Read The Policy, PLEEEASE!

All professional music teachers (and dance teachers, and art schools) have a policy in place that is required reading before students begin lessons.

During the last year, more than ever before, I have had to put students "on probation" or dismiss them because they were ignoring my studio policies. This is hard on everyone involved, especially the student and teacher who otherwise may have a good relationship.

Some of these polices are for the protection of everyone. I have an In Person Lesson Policy that states the precautions I take to keep myself and all my students safe during this Coronavirus Pandemic. Mask wearing, sanitizing, keeping distance as much as possible during lessons, only the student in the room with me.

For some students, I have had to gently remind them when they started to get sloppy about following the rules. Others, I had to insist they either go online or discontinue for a time (and lose their place) or really change their ways by the next lesson.

At the top of my policies page is my Practice Suggestions. It boggles my mind that students would sign up for music lessons and not be prepared to practice at least 3 days a week! Private music lessons are expensive, especially with an experienced teacher. Do you want to learn? Want to get the most out of your monetary investment? Make sure practicing is done 4, 5, maybe 6 days a week. The length of time is dependent on level, and your teacher will make individual recommendations about time.

The thorn in the side of every piano teacher is the Make Up Policy. I clearly state in mine that make up lessons are not guaranteed! If I miss a lesson due to illness or a conflict, yes, that is my responsibility and I will either make it up or refund for that lesson. I intentionally create my studio calendar to include breaks when people would normally take them, July 4th, Memorial Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas/Winter Break, a Spring Break that coincides with the local public schools. Summer can be scheduled with some flexibility, depending on how many camps students take.

I have had parents pull their students out of elementary or middle school to go off on a big vacation, miss their lesson of course, then demand a make up lesson from me. Some parents have literally said "I paid for that lesson" or "You owe me." As I recently explained to one insistent parent, "You are paying for me to reserve a day and time weekly specifically and only for you. I cannot schedule new people in that lesson time. You are asking me to keep that time reserved just for you, and work another time, for which I will not receive payment. I lose money every time I make up a lesson." If someone has a gym membership and does not go to the gym for a month, they cannot go back to the gym and demand a credit because they did not show up to work out.

I do try to make up lessons as a courtesy when an opening is available, but that is a courtesy, not my contractual obligation. After working with people from a variety of fields: professors, scientists, lawyers/judges, and business people, I have discovered that of all professions, doctors understand my policy the best. As one ob/gyn told me after I offered to make up a lesson with her "Please don't worry about it. I make my living by appointments. I know how missed appointments affect your time and income."

If you want to have successful music lessons and good relationship with your teacher, READ the policies, ASK questions, and decide BEFORE you start lessons whether or not you can follow the policies. The policies are there to help you, and to avoid unnecessary conflict.

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