Monday Mailbag – Charging for Lessons

How do you charge for lessons? I have been charging new students by the month, old students pay when they have their lesson. I haven’t found a happy medium and can’t figure out a good way to go about doing semesters (with make up days) which would really help my business. The way the economy is I am afraid of losing the students I have and should I just start doing semesters with new students?

This is a great question! When I first started teaching (and didn’t have a clue what I was doing!) I charged per lesson and the families paid at the beginning of the month for the lessons they planned to attend that month. What a disaster! Lesson commitment was a huge problem, and bookkeeping was a headache. Eventually I switched to a flat monthly rate. The lesson fee is $xx/month per student which includes weekly private lessons and participation in all studio activities. The monthly fee is the same regardless of how many lessons are in the month or how many lessons the student attends. Even if a family is going to be gone for an entire month, they pay the same fee because that time in my schedule has been reserved especially for them.

I know there are teachers who charge by the year or by the semester and that works great for them, but I prefer the monthly approach. It’s easy and manageable for both my studio families and me. Basically, I would think through what will work the best for you and your studio families and then base your payment structure on that. Always emphasize as you make changes that you are looking for ways to run your business more efficiently so that you can focus the majority of your time and energy on teaching rather than on bookkeeping related issues. (And if you haven’t tried using Music Teacher’s Helper yet, I highly recommend it. This has streamlined my bookkeeping so that I hardly have to do anything anymore!)

As an aside, one of the things that I am always looking to do is increase the value of what I am offering my students. I always want families to feel like they are getting a great deal for their money, just like I want to feel when I pay for a service. That’s why I put so much effort into planning yearly practice incentives, holding fun studio events, and providing a well-rounded music education with lots of additional opportunities offered throughout the year. The basic premise of a good market exchange is that both the buyer and seller are exchanging something of value for something else which they perceives to be of greater value. I try to keep this at the forefront of my mind and look for ways to ensure that my families receive a great value for their money.

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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