Scheduling lessons during school hours

Amanda Marie said: Oct 14, 2012
Amanda Marie TewViolin
Saint Joseph, MI
14 posts

I have spent considerable time reading and learning from these posts but never posted myself!

I am interested to know if anyone has tried scheduling private lessons during school hours, for public school children. I have heard of teachers in the past who would only teach during school hours- parents would pull their kids out of school once a week for the lesson. Obviously there are benefits for the teacher in this situation, but I think there are also benefits for parents and students. In my school district elementary school gets out at 4:00 and young children are exhausted and have very little time before bed, especially if additional activities need to be crammed into that time. Just wondering if anyone has tried the school hours route and what your experience has been (did you meet resistance from parents, did willing parents meet resistance from schools). Thanks!

Ruth Brons said: Oct 15, 2012
Ruth Brons
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Viola
Livingston, NJ
148 posts

I have taught during school hours in three different ways.

  1. Home Schoolers

  2. Private School: as an individual subcontractor who has an agreement with the school to provide a “zero-budget” violin program. The school provides space to give lessons and group classes to children during lunch, recess, period zero, choice time, or any other time the classroom teacher will allow me to “borrow” the student, and I bill parents directly. Parents are welcome to attend these lessons, but they rarely do.

  3. “Tardy”: Twice I have had parents determine that the morning was their preschool child’s optimum learning time. Then when their child reached schooling age they continued with the early morning time slot, despite the school marking the child “Tardy” each Friday.

Nina Black said: Oct 15, 2012
Nina Black
Suzuki Association Member
Modesto, CA
10 posts

I’ve done this as both a teacher and a Suzuki parent, and it has worked perfectly. At this time, I start teaching at 9 AM 3 days a week, and on the 4th day I start at 1:30 PM. Over half of my students are home-schooled, as I am a “vendor” for several charter school programs. The parents of these students really “get” the Suzuki philosophy, as they are used to working with their children on all their subjects.

My own children (four of them) went to public school, but since I was teaching during after-school hours, I made arrangements to pick them up in the afternoon. It worked perfectly for us with my children who needed daytime lessons! I spoke with the teacher each year and explained that they were enrolled in a special fine arts class (music) and I WOULD be taking them out of school. I went into the discussion with the attitude that it was going to happen, and simply asked the teacher what times during the day would work the best with her lesson plan. In every case, they gave me their preferred time (usually during physical education or free reading time) and on lesson days we were just sure that the child did something extra in that area at home.

To find home school families for your studio, check with the charter schools (both public and private) and google “home school” or “charter school” in your area. There are several organizations here who look for vendors in the fine arts, plus they have yearly conventions and other meetings where you can display information on your studio and program. This is a perfect fit for a Suzuki studio.

Nina Black

Kassia Raineri said: Oct 15, 2012
 Piano, Organ, Violin
Newport, RI
1 posts

Thank you for your post, very helpful!

Laura said: Oct 15, 2012
Laura Mozena
Suzuki Association Member
Palm City, FL
105 posts

I teach home schoolers, adults and young kids during school hours. I have some lessons with older kids during school hours where the mom picks up the kids early from school and it works great. But it totally depends on the school. Some of our schools here are flexible with that sort of thing and others do not approve at all. It ends up being a personal family choice and I support what ever the parent decides. i still end up teaching til 7:45pm every evening no matter what.

Laura Mozena
[javascript protected email address]

Ken Hiebert said: Oct 16, 2012
8 posts

I’ve been trying to teach from noon—6:00 for the last five years. Two years ago I was doing a little bit in the evening but last year I stopped at 6:00 and probably lost about ten students. We have a Suzuki violin teacher in the area that teaches in the mornings and afternoons and he says you have to persevere a bit to make it work but it is well worth it. I’m still in the persevering part but with two young kids of my own my evenings are way to precious to be working during that time.
I also have a good friend who is a drum instructor who also does the majority of his teaching during the day. His philosophy is that if people really want lessons they will do it when you’re available. Perhaps easier for him since good drum instructors are definitely at a premium out here but it boils down to the fact that you have to do what works for you. If you don’t want to be working in the evenings then I wouldn’t worry about what the schools think about it. It’s always up to the parents and the schools have to respect that too.

Amanda Marie said: Oct 16, 2012
Amanda Marie TewViolin
Saint Joseph, MI
14 posts

Thank you for these replies- this has given me some great ideas to think about and some new avenues to pursue. I’m glad to hear that others have made the daytime teaching work to some extent. I live in a relatively small community and there are not yet many alternatives to the regular public schools- so the vast majority are restricted to public school hours.

There is one charter school, so I need to look into that. When you say you are a “vendor” for charter schools, does that mean that you are actually paid by the school instead of the parents (it is a public charter school)? Or that you are just officially advertised through the school. If you are paid by the charter schools can you still teach at home or do you have to find an insured, outside business studio. Also, if paid by the school, are you compensated less than you would for regular private studio lessons? Finally, do you feel like parents are as committed to the whole process if they are not actually paying for it themselves?

Maybe these are too many questions for an online forum. Any additional information would be appreciated.

Thanks again for your insights!

Paula Bird said: Oct 16, 2012
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Piano, Viola
Wimberley, TX
386 posts

Yes, I have done it in similar ways as Ruth. I teach one entire day (Fridays), because years ago I had several students who attended a four-day private school, and Fridays were the official day off each week (except when there was a Monday holiday). I have also taught students early in the morning before they went to school or parents had to leave for work. So I have been known to teach at 7 or 7:30 am. Those were tough years, but we made it.

I also teach my preschoolers on that day throughout the day. Because I also teach at the university, I am unable to add another day to the schedule, but my homeschoolers generally filled up my slots during the school hours.

— Paula

Paula E. Bird
TX State University
Wildflower Suzuki Studio (blog) (podcast)

Barb said: Oct 16, 2012
Barb Ennis
Suzuki Association Member
678 posts

I have a very small studio. The most students I’ve had is 12. Because I teach in my living room, I am committed to keeping that space (and my time) for my family in the evenings and on weekends. On top of that, I’m not much of a morning person, so I haven’t scheduled lessons prior to 11:00 AM. I have had several home school students and adults so scheduling has not been much of an issue (I have turned away some working adults). I reserve my after-school times for school age students, and only teach adults prior to 3:00 PM.

Regarding being a vendor… in my area I bill one of the schools that enrolls home schoolers. Each family has an allowance and if their lessons go over that, the school notifies me (only happened once), and the family pays the balance directly. I don’t need any special circumstances and charge the regular rate for these students. Having a professional invoice to send (I use Music Teacher’s Helper to generate mine) is helpful to them, I think, and I have had to report to an overseeing teacher on occasion which confirms they are meeting provincial guidelines.

I don’t know if that is what it is like with the charter schools.

These situations with the kind of budget that can pay for music lessons, btw, is not really technically home schooling—these kids are enrolled in these schools and have teachers overseeing their curriculum etc. as they have government guidelines to meet in order to get the level of funding they get. But they do it at home under the direction of their parents. Those who truly home school in our province (no strings to government) only register with a school who may reimburse a small amount to the family when they present their receipts. The schools receive less government funding for registered-only students.

The lessons being paid by the school has by no means meant a difference to the parents/students in my situation. It is still like their money, it just has to be spent on educational materials or activities. They are very thankful for the help in paying for all the music lessons, etc! (Rather than going towards a school bus or janitor at a school, for instance.)

Music Teachers Helper—for individual teachers
Studio Helper—for entire music studios or schools

Melanie Drake said: Oct 21, 2012
Melanie Drake25 posts

I can totally understand wanting that type of schedule!

I do know a few families that are lucky enough to afford private music instruction on a single income. I think this is the exception. My husband and I are software engineers. It’s been a very good way to make a living, but we simply could not afford music instruction for our three kids on a single income. It’s the primary reason I work. Since both parents work to afford lessons, we are only able to attend classes and lessons in the evenings and on weekends.

I think the market consists mainly of wealthy families and non-wealthy families like mine who are scrambling to make it work (e.g., by doing without other luxuries, by juggling their schedule, etc). I wish this weren’t the case.

The idea of lessons during school hours is intriguing though. I hope it works out for you!

You must log in to post comments.

A note about the discussion forum: Public discussion forum posts are viewable by anyone. Anyone can read the forums, but you must create an account with your email address to post. Private forums are viewable by anyone that is a part of that private forum's group. Discussion forum posts are the opinion of the poster and do not constitute endorsement by or official position of the Suzuki Association of the Americas, Inc.

Please do not use the discussion forums to advertise products or services