Under what circumstances do you reschedule lessons

Crystal R said: Oct 23, 2012
 Violin, Voice, Piano
9 posts

Hi guys!

I’m wondering under what conditions are you willing to reschedule lessons and which are you not?

My teaching situation is a bit different… I teach private music lessons out of some of the schools during school hours and private lessons in my home studio as well.

Do any of you have a similar teaching arrangement, please share your thoughts even if your teaching situation is different.

Alissa said: Oct 23, 2012
Alissa Rieb
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Suzuki in the Schools, Viola
61 posts

I do not offer makeup lessons at all. What I do instead is offer, for example, 12 lessons in a 16 week term. This allows things to come up without complicating a very full schedule. I also publish my schedule each week. Students are allowed to trade lesson times and e-mail me they’ve done so. The only exception I make, which has happened maybe twice since I changed policy, is if I am sick and in combination with the families absences, there were more lessons missed than the grace weeks allowed. In that case, I gave the family a credit toward the following term for the lesson I was sick.

Hope that made sense!

Phyllis Calderon said: Oct 23, 2012
Phyllis CalderonViolin, Suzuki Early Childhood Education, Suzuki in the Schools, Piano
Chicago, IL
22 posts

I give make-up lessons during the end of my 10-week session. However, if I have had a student cancel because of illness or being out of town, and another student has had to reschedule, I’ll have that student come in place of the canceled student. But my policy is only one make-up lesson allowed per session and only if they have notified me in at least 24 hours in advance. I’ve had students let me know 30 minutes before their lesson so those lesson are not rescheduled. And because I bill upfront there is not an issue with not being paid.

To answer your question, though about rescheduling a lesson: if I am sick, the student is ill, or I am out of town (which rarely happens) or inclement weather (or I will credit to the next term).

Hope this helps!

Phyllis Calderon
Director, String Instructor
A Touch of Classical Plus, Inc.—Calderon Music Studio
www.atouchofclassicalplus.musicteachershelper.com

Barb said: Oct 23, 2012
Barb Ennis
Suzuki Association Member
Cello
678 posts

I will allow 2 make-ups per term, and schedule a few days for that each term. I don’t have a big studio, so this usually works well for me.

There must be at least 24 hours notice (any reason) except for illness or bad weather, in which case I request that they let me know as soon as possible. I didn’t used to have the limit and had one or two students (teen/adult) abuse it. I think, “I’m not feeling well,” really meant, “I don’t feel like coming today.” Those calls would usually come at about the time they would normally be leaving their home to come to lessons.

My students also pay in advance of each term which makes it easier on my end—I don’t have to ask them to pay after they have missed.

Sometimes my students have travel plans before I make up my schedule for the year and so I go ahead and book their make-ups. Usually, though, I request that they log in to my website and book their own. (Music Teacher’s Helper provides the online calendar and also helps me to keep track of make-up credits.) They don’t all worry about using make-up credits, though I’ve had one ask even when she simply forgot about her lesson! (The answer was no.) I also encourage them to trade if possible, and let me know when they do.

Of course if I had to cancel I would re-book or give credit.

I always keep notes of when/how lessons are cancelled on my “notes” section in my on-line records. Just in case someone was to come back and claim they should have make-up credits. It hasn’t happened, though.

I don’t recall if it was someone on this board or another, but I once read that someone scheduled lessons every week, but only charged for four per month, rather than offer any make-ups. Between holidays and five week lessons, it all seemed to work out for them, and I think that if no lessons were missed the students ended up getting a bonus or two per year. If they missed one or two, they weren’t being charged for them, anyway.

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

Gloria said: Oct 30, 2012
 
Suzuki Association Member
Piano
70 posts

I have a policy of no make up lessons. There are so many reasons for this, I would not know where to start. I do give out, though, a contact info sheet to all parents so that they can arrange their own swaps if needed, and sometimes i help them do it. But I do not add teaching hours to my teaching schedule. I used to have a lot of guilt about this, and some new families sometimes still feel the need to try to twist my arm or appeal to whatever they can think of, but I remind then of what happens if the student has to miss school for any reason… I have spent a lot of time worrying about this, and sometimes it is still hard to hold my ground, but I, and the parents, also appreciate consistency in my work and their expectations.
I hope this was helpful, and, if not, at least another perspective.

Barb said: Oct 30, 2012
Barb Ennis
Suzuki Association Member
Cello
678 posts

“Make-up Lessons from an Economist’s Point of View” on the Ottawa Suzuki Strings site is an interesting read and might help parents understand those of you who do not offer make-up lessons.

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

Crystal R said: Oct 31, 2012
 Violin, Voice, Piano
9 posts

Thank you so much for your thoughts on this subject!

I recently had quite a few students miss their lessons due to a field trip with their school. (I teach private lessons during school hours.) I hadnt been given notice by any of the parents except one which was given the morning of. I contacted each parent and gave them options of rescheduling. If they couldnt make it at the times i had mentioned then they missed out on the lesson.
What are your thoughts on this specific situation?

Crystal R said: Oct 31, 2012
 Violin, Voice, Piano
9 posts

I should mention that these lessons are held at the schools.

Gloria said: Oct 31, 2012
 
Suzuki Association Member
Piano
70 posts

Hi Crystal. I am not familiar with the arrangement you have at the school, with the parents and with the school, so maybe my opinion is not relevant to your case. BUT, if nobody gave you notice, that is a no-show, and, in my mind, deserves no make up. Maybe you need to make plans for such a situation for the future. If you decide you want to offer them a rescheduled lesson, I would make sure it is a a time/day when it is absolutely convenient for you, or spread the make ups so that you do not have to do them all at once.
It should be easy and convenient for you!
Not knowing your specific situation it is hard to make a suggestion… but it hope this helped.

Barbara Lamb said: Nov 1, 2012
Barbara LambViolin, Suzuki in the Schools, Bass, Cello, Viola
Eden Prairie, MN
7 posts

The students and parents don’t have control over a field trip. Yes you should have been informed but it often doesn’t happen. Since it doesn’t appear that you are a regular faculty member, all you can do is ask for a heads up from the office. I’m sure that the parents would think that you would have been informed. It is unfortunate but I think that all that you can do is make future plans and make up these missed lessons or risk losing all of these students.

Barb Lamb

Barbara Lamb

Barb said: Nov 1, 2012
Barb Ennis
Suzuki Association Member
Cello
678 posts

I think Barb Lamb is right. Do give the make-ups this time, at least. But also ask the school AND the parents to please notify you in the future so that you can plan your day in advance. Hopefully if one doesn’t the other will. Gloria is right, too, in that with such short notice (or none at all) a make-up is not deserved, but you can extend some grace this time as it was an unexpected situation and the parents probably expected you to know about the field trip since you are at the school. A good clear policy at the beginning of the year is advisable. Sometimes we run into situations which we didn’t consider … then we learn and revise the policy for next time!

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

Paula Bird said: Nov 5, 2012
 
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Piano, Viola
Wimberley, TX
386 posts

I have a no makeup policy. However, once that is said, I actually do try and make up lessons if possible, but my schedule does not permit me to do much about adding lessons or times. My schedule is full and tight right now.

I may have gotten this idea from my friend Barb or Diane. I use Music Teachers Helper (MTH sebsite). When a student cancels, they go to the website and cancel the lesson. I get an email at that moment telling me what’s up. I then go in to the program and turn that cancelled lesson into an open slot for students to select. If a student has missed a lesson, they have the option of taking a makeup lesson on an open slot. If another student cancels later, I might contact the first student who missed and offer the new slot as a makeup. Sometimes it works out, and sometimes it doesn’t. Maybe a student will get a makeup two weeks later.

I generally schedule about 33-34 lessons per school term, but I bill for 30. That gives me a cushion of 3-4 lessons, in case I need to cancel lessons because of an unscheduled symphony event or other wedding gig I want to take. If students do not cancel (and neither do I), then the students get the benefit of the added lessons. If I need to cancel, then I know that I have that cushion. I tell my parents that the cushion is for my convenience, not theirs.

I bill monthly tuition. I amortize the amount of the 30 lessons over the 9-month school terms, so that my students’ tuition payments are the same each month. It works for me and my studio parents appreciated the same amount each month for computing their budgets.

Paula E. Bird
TX State University
Wildflower Suzuki Studio
http://teachsuzuki.blogspot.com (blog)
http://teachsuzuki.com (podcast)

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