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Music lessons - how flexible?

(35 Posts)
pugsandseals Fri 14-Sep-12 16:23:06

Hi - I'm a music teacher teaching mainly in schools but with some private pupils at home. I'm just trying to gauge what is reasonable really.
I am very busy with schools this term & I've had to be much firmer with timetables for my home pupils as a result. Many are not happy about being tied to a single time slot for the term & asking to change slots with little notice. I really enjoy my private pupils, but some have got very used to changing lessons around to suit their social plans. I feel as though I'm bending over backwards to please them all to the detriment of my sanity as it just creates so much admin & rushing around!
As a parent how much commitment would you expect to give to music lessons? I have teacher friends who make all pupils sign an agreement! I don't want to go that far but need to find a balance - please help me by giving your views!

AMumInScotland Fri 14-Sep-12 16:37:58

All of my DS's music teachers expected to have a regular slot at the same day/time each week, and expected a reasonable amount of notice if we had to cancel unless it was something totally unexpected and serious. We never expected to be able to chop & change in the least!

I think you need to be tougher with them - some people will always take advantage if you seem ok about them messing you around.

BrigitBigKnickers Fri 14-Sep-12 16:42:00

I think a regular commitment to a music lesson time is fair enough.

I used to teach music privately and my pupils had the same time slot every week. I would change it on the odd occasion when there were unusual circumstances but any lesson changed with less than 24 hours notice and they would be charged for it. I certainly don't think their social lives are unusual circumstances... They are taking advantage IMO.

DeWe Fri 14-Sep-12 16:43:04

For all the dc I get a time and a day for the music lesson. If I can't make one then I don't expect any recompense from the teacher, and I would still expct to pay. If they choose to give a lesson another time, or refund me, then that's them being kind, not expected. If they alter it, then I'd expect to have one in exchange or money back, unless it was an emergency, in which case I wouldn't say anything.

For some of the lessons we have a fixed term of 10 weeks (and half term off) so tend to have first/last weeks may not be on.
For others we discuss first/last weeks, and they tend to be fairly flexible in the last weeks of July, so I'll let her know which we will make and pay accordingly.
I pay full terms for the 10 week terms, and half termly for the more flexible ones.

pugsandseals Fri 14-Sep-12 17:06:56

Wow - all you guys sound great, would you like to be my pupils? grin
Is it seriously ok to ask for payment in blocks like that? I must admit I've always got them to pay on the day.
I sent timetables out last week hoping to be strict on when pupils come this term & I've already had 2 say they want no more lessons because they can't commit to the same time each week & another 2 ask me to change the time for next week only 3 days after agreeing the time slot in the first place! I'm starting to worry that if I also asked them to pay for 1/2 a term up front they might all leave! confused
I agree that I have been too relaxed in the past, but is was ok when I was working less hours in schools. Still not sure what to do...

mummysmellsofsick Fri 14-Sep-12 17:09:01

I've done your job and I'd say you are being too flexible. It doesn't do anyone any favours. If they miss the lesson they should pay. I used to rearrange if necessary before an exam but not otherwise.

AMumInScotland Fri 14-Sep-12 17:19:32

If you mostly have the same pupils from one year to the next then I think it would be kinder (and less likely to lose a lot of them) not to try to make too many changes at one time, so a stricter timetable this year (and make them stick to it) but maybe leave changing the payment schedule until next year. Also, for some families 10 weeks payments all in one go would be a lot to find, so you might want to be flexible about that, depending maybe on what you can guess about your pupils situations.

We've never been charged for a missed lesson, but we've never missed without warning in advance or it being an emergency. And in fact we've had a lot more times when the teacher has had to cancel or re-schedule so I think flexibility on our side for that has repaid any inconvenience on the odd occaasion we've had to change.

Katisha Fri 14-Sep-12 17:20:12

I have honestly never come across a teacher to varies the time is lessons to suit non committal pupils. It's always been the same time every week for us unless the teacher is hosting exams in her house, in which case she rearranges. If we miss a lesson we still pay. How else can you run a business!
Think you need to toughen up. If you lose some pupils, don't worry - you'll get others.

Katisha Fri 14-Sep-12 17:20:54

Sorry about phone typos

pugsandseals Fri 14-Sep-12 17:37:30

Thanks Katisha,
I think I do try to please everyone else before myself & quite often find myself having to explain as to why I can't change to a particular time. I used to work 3 days & offer about a days worth of private lessons over 3 days. Now I am working 5 days & have 2 days worth of private pupils which I am stipulating have to be on the same 2 days of the week it has come as a shock for some! I was happy to change lesson days/times on occasion when I was building up as I had the space to do it. Now I don't have the space & just end up feeling guilty that I can't offer the same flexibility to pupils that have got used to it.
I think I have dug myself into a bit of a hole & it is going to take a struggle to get out again!!!

Katisha Fri 14-Sep-12 17:44:51

It's great that you have do much work! But you are going to have to explain that your circumstances have changed and that's that! Your pupils unfortunately don't realise that your way of working up to now is not typical.

ZZZenAgain Sat 15-Sep-12 09:24:47

dd's music and singing teachers are all very busy and we arrange a time/date as binding, without a contract, but nevertheless I stick to it. If I need to change the slot as a long-term fixture, the teachers do try and find someone who will swop but then it is a new binding time/day.

So if a lesson is on Monday at 4pm and we cannot make it one week, I will still have paid for it whether an alternative lesson can be organised that week or not. If a teacher has a very full timetable , it just isn't reasonable to expect him/her to be able to find another slot IMO. Sometimes you have to miss a lesson because of illness or some other thing going on but I think you have paid for the teacher's time. In that slot which you have, the teacher cannot do anything else such as teach someone else, so if you cannot come, I think it is reasonable that it is still paid for.

I always pay a month in advance and I think that is quite usual round here

picturesinthefirelight Sat 15-Sep-12 10:03:03

Dd has lessons at school and is given a timetable at the start of term. We pay in trembly blocks.

I has piano lessons from the age if 10 to 18 and was billed monthly but my lessons were always on a set day/time

Dh is more flexible but he mostly teaches adults/students preparing for audition or professionals wanting a one off troubleshooting session. He has very limited private slots dye to his college work and any cancellations have to be paid for.

You are being too flexible.

titchy Sat 15-Sep-12 10:31:29

grin at trembly blocks! I feel trembly when I get the invoice too!!!

picturesinthefirelight Sat 15-Sep-12 14:20:43

Lol predictive text perhaps gave a good alternative to termly

happyAvocado Sat 15-Sep-12 14:23:14

our music teachers are always sticking to their timetable, the agreement we parents sign is that if less than 7 days notice from our side - they charge for it

morethanpotatoprints Sat 15-Sep-12 21:53:35

I think it depends on the circumstances. For example my dh has a few private pupils doesn't have schools. He does mutual flexibility. Booked in advance for auditions, concerts, comps etc he doesn't mind. He too gives them notice if he's touring, recording or concerts etc. But no lesson because I'm going out on town, shopping with auntie Jane or the dentist (unless emergency) its not on.

schilke Sat 15-Sep-12 22:49:02

Dh is same as nomore's dh! He mainly teaches in schools and only has handful of private pupils. He always signs up private pupils on the basis that he will ditch their lesson for playing work, so it works freely both ways. I can see if you have lots then you need to keep on top.

He only has a few as prefers school teaching - can rattle through the pupils in strict time slots! Mind you those parents can be a nightmare...little tommy can't miss double maths and English, oh no he can't do a lesson in lunchtime either.....could you get to school for 7:30 as that would be great for us hmm

morethanpotatoprints Sun 16-Sep-12 15:17:42

I think the music teachers doing this as a profession (to pay the bills) have to be a bit flexible but not taken advantage of. I think its fair for say an adult who works shifts, or a specialist consultant, or nurse to be able to choose time on a weekly basis. I know this can create admin problems but if they are reliable i.e lesson every week, I don't see a problem in supporting their needs. Its not their fault they can't dedicate the same slot each week. Those who are musicians can't always guarantee same slot for pupils every week either. My dh is employed by the conservatoires to do workshops, masterclasses, this is probably the only contracted work to be booked along way in front. Radio interviews, recordings, gigs, concerts don't always get booked many weeks in advance. Also deps are often last minute so sometimes a few hours notice is all the teacher can give. So I think it depends on the circumstances of both teacher and student, and give and take on both parts.

Xenia Sun 16-Sep-12 15:47:47

We have had 5 children doing at least 2 or 3 instruments each and 3 won music scholarships (so lots of teachers over the years) and we have never NOT had one slot a week which never changes. if a parent cannot organise a diary they should find another teacher who has so little on they can chop and change. Obviously on a rare occasion you might make an exception but best not to do it very often.

janji Sun 16-Sep-12 15:52:42

Both my dc have swimming and music lessons in pre paid blocks. If we miss any then we also forfeit that weeks paid amount ( no refund). When booking each block of 6, we have to notify of any holidays / goods reasons not to attend and will not be charged. Dd also does dancing and skating. All lessons have to be paid for (even the missed ones regardless of illness / hols etc.

janji Sun 16-Sep-12 15:53:32

Meant to add that all extra curricular act's dc do have a weekly set time and day that isn't allowed to be changed.

DontCallMeBaby Sun 16-Sep-12 16:00:00

What you're finding is that once someone's had something (flexibility in this case) it's hard to give it up. DD doesn't have private music lessons but if/when she does it wouldn't occur to me that we could just chop and change times to suit - just like we can't with any of her clubs. But if her riding school decided we could no longer just book lessons whenever it suited, I'd be pretty ticked off! Which makes me think ... I think PAYG rather gives the message you can change times, whereas paying up front for half a term of 4pm on Tuesday doesn't. Plus IMO it's actually rather less painful to pay up front but miss a week, than it is to hand over cash for a missed lesson!

ByTheWay1 Sun 16-Sep-12 16:04:32

Our piano teacher does lessons in our home - he can only do our area of town on Wed/Thurs due to costs of fuel/time constraints etc (he doesn't charge travel expenses)- so we got to say when we were free on either day and he gave us our time slot.

We are a bit flexible - if he has a cancellation he will sometimes ask if we can move later as we are the first on his evening, and if we need to be a bit earlier, he will see if he can get here early.

We arrange lessons in 4 week blocks - if we say we can't make one during the 4 week scheduling, then we don't pay for that week, if we just cancel ad-hoc during the 4 weeks, then we pay.

morethanpotatoprints Sun 16-Sep-12 23:59:01

Pugs.
You do need to be careful with the ones who can't commit due to work rotas. In the past my dh made allowances for them but they had to fit in with other people. So say they came wed at 4.30 one week had fortnightly lessons they could book the lesson then for whatever time he had free. They paid up front the same as every body else. He overcame your problem by producing a contract of terms and conditions and it worked really well. The cancelled lessons were paid for which enabled him to stop schools. (He hated these). This was about 20 years ago but I know teachers who do this now.

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