At this time of year, there’s a lot of talk about piano studio policies and not a lot of talk about Christmas. But as find myself answering more and more teacher questions about piano studio policies, I find myself thinking more and more about Christmas… here’s why.
Every Christmas Eve Andrea, I and the girls head out to search for a special new decoration for our Christmas tree… and every year we find ourselves perusing a new shop on our search for that perfect piece.
This past year we found ourselves in an ironically unpleasant Christmas shop… I know… weird! Christmas is supposed to be a time of celebration and joy and yet we walked out of this shop feeling a little Scrooge-ish. But we couldn’t help ourselves. This particular store was covered (and by covered, I mean practically wallpapered) in signs.
And not signs like, “Merry Christmas” or “Joy To The World”; I mean signs like “Do Not Touch” “You’re On Camera”, “No Children Beyond This Point”, “Keep out”, “You Break It, You Buy It” and this list goes on and on and on and…
The signs really ruined our experience. We felt anxious and unwelcome… and we hadn’t even done anything wrong. I mean sure, the signs raise some valid concerns of the shopkeeper, but the sheer quantity of signs (I am certain) do more damage to his bottom line than shoplifting and accidents combined.
Bring A Little Christmas Cheer To Your Piano Studio Policies
The success of your piano students depends heavily on the success of the parent-teacher-student relationship. Often one of the first communications at the beginning of this relationship is your piano studio policy. It can establish a relationship of mutual respect or… it can start the relationship off on the wrong foot.
Here’s 2 Strategies To Avoid The Wrong Foot
1. Avoid Too Many “Signs”
Your piano studio policy must set clear boundaries (this will prevent problems in the future and foster a good relationship) but not be overly burdensome. There are really big problems that a good policy can solve (ie. make-up lessons, missed payments) and then there are really little problems that are best solved one-on-one (without your studio policy).
Think about how I felt in the Christmas shop, or how a little child feels when they are constantly told don’t do this, or this, or this. Just like the aforementioned examples, a enormous studio policy can be very distracting during those initial and important moments of relationship building.
So, build policies around your most important problems… not every problem.
2. Let Them In On Our World
So now that you’ve narrowed down your piano studio policy, you’re good, right? Well… not quite yet!
You’ll also want to make sure you explain each of your piano studio policies. Parents are not piano teachers and therefore cannot be blamed for not understanding some of our biggest frustrations. And when they don’t understand our biggest frustrations, there arises an opportunity for arguments.
So, make sure that each piano studio policy is clearly justified. Rather than saying “Make-ups will not be given”, say something like, “As my studio schedule is full, and because each child has a reserved weekly lesson, there is simply not enough time in my teaching week to provide make-ups for missed lessons. If you happen to miss a lesson I will be using that time to assess your child’s progess and to plan activities for your child.”
Designing your policies in this manner makes it much more likely a parent will say, “Okay, that makes sense.”
And finally, a closing thought
If you treat every client like your best client, not your worst client, your piano parents will be happier, you will be happier and your studio will be healthier.