Monday Mailbag – How to Cover the Cost of Studio Incentives

For the Traveling to Triumph auction, did you collect the souvenirs yourself, enlist parents, or what?

When I first started developing yearly practice incentive themes (visit this post for a list of some of the earlier themes that aren’t available in the resource store), I just charged families $10 for the student assignment book and then covered all the other costs from the amount I charged for lessons. This was not a good plan for my financial situation. 🙂

Several years ago I started charging a yearly registration fee of $50 (due by August 1) that helps offset the cost of running practice incentive themes, printing materials, purchasing awards, renting facilities, etc. This has been SO helpful! Since I develop our theme for the year in the late summer/early fall, this usually gives me plenty of time to keep my eyes open for good deals throughout the year. Sometimes I know exactly what I want and do tons of research to find good deals; other times (like with the Traveling to Triumph auction) I had a general idea that I wanted items from each of the countries to which we traveled. I found the desired items throughout the year, either on-line, at stores around town, or occasionally when a friend or parent suggested something. (The only exception was the chocolate kinder eggs from Germany that I had my heart set on, so my neighbor had her Germany-dwelling son send her a box of them for me!)

Most of the time, I try to avoid trinkets and instead develop the theme in a way so that the end goal is more about personal achievement. When I use tangible awards, I like it to be something meaningful, lasting, and related to the students’ musical growth (e.g. a trip to a symphony rehearsal or a recording studio, the opportunity to produce and sell music-related projects, a custom-designed and printed name plaque, etc.). I usually allocate $200-$300 to the year-end trip/award/project, etc. – whatever it may be.

For others who use incentive themes and plan special awards/events for your students, do you collect a registration fee? Or do you cover these expenses out of the regular lesson fee? Or do you have parents contribute separately for these things? Or something else?

Remember, if you have a question you’d like to contribute to next week’s Monday Mailbag, leave it in the comments below or send me an e-mail sometime this week with Monday Mailbag in the subject line!

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