Studio Management

Billing, scheduling, collections, fee raising, and other related topics.

Sometimes I’ll hear of people being struck with fear at the mention of making online payments through Paypal. Most of this is due to having received some malicious e-mail claiming to be from Paypal, with the attempt to steal their credit card information.

This is called “Phishing” and really has nothing to do with Paypal, nor any other financial institution, other than there are people out there who are trying to get that information from you.

So when you receive an email from “Paypal”, how can you be sure it is legitimate?

Take the “Can You Spot Phishing” challenge and see how well you do.

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What do you do for the summer? If you’re employed in a school system, how much summer vacation time do you take? If you teach privately, do many of your students continue through the summer, or do many of them cut down or take the summer off entirely?

From the post about Payment and Cancellation Policies (which has some new comments from teachers, by the way), it’s clear that some teachers set up annual tuition rates that include at least a portion of the summer for lessons. There is, however, always that pressure not to push students who want to take some summer time off. No one is at their best if they are always pushing and never taking a break.

As much as we’d like to regularize our income, we are also working with students as instructors and mentors, and can’t reduce this relationship entirely to financial transactions. We offer more than a commodity and expect students to respect us more than they respect a store or a salesman.

A number of my students continue through the summer, but maybe a third of them take a break or cut back. It’s a financial hit, but other events such as teaching at music camps or extra gigs tend to pick up the slack for me. What about you? I’m sure I’m not alone in being curious about the summer experiences of other teachers.

We all know that if someone wants to make progress in their playing, they need to [···]

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Back in March, I wrote a post about how we handle student payments and policies about attendance (Collecting the Benjamins). Because of the interesting responses from teachers, I thought it would be good to review two aspects of this subject again–payment policies and cancellation policies, and to summarize teacher responses. We would all appreciate it if you would be willing to “add a comment” at the end of this post, reflecting on your own thoughts and experiences. This is one topic we all deal with and are happy to learn more about from other experienced teachers. Below are summaries of responses from teachers writing about the earlier post, as well as ideas from my own experience.

(By the way, thanks to Valerie for her recent comment about the Music Ace free demo; see her comment at the end of the post about Online Music Games.)

1. Payment policies.

Betty: Teaches a year-round schedule and students either pay annually, semi-annually, quarterly, or if monthly, she divides the annual rate into 10 parts and they pay this amount monthly for 10 consecutive months. Students can leave with 30 days notice.

Jan: Charges a flat monthly rate based on the number of lessons in a school year divided by the number of months. It’s basically a tuition payment rather than directly relating the payments to the number of lessons in a given month.

Tina: Students pay for the lessons in each month at the first lesson of each month. She has Music Teachers Helper send invoices the first of each month, which works for most students; some need reminders.

Toby: His students pay monthly tuition.

Joe: Requires signed agreement and payment in advance.

Mine: I teach in two places currently. One place has people sign up for a semester (though some people manage to sign up for less); they pay the office and the office pays me based on lessons taught. Students can withdraw before the 5th lesson; otherwise they are committed for the semester. In the other location, students pay me directly, either 4 lessons at a time, or they pay at the first lesson of the month for the whole month. Student commitment is monthly; unfortunately, someone could drop lessons at the beginning of any month.

2. Cancellation policies.

Betty: With 24 hours notice, she’ll keep the payment but reschedule the lesson. There are 40 lessons in a year, and if they miss some or can’t reschedule, they lose those lessons.Jan: No refunds or rescheduling for missed lessons. She explains that  [···]

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