Music Teacher's Helper Blog

I’m pleased to announce that it only took 10 minutes to upgrade to the Invoicing System, so we weren’t down for long at all.

As I mentioned in the last post, Music Teacher’s Helper will now let you create invoices that you can go back and review any time on your Invoice History page, accessible by clicking Billing -> Invoicing -> Invoice History. From there, you can print, email, or delete the invoice. There is also a page for Invoices by Student that lets you see a chronological list of all invoices you’ve created for a particular student. When that student (adult student or parent) logs in to their account, they will see their invoices as well and can make payments from that screen.

One big change that this brings deals with when items are charged. For those of you who charge a flat fee, before when you created an invoice, the fee showed up on the invoice, but it didn’t actually charge the student by adding the fee. Music Teacher’s Helper will now automatically create any scheduled fees that fall within the date range of the invoice, and add them to the students account as charges. This makes it easy to see exactly how much the student really owes right now by looking at the transaction history.

If you charge per lesson, then any future scheduled lessons that appear on an invoice will now be treated as charges on the student’s account, whether or not they have been reconciled. And deleting an invoice will remove the charges. Since you are actually billing the student at that time, it makes much more sense to charge the student’s account at that time as well, rather than waiting until the lesson is reconciled. This also means that lessons do not really ever have to be reconciled anymore, although you still may want to so you can send lesson notes to the parent and mark attendance. As before, if a lesson needs to be cancelled or rescheduled, the system will take the amounts into account on the next invoice.

We hope you like these new changes. We’ve had more requests to improve this part of the program than any other, so hopefully this will make a lot of people happy. Please let us know if you have questions or if you find any potential bugs, so we can fix them asap.

There are several other small changes and improvements we made to various parts of the program along with this upgrade, which are too small and numerous to mention here. The next feature we’ll be releasing is a file upload area, allowing you to share documents, music, and other files with your students! So stay tuned for that!

Thanks and have a great day!

Brandon Pearce

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Music Teacher’s Helper will be getting some new improvements tomorrow that will require us to take the site down for a couple hours.

We’ll be making long-awaited improvements to the Invoicing system, allowing you to review a history of invoices you’ve sent, as well as resend or reprint them for your students. This change will also clear up a lot of frustrations with the current invoicing system concerning knowing how much students actually owe. Now, for those who pay per lesson, as soon as the lesson is invoiced, it becomes a charge on the student’s account. You’ll be able to easily see which items have been invoiced and which haven’t. We’ve fixed and improved a number of other small things as well, such as always listing students by last name first.

The site will be down on Thursday, May 24, 2007, from about 9:00pm to 11:00pm MDT while we make the change. We’ll try to have it back up within the first hour or sooner. Actually, it could just take 20 minutes but we want to make sure we don’t underestimate. We’ll make it live as soon as the changes are made.

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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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