As a musician, teaching is something we will all do at some point.
But whether you have one student or fifty students, there is ONE thing you need if you want to run an efficient studio.
As a private music teacher, it is important to have solid protection for yourself and your business - we don't have a "boss" we can hide behind when it comes to dealing with sticky situations. Since word-of-mouth can be an integral part of building successful music studios, we need to have a system in place to handle everything with grace (even when we wish we could just delete that email and pretend we never saw it 🙈).
Whether you have only one student or a full studio with a waiting list, treating it as a legitimate business is crucial if you want to save yourself time, money, and awkward situations. Nobody wants to have a studio of students who don't practice, or have frequent last minute cancellations or no-shows, or who whoops! forgot to pay you on time again.
The number one thing that will help you?
For my private studio, I have a handbook that contains an introduction to my studio and teaching philosophies, outlines both the student and teacher responsibilities, and has a rock solid contract that both the parent and student must sign before lessons even begin.
And at lesson number one?
You bet I review the student responsibilities in detail, including how frequently they need to be practicing.
What will this do for your studio?
Thanks to my studio handbook, my life is much easier.
Last minute cancellations and no-shows are a thing of the past.
Payments are made on time and in full.
I am not put in awkward situations like getting asked to provide a make-up lesson for a lesson that was cancelled last minute, or if payment can be made on a different day, or getting asked to reschedule a lesson moments before it is supposed to happen.
Since all policies and expectations are clearly laid out it establishes respect for me, for the studio, and for the student's learning. It has helped me to build and maintain a positive environment where my primary focus is on showing up and helping my students grow as opposed to cleaning up administrative messes and constantly worrying about whether or not I'm getting paid.
Because let's just be honest here...when a student doesn't practice or when we have parents that push our kindness with consistent reschedules and cancellations and late payments, it's tough to show up as well for those students. We are only human and it is difficult to be fully engaged and committed if we have that uncertainty in the back of our heads. If all we can think is, "I guess we'll see if they decide to practice this week..." or, "Hopefully she will actually show up to her next lesson..." it's hard to give fully of ourselves. Because at that point, what good is it even really doing?
After instituting my handbook, these situations are rare. Yes, they still happen, but now at least I have something to protect myself with. Now, instead of allowing my energy to be drained and my time to be wasted, I can dismiss that student from my studio and get back to a positive environment.
What should be included in a private music studio handbook?
When I crafted my studio handbook, I wanted it to serve as a complete introduction to my studio that also clearly laid out all expectations and policies. It has also been shaped by years of teaching and going through those awkward, "Oh this is definitely being added to the contract" moments. A lot of contract creation will be guided by your own experiences, but it always helps to have somebody who has been-there-done-that to show you the ropes... which is exactly why I created a downloadable checklist of every section that is included in my studio handbook to help guide you as you create or update yours!
If you have any questions, comments, or other topics you would like me to cover, please send me a message here. I would love to hear from you!
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Thank you for reading!