Monday Mailbag – Lesson Scheduling Nightmares

After 5 years of private teaching, my students are growing older and have many more conflicts in scheduling. Do you expect your students to be present every week (I do) and if they can’t, do you give them vacations or how do you make it work? What are your lesson attendance policies and do you have any thoughts? I’ve just always said that it’s this much per month no matter how many lessons we have…I don’t charge any studio fees, recital fees, anything, but I don’t think parents realize how much goes on outside of their 30 or 45 minute lesson! Help! I’m a little frustrated but I know many others have been down this road!

In general, yes, I expect students to attend their lesson weekly. But I know that piano lessons are just one part of their lives. They have other responsibilities and events and I understand that piano won’t always be the priority. I adhere to a pretty strict no make-up lesson policy because I don’t have the flexibility in my schedule to give lessons outside my regular teaching hours. For this reason, my studio families know that if they can’t make it to a lesson, they will just miss that lesson.

As scheduling conflicts arise, students and families have to make difficult choices about which activities to attend. If basketball tryouts are the same afternoon as the piano lesson, they have to decide whether to make the lesson or try out for the team. If a friend schedules a sleepover for the night of the piano lesson, they have to decide whether to skip the lesson or come anyway and maybe just arrive late at the party. And so on. Most of my studio families see their lessons as a long-term pursuit, not just a short-term stint, so I don’t give them a hard time for missing lessons. That’s life. And we’ll just pick back up the following week and press on.

As an aside, if we recognize and want parents to understand that the students’ music education encompasses so much more than just their weekly lesson, we have to not act like the world will fall apart if they miss one lesson. 🙂 In fact, I have a family who moved this fall and ended up missing two months of lessons while making the adjustment and getting settled into their new place. We are just now getting back into the swing of lessons. They may have forgotten a few things, or be a little rusty technically, but we are picking up where they’re at and moving forward. And in the long run, they’ll be just fine!

[NOTE: If you want to see the exact verbiage of my lesson attendance policies, just visit the Lesson Info page on my studio website.]

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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