One of the most important things you can do when setting up your piano studio (or re-vamping your piano studio to work better for you) is to have a written Piano Studio Policy. It’s the #1 way that piano teachers can avoid potential problems and headaches. Having a written Studio Policy ensures that everyone is on the same page; clients feel informed and know exactly what is expected and you feel at ease knowing that no “surprises” will pop up during the year.
We have many piano teachers ask us “What should my piano studio policy sheet look like?”. What should I include? What should I leave out? What is fair? So today we’re laying out our advice for the top 4 piano studio policies that will make you and your clients happy.
Why Just Four? Why Not More?
Our opinion is that less is more. Pre-emptively striking on every possible situation or problem does nothing but a) make your clients feel as though they’re bombarded with rules and regulations and b) negates the impact of your most important policies. Give someone 4 simple points and they’ll remember each one. Give them 14 and they’ll stop reading after 6. It’s unfortunate, but true.
Why Are These Four The Most Important?
The piano studio policies that we’ve chosen to highlight are the issues that are the most common across all piano studios. They are the policies that prevent the largest problems and they are the ones that will make your life much easier once they are in place.
1. Policy #1 – Your Schedule – Lay out your teaching schedule for the year. State your expectations for attendance (including the summer months if applicable). Explain what will happen if you need to be absent for any reason (illness, weather, your Moroccan vacation etc.). Give a calendar with the dates clearly marked when your studio is closed so no confusion happens during the year.
2. Policy #2 – Payment – Decide on a way you would like to be paid. Monthly, term-by-term or yearly are the most common methods. Build-in security by requesting payment be made a week before your next payment term begins (ie. the last week of each month, the last week of each term etc.) This gives you peace of mind by ensuring you are pre-paid before the start of the next session. Make payment options simple (limit it to a choice of two different methods that work for you) and state what will happen if payment is not made on time
Most teachers choose to be paid by cheque. Others have moved to online credit card payments or bank transfers. Carefully choose a method that is convenient but that doesn’t cut into your bottom line too much with added fees.
3. Policy #3 – Missed Lessons – Decide what you are comfortable with (no make-ups, make-ups for illness only, make-ups in other students’ cancellations only, make-ups through swap-list only, make-ups in a group lesson format once a month etc.) and state your decision clearly as well as the methods you would like people to use to let you know if they will be away (i.e. are you okay with a text or do you require a phone call etc.)
4. Policy #4 – Discontinuation of Lessons – What do you expect in terms of notice and payment if your student discontinues lessons part-way through the year? If you require 1 month’s notice, then it is a good idea to have a 1 month’s payment deposit taken at the start of each teaching year (the last month of the year submitted along with the first).
Can It Be That Simple?
Yes, it really can! A professional-looking policy sheet that is short, sweet and to the point can really make this part of your piano teaching studio much easier. Keep in mind that it needs to be in writing, distributed in a way that you know each parent will receive it, straightforward and to-the-point, and written in a way that is kind yet unapologetic.
Will you deal with parents who need reminders beyond these four points? Absolutely. Students will be picked up late, students will arrive without their piano books, students won’t practice and so on. However, by limiting your studio policy sheet to just these four categories you thereby ensure that the majority of your studio abides by the most important points. Incidents that happen aside from these four categories can be dealt with as needed.
Combining a well-written and concise studio policy with your commitment to building relationships with your clients, your attention to creating and sharing newsworthy studio events, and your decision to present your studio in a professional way truly will relieve you of most of the “typical” piano teacher headaches in a positive and pro-active way. Why will they make your clients happy? The truth is, everyone is happier when clear and fair expectations are presented for anything; piano studio policies included.