February 16, 2011

Studio Policies: Communication

Can I just say, GO PIANO TEACHERS! So far I have received a couple of links to some great studio policies! I greatly enjoyed reading through them and thinking about the different aspects of my policies. I will share those links for you to read through them later in the week. If you want your policies to be included, send me the link or email them to me.

In examining my policies, and thinking about the importance of them, I started thinking about the importance of communicating with my students and their parents. There are many areas of teaching that need to be communicated, but for this post I’m speaking about the area of our policies and what we expect overall in lessons. I have never been the parent in this situation, but I have been the student, and I appreciate the time my teachers took to explain to me what they expected. Knowing exactly what they wanted me to bring to my lesson, how I was to approach a lesson, how long the lesson would last, etc, all helped me to be a little less nervous as I headed to a lesson. At least slightly less nervous. :)

One area that is always touchy is the area of finances and payments. Parents want to know what is expected, without paying more than necessary. Teachers have a rate they want to be payed, but are cautious about how they approach parents with that desire. This is one area where communication is at best, awkward, and at worst, left “un-communicated.” (I definitely think I just made up a word) Your policies can help with this communication breakdown. If what you expect is detailed in your policies, then there shouldn't be any questions or misunderstandings from anyone. Just be sure to cover missed payments!

Those are a few of the thoughts I've had about this area of communication and policies. I know we all realize the importance of this, but what are some of your thoughts?


  1. I have two options for parents to pay...hourly or monthly. I make the monthly option work out to about $10 less than the hourly because I have found that if all lessons are paid for at one time, no one "forgets" to pay the teacher:-) and there are fewer excuses to "not show up" for a lesson. I have been teaching for 10 years and have found that this approach keeps things less complicated and more comfortable for both teacher and parent. I still give the option for hourly pay because some people get paid week to week and it is easier for them, but 9 times out of 10, they are going to go for the monthly option so they don't have to remember every week and they can pay it like they pay all their other bills...same amount, same day each month = convenient! I also state in my policies that if payment is not made within one week of it being due that a certain dollar amount is tacked on per day as a late fee...haven't ever had to enforce that, but it's in my policy nevertheless. I've known of teachers being owed close to a $100 for lessons because of "forgetfulness" so I have chosen to cover myself on that and so far it's worked and there has never been an issue! I like it that issues:-) When doing monthly payments though you must have in place a procedure on how to work out missed lessons in case they do happen. I just issue a certain $ amount as credit to the next month's lesson fee and that has worked great! Keeps things from getting too confusing and keeps parents from thinking you're trying to get money for nothing:-) Just some thoughts!

  2. How ironic is it that you're posting about communication when I made that one of my New Years' resolutions for my studio!? I am the non-confrontational type, so enforcement is not one of my strong points! That's why I try super hard to avoid potential misunderstanding by being super clear from the start. There's no harm in 'over-explaining' policies, expectations, etc., but there is damage done when things aren't explained and the parent feels they're getting the raw end of the deal.

    I send out monthly newsletters to my studio that include reminders about upcoming events and (hopefully!) helps keep everyone in the loop.

    When I send out my monthly bills I make sure I include a reminder that they will be charged a late fee on next month's bill IF I haven't received payment by x-date.

    In other words, I try to state the same thing as many times, and in as many places as possible. It's always amazing to me just how much can be overlooked!

  3. Thank you both for your great thoughts! Lauren, I too think that monthly payments are best. My students and parents seem to like that way better as well, as they only have to think about it one time a month. I too like it best when there are "no issues." :)

    Sarah, I'm glad that you made communicating one of your resolutions for this year. I have thought about doing a monthly newsletter as well, but haven't made it happen yet. Thanks for the great ideas!