summer lessons

Grace said: Jul 2, 2007
110 posts

I would like to know about summer lesson policies.

Right now, I have a very strict “school year” attendance policy from September through May. In the summer (June, July, August) I have a sign-up system and charge per lesson.

Usually, I expect to earn a little less in the summer and that I’ll “make up” for it with summer wedding gigs, so I don’t worry about it too much. I expect my students to take vacations and camps, etc. but they usually come for lessons the weeks that they are in town.

However, this summer, a lot of my students signed up for ZERO lessons, and I am making a LOT less money (my hubby’s income pays the bills so it’s not a disaster for us, but what if I was the primary income?)

Plus, these students are going to be in BAD shape in the fall which will be a lot of work for me! So do some people have some policy about a minimum number of lessons or something like that?

Laura said: Jul 3, 2007
Suzuki Association Member
358 posts

I’m sure there are many takes on this issue. Personally, way back when, I remember having no summer lessons at all (I kept practicing, of course) and things were just fine. Now that I’m a teacher, I have a sign-up system for summer lessons. Kids come when they can, and that is entirely a parental decision based on family priorities over the summer.

Let’s face it—families travel, kids go to summer camp and other fun programs, and sometimes that is the only precious time off work that one or both parents have with the family. The regular routine, including regular music lessons, is often less of a priority.

In my own opinion, particularly considering the way our society works (for better or for worse), I believe were are teaching to provide a service to our students. As sad as it sounds, it is their choice how much they choose to partake in this service. In no way can we hold them accountable for our financial situation, etc. Of course, there is enough general agreement about the “school year” such that strict lesson policies can be drawn up to protect both our income and our sanity. But I don’t think it can be expected for the summer.

I always leave my students (and their parents) with enough to chew on over the summer, if they choose not to continue lessons. Of course, I always emphasize that one cannot truly take breaks from learning an instrument without something suffering, and at a bare minimum I emphasize to keep practicing whenever and however they can. I usually leave them with accomplishable goals that they can reach by September without lessons. However, I am powerless to enforce any decisions beyond that.

I’d be curious to hear any other opinions out there.

Connie Sunday said: Jul 3, 2007
Connie SundayViolin, Piano, Viola
670 posts

I pretty much insist that everyone take lessons all summer, though I do allow for two or more weeks off, which they can take without paying fees if they give me a month notice. I have to know ahead of time.

Most of my students take all summer; only maybe three or four have missed or will miss more than a week, for which I schedule a makeup if I have notice. About 1/3 of my students are adults, and adults and parents all know that I stick with my policies. Mostly they know this because I don’t give makeup lessons without 24 hour notice, and I do charge the $5 late fee if they pay the second week of the month. Usually it only takes once. I’m nice about it, but I have to stick with it.

The other thing I’m finding helpful is to schedule a third, studio recital, this year at the end of August, actually the day before public school starts. I think students are working harder because they have that, and I want to keep it in the schedule from now on.

My policy is online at:

Free Handouts for Music Teachers & Students:

Laura said: Jul 4, 2007
Suzuki Association Member
358 posts

Oh, I forgot to add that about 3/4 of my students continue some sort of lessons over the summer, although on a less regular schedule than the school year.

As for the rest, their parents are told very clearly about the importance of keeping up practice, and are given very specific practice goals during the time away from lessons. Beyond that, it’s beyond my control…

Rachel Schott said: Jul 4, 2007
Rachel SchottViolin
Harrogate, TN
127 posts

My new (as of last summer) policy:

There are nine weeks in the quarter. Families must pay me for at least seven lessons at the beginning of the summer. I set office hours—10a-2p on Mon, Tues, and Thurs. Plus, I’m in the studio on Wednesday evening from 5-9.

Families just drop in when ever they want. If no one else is there at the time they pop in, then it is an individual lesson. If there are a handful of students, it becomes a group class (or actually, more like a master class with each student having at least 5 minutes of one-on-one time with me). Families can stay as long as they like, or come multiple days in one week…

With this flexilbility no one argues that seven lessons is too much to pay for. I set the reduced price per lesson (because it isn’t guaranteed to be individual) based on the number of students, divided by my bottom line to meet my bills this summer. I should mention that I have saved some throughout the year to draw from so I could charge a little less, too.

The students like bumping into their violin friends they usually don’t see in the summer (we have regular group class in the fall). They don’t have to miss an overnight or picnic because there is a lesson scheduled, and I don’t end up waiting around for hours only to have a no-show. When the office hours are up, I walk out the door and don’t have to wonder if I’m forgetting some oddball make-up or re-schedule.

I have LOVED this plan.

If someone opts out for the summer they get last pick of times in the fall.

Best of Luck!

Jennifer Visick said: Jul 5, 2007
Jennifer VisickForum Moderator
Suzuki Association Member
Viola, Suzuki Early Childhood Education, Suzuki in the Schools, Violin
1076 posts

Interesting, I might try something like that myself. It sounds like stories I hear about Dr. Suzuki’s teaching here and there.

Currently I offer summer lessons on a pay-as-you-go basis. I have savings from the 9 months out of the year when I don’t do this, so if no one wants lessons, I still have enough to get me- albeit in a simple lifestyle- to september. I give everyone a list of the days I’ll be in town and available to teach, and students can either call 24 hours before to schedule a lesson or they can schedule the whole summer at once.

Summer gigs are a bonus but I don’t count on them!

said: Jul 10, 2007
 13 posts

From the parent’s side: Where I live (Sweden), we have no lessons at all during summer. We also had a 2-3 week break during Christmas.

This is our first year, and our teachers (we have different teachers for individual and group class) have not expressed any expectations for the summer—but we’re really pre-twinklers.

My personal goal for the summer is to practice every day, and to listen every day. The listening is harder, since we’re away on vacation a lot, but practice is going ok. Not every day, I admit, but most days. We have even managed to add some structure and focus to our practices that we didn’t have before.

Corinne said: Jul 29, 2007
 44 posts

I know one teacher who raised her rates during the school year slightly, so that by the time Summer came, each student already had a certain number of lessons paid for. They were required to use a certain number of them in order to keep their spot for the fall.

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