starts in the fall so we have lots of work to do to
    keep them busy in the summertime.

    Well, I think I’ve covered most of it. Sorry this was long but I hope it
    helped somebody out there.

    Cindy Bruce

  4. Subject:
    Student practice/prep
    Thu, 30 Aug 2001 09:57:04 -0500
    Lesa Hall
    Prodigy Internet

    Dear Listers:

    If a student does not practice I think he might not really want to become a better player because it is not important enough to him or her.

    I’ve been reading with interest the postings re: this subject as I’m planning to teach privately once my technique is solid.

    When I started my piano lesson at age nine, I practiced daily and stayed consistent with the same practice time, without any having to be told or reminded because I’ve always enjoyed music , so the prep for weekly lessons was always there. Doing this because I wanted to rather than feeling that I had to made all the difference in the world. The only time I didn’t attend a lesson was if I was in bed with the flu, and would be given a make-up lesson. My family was supportive of me and despite the fact that my mother didn’t drive, I got transportation to my lessons. Had I not been discouraged by another family member from playing the flute, the above habits would still have applied.

    Until earlier this year, I never had to sign a contract or pay up front. While I had the money to do that, I would have been more comfortable financially with paying weekly. Also, viral infections with fevers don’t always give 24 hour or more notices as to their arrival, so in that case 24 hour notice to cancel would be difficult here.

    When I start teaching, I would hope that my students come to me for lessons because they honestly want to and are motivated to do so, and that their parent(s) are being supportive of their child (not pushy or insistent). I have seen too many people who made choices based on what their parents did rather than based on their own individual abilities, and those people are unhappy and stressed. If I have a student or two who is not showing for lessons or is coming unprepared, I would consult with the student and parents, and if I got a “too busy” response even after “time management” suggestions, figure that the student’s more interested in his or her other activities and recommend discontinuing the lessons.

    Lesa Hall

  5. Subject:
    Contract (F/U to Studio Policies)
    Tue, 28 Aug 2001 23:21:29 -0700
    Cindy Anne Broz

    Dear List:

    My studio contract would not fit in the previous post, so here it is:

    Private Lesson Contract/Studio Policy Disclosure
    The Flute Studio of Cindy Anne Broz

    Private lessons are provided on a month by month basis, and must be paid
    for in advance. Your payment reserves your time slot for the month.
    Private Lessons are scheduled weekly. Private lessons are not offered
    bimonthly. Coaching Sessions are offered bimonthly per availability.

    All instruction shall be provided by Cindy Anne Broz.

    Instruction Fees
    Private Lessons-30 minutes
    months with 4 weeks: $70.00
    months with 5 weeks: $87.50
    Private Lessons-45 minutes
    months with 4 weeks: $100.00
    months with 5 weeks: $125.00
    Private Lessons-60 minutes
    months with 4 weeks: $120.00
    months with 5 weeks: $150.00
    Private Coaching (offered bimonthly per availability)
    90 minute session: $60.00
    120 minute session: $80.00

    Late Payments: Payments which are received after the first lesson of the
    month will be subject to a late fee of $5.00 if paid on or before the second
    scheduled lesson of the month and $10.00 if paid after the second scheduled
    lesson of the month. If payment is not received prior to the third
    scheduled lesson of the month, the lesson time slot shall be forfeited.
    You will still be responsible for providing payment for the third scheduled

    Make-up lessons are not provided.

    Payment for lessons is not credited or refunded.
    If you are unable to make your scheduled lesson, you will forfeit the
    payment for that lesson. Remember that you are responsible for attending
    your lesson at the scheduled time. Your payment is for your time segment
    whether you attend your lesson or not.

    If you need to make a temporary change in your lesson time, please attempt
    to “switch” per the policy before calling me. Permanent time changes will
    be made on a first come first served basis. My teaching schedule is posted
    on my studio door and is updated weekly. Time slot openings are clearly

    I will take the last two weeks of December off. I allow each student an
    additional 2 weeks of scheduled vacation (2 lessons)/year. You are not
    responsible for payment for lessons during these vacation times. If you
    wish to take additional vacation time, I will be unable to maintain your
    time-slot reservation unless you pay for the lessons which you miss during
    your vacation.

    If I miss your lesson for any reason, I will provide a make-up lesson or
    credit the lesson payment toward the next month’s fee, whichever you

    I am a committed teacher and I expect my students to demonstrate commitment
    through regular practice, lesson attendance, and appropriate conduct both
    at my studio and at all studio functions, including recitals,
    competitions, festivals, masterclasses, flute camp, etc.

    You are free to discontinue lessons if you feel that I do not meet your
    needs or expectations. Please provide me with 2 weeks notice whenever

    Should I feel that you are not committed to private study, or that I am
    unable to meet your needs or expectations, I reserve the right to
    discontinue our professional relationship. I will make every attempt to
    provide you with appropriate guidance and referral if you so desire.

    Cindy Anne Broz, Flutist
    Temecula, California US

  6. Subject:
    My SMART Method
    Wed, 29 Aug 2001 19:04:17 -0700
    Cindy Anne Broz

    Dear List:

    This is my S.M.A.R.T. Method…a method for practicing smarter not harder.
    I developed it as a means of assisting students to incorporate a logical
    sequential approach to even the most difficult pieces. They are required to
    use it in preparing all their assigned music. How do I know it has been
    done?…the music will be marked (neatly in pencil) with brackets, key sig
    notes, etc.

    It is mandatory for all my students to use S.M.A.R.T. I will not hear music
    which has not been prepared using this method.

    Tie Together

    Survey the piece by playing it through from beginning to end 1-2 times. Be
    sure to take note of the difficult sections.

    Mark (in pencil) the sections of the piece that are most difficult for you
    to play. Use brackets or parenthesis. If you miss a certain note
    consistently, mark this note with a circle. Mark in key signature or
    accidentals if you miss them more than once. This is especially important
    in keys that have more than 3 sharps or flats. If the piece has a double
    sharp or double flat, circle this note along with the preceding and
    following notes.

    Focus practice Attention on the difficult/marked sections. Practice circled
    notes by playing the note in context with the several preceding and several
    following notes. Practice double sharps and double flats by playing the
    circled notes first, then playing them in context with the preceding and
    following measures. Practice bracketed sections slowly, and then gradually
    increase to the appropriate or designated tempo

    Replay the entire piece or study with a special focus on playing into and
    out of the difficult passages. Polish easily executed sections

    Tie Together all elements of the piece. Practice dynamics, tonal
    elements, and tempi. Polish entire piece.

    Cindy Anne Broz, Flutist
    Temecula, California US

  7. Subject:
    Contracts for Studios?
    Wed, 29 Aug 2001 17:15:08 EDT
    Morgan Williams


    I need to update my contract, but I’m always afraid that it sounds more negative than business like.


    I have a problem with having students travel during tornado warnings and snow storms. It doesn’t happen real often, but we’ve had them. I don’t want to be responsible for having parents driving around in those conditions.

    If you have a policy about absences or no make-ups, OK, But then the summer
    schedule could be less than what it is now for me. I loose about 50-60% of income during the summer as it is… Teaching, and playing, are my only
    source of income.

    I do not prorate the next months lessons. That is if you have a make-up due, it will be made up. They will get what they paid for. I do not discount the next months lessons, nor do I give refunds. Yet, even with a policy I have
    parents that try real hard to get me to brake the rules…

    If you do break the rules, they will push you hard to do it again. They
    rarely say, “Thank you”. And they usually won’t bend for you when you need a favor. Isn’t it funny how that works out…

    As for discontinuing lessons altogether, I ask for a week’s notice for the up coming month for ample notice. Most are good about it, but every once in a while I will have someone call me 2 hours before the lesson letting me know the bad news. Many times I’m relieved, because these students forget to bring their music more than half the time, and they never practice. I try to motivate them and make it more interesting, but success there is extremely limited.

    I ask for the week’s notice to budget for the next month. If they don’t let me know within that time, I insist that they pay for the next month. Most are good at letting me know, but I have had a few parents that say, “I didn’t sign anything. You can’t make me pay.” Only twice have I collected money for this circumstance. They are all hopping mad about it, but it was in my
    contract. We had discussed it before… I have a friend who is a lawyer. I asked him about it and because services were not actually rendered, I have no real legal recourse for that, even with a parents signature on a contract.

    I try not to get in the way between student and parent. I don’t like to provide fodder for an argument between them. Many parents are quick to quit lessons if their child is not practicing–it’s way too expensive; and many
    students will have a problem with me for getting them in trouble for not practicing. I encourage my students, and if that doesn’t work the lecture,
    “Don’t expect anything out of flute if you don’t practice…”. Does anyone have any other suggestions? Please!

    If you have a no make-up policy (I’m thinking about one) how do you get
    students to call you if they aren’t coming? I think that it’s good general
    curtesy to call, but many don’t. Yes, I’m paid to be there, but I could give
    a make-up lesson then, or somehow use my time better… What can you say or

    [A colleague mentioned to me about a small increase in fees every year to
    meet the cost of living. This year, I’m considering a no make-up policy in
    lieu of a price increase.]

    I also teach clarinet and saxophone. I have thought about putting a policy
    about immediate cancellation of that day’s lesson if a decent reed is not
    brought to a lesson. I have always said “You must have 5 decent reeds on you
    at all times”. I warn students when they are down to their last reed. In a
    two week period they can’t manage to either tell their parents, make a trip
    to the music store, or order from somewhere like the “Woodwind”. If you
    don’t have one decent reed when you come to your lesson, then your lesson is
    to remember to have decent reeds and your lesson time for that day is

    Back to communication problems. I can print up notices to when I will be out
    of town. But kids forget to give them to their parents. Sometimes it’s hard
    to talk to parents because they sit in their cars. If you talk during the
    lesson time, even if it’s business they think that your wasting the valuable
    time they are paying for. Yet, they will talk and talk to you when you have
    another student waiting… How do you stop that? And what about a parent
    that calls you up 3-4 times a week because she forgets what the lesson time
    is. I write it down for her, and she looses that. I get paid very little
    for how much time I spend calling her back all the time….

    After this thread goes around, I will sit down and develop a contract of my


    Morgan Williams

  8. Subject:
    reply to Morgan: Contracts for Studios? – long
    Thu, 30 Aug 2001 00:10:16 -0500
    Chad and Hilary Bromeisl

    Hi Morgan,
    you brought up some very good concerns and all-too-familiar situations that
    we all have to figure out how to best handle. I am constantly trying to
    think up of THE ULTIMATE LESSON POLICY which covers everything without it
    sounding like a lawyer’s reference book, and love it when this thread comes
    up on the list. I’m far from the ULTIMATE, but I’ll jot down my thoughts or
    experiences on some of your points.

    I have a problem with having students travel during tornado warnings and
    snow storms….em. I don’t want to be responsible for having parents driving
    around in those conditions.

    When winter comes I pass out the “Guidelines for Winter Weather Cancellations” sheet which goes like this…

    “Since winter has now arrived, I would like to make sure there is no confusion when it comes to lesson cancellations due to bad weather. Please
    know that my teaching schedule is totally separate from the school system.
    I have students in many school districts that all have a different idea of
    when to cancel or have an early release during bad weather. Please do not
    assume lessons are cancelled if school is cancelled or let out early.”

    “This is the procedure I will be following for lesson cancellations due to
    bad weather:”

    “If I decide to cancel lessons I will immediately change my voice mail
    greeting with this decision, and then try to reach every student/parent
    scheduled for a lesson that day. If I am unable to get a hold of you or
    leave a message, I will have to rely on you calling my voice mail to get the

    “An attempt to make up this lesson sometime during the year will be made.
    If the lesson is not made up by the end of the year you will receive a

    “If you decide to cancel because of the weather that day, please call my
    voice mail to let me know you won’t be there. Because we all have different
    ideas of what bad weather is, I would like to let the number of
    cancellations determine whether or not to hold make-up lessons. Make-up
    lessons will be available only when three or more students cancel due to the
    weather. An exception to this number will be made if the weather turns
    nasty towards the end of my teaching day. I must still receive a voice mail
    notice before your lesson time to be eligible for a make-up lesson.”

    I thought hard about this last paragraph because I have had people cancel
    “due to the weather” when I had just drove past their house on my way to the
    studio with no problems at all. It prevents parents from being too
    care-free about canceling the lesson when it snows.

    If you have a policy about absences or no make-ups, OK, But then the
    summer schedule could be less than what it is now for me. I loose about 50-60%
    of income during the summer as it is… Teaching, and playing, are my only source of income.

    I allow two lessons to be made up due to illness per school year which
    require advanced notification. I also allow make up lessons for
    flute-related performances, but they must first unsuccessfully attempt to
    exchange lessons. No other reasons are included for make-up lessons. For
    the summer I have adopted a “no places reserved” policy. If they leave,
    their spot will be filled and odds are they will not be able to get back in
    right away in the Fall, though they would be placed on the top of the
    waiting list. They can pay a reservation fee (equal to the cost of having
    lessons all summer long) to reserve their spot if they’d like, and I was
    suprised to have one parent do this this summer since it is a lot of money
    for no lessons. Just make it clear that this is what you do for a living,
    not as a hobby.

    (regarding make-up lessons)Yet, even with a policy I have parents that try real hard to get me to brake the rules…

    OH I HEAR YOU THERE!! I have gotten much better at holding my ground. I do
    feel bad when someone pays for a lesson they did not have, but they’d have
    to do the same thing if they missed a class at the Y or something. I try to
    give examples like this when I feel someone challenge my policy. Another
    thing I’ve found helpful to do is remind them that you have many other
    students who are/have been in the same situation and that it would be
    impossible to make up all those lessons (or whatever else they’re trying to
    get away with). Sometimes if you can get them to see the big picture of
    what it takes to run a teaching studio they can start to understand why you
    simply can’t accomodate their request.

    I have a friend who is a lawyer. I
    > asked him about it and because services were not actually rendered, I have
    no real legal recourse for that, even with a parents signature on a contract.

    Hmmm, could you explain what your contract states? I am now concerned with
    my own contract… why is it not treated as a legal contract?

    I try not to get in the way between student and parent. Many parents are
    quick to quit lessons if their child is not practicing–it’s way too expensive; and many students will have a problem with me for getting them in trouble for not practicing. I encourage my students, and if that doesn’t work the
    lecture, “Don’t expect anything out of flute if you don’t practice…”. Does
    anyone have any other suggestions? Please!

    When I have to give THE TALK, I start off by asking them the reasons they
    are taking private lessons in a non-attacking way so they feel comfortable
    being honest. If they say “I don’t know” then we try to find a reason to
    continue lessons together. Many times they will say something that their
    lack of practice/poor attitude does not support, which gives me the fuel to
    take them deeper into THE TALK. If it just isn’t getting anywhere I say
    that private lessons might not be right for them and remind them that I have
    a waiting list of people who are eager to get into my studio. I also bring
    up the fact that their parents are paying good money for their lessons and I
    don’t feel right taking their money if they aren’t getting the full benefits
    private lessons have to offer. Most of the time the students either start
    practicing more or they realize that our discussion made a lot of sense and
    decide to stop lessons on their own. I rarely have to call home about a
    student’s lack of practice, but I wouldn’t hesitate to do so – I think the
    paying parent deserves to know their money is not being put to good use.
    Now, this is all easier to do if you have a waiting list to fill the hole

    Back to communication problems. I can print up notices to when I will be
    out of town. But kids forget to give them to their parents. Sometimes it’s
    hard to talk to parents because they sit in their cars.

    Something I do that works wonderfully is plan and hand out my entire school
    year teaching schedule in advance – I list every date under each day of the
    week and parenthesize the dates there are no lessons. One of these years
    I’m going to stick a self-adhesive magnet to the back of every one so they
    are refrigerator-ready. I also hang a copy outside my door as a constant
    reminder, and mark any vacation days clearly on the calendar which also
    hangs outside my door. I figure I’m covered – if they come to their lesson
    when they aren’t supposed to it isn’t because I didn’t make that information
    available to them. If you can budget for postage then the safest way would
    be to mail your notices, but a less expensive way would be to tape the
    notice on the front of their lesson book 🙂

    If you talk during the lesson time, even if it’s business they think that your wasting the
    valuable time they are paying for. Yet, they will talk and talk to you when you
    have another student waiting… How do you stop that?

    Politely ask them to give you a call because you must start your next student. If they want to use their lesson time that’s fine, but they can’t
    use another student’s time to chat. When this happens to me I make a mental
    note to end their next lesson a few minutes early in hopes that the next
    student who lost time last week could get in early the next week.

    Well, this sure got long 🙂 I guess I’m making up for all the time I
    haven’t had time to do anything but lurk these past months!

    Hilary Bromeisl

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