Every year, I also think about my makeup lesson policy. A lot. Every year, I adapt my makeup lesson policy, especially as my studio has grown and I need to accommodate those changes.
Makeup policies and defining good and functional ones have always been a struggle for me because I want to teach your child! I genuinely love teaching and I would rather teach than not. I look forward to seeing all the students every week and I’m always a little bummed when I don’t get to see a student due to a scheduling snafu.
Also, missing lessons is detrimental to progress and it makes it more difficult to sustain steady progress. This is especially true when there are upcoming recitals, auditions or juries. Missing lessons is very disruptive to the schedule, my overall plan for the student and the progress of the student. So again, I’d rather teach than not, especially when there is a plan in mind and a goal we are trying to achieve.
But I am also running a business and while I would love to teach for free, my income is entirely derived from teaching private lessons and running my studio. I would love to accommodate everyone and be as flexible as I can, but I am also trying to protect myself, my business and my livelihood.
Also, the scheduling is really a pain. A big one. It’s my least favorite aspects of studio management but I have to do it. The less time I can spend managing the schedule, the better. That means more time devoted to things I love doing, such as teaching and more recently, writing. Dealing with constant scheduling issues, makeup lessons, cancellations, etc., takes time away from doing those things that I love.
Just to give you an idea of some other things I’d like to accomplish in the future:
- Finish my Suzuki training. I am only registered through Book 8 and I’d like to take the time to complete the remaining courses.
- Complete additional training – Early Childhood Education, Music Mind Games, Supplemental Suzuki Courses
- Suzuki Certificate of Achievement
- Work towards becoming a Suzuki Teacher Trainer so I can train other cellists in the Suzuki philosophy and method.
- Write a book! My blog and writing that I share every week is my first step in achieving this.
- Give my own recital. While I think of myself as an educator more than a performer these days, I do miss learning new music, collaborating with a pianist and performing.
Lastly, I want to have a life, too! Teaching and playing the cello is difficult to separate from my personal life because it is so deeply personal for me. Playing the cello is very much who I am and something I have identified with for most of my life. Teaching isn’t just a job for me and I don’t walk out of my studio at the end of the day and cease thinking about it. I am thinking about it all the time. Thinking about the students, how the lessons went that day, what could have gone better, things I can do differently, etc. But, in order for me to be the best teacher I can for everyone, I do need that personal time. I know it makes me a more effective teacher and a more well-rounded teacher, musician and human being. The last thing I want is to burn out on teaching so my boundaries are in place to avoid that.
So back to the makeup lessons…
Often times, if I am unable to accommodate a makeup lesson, it’s simply because I do not have room in my schedule. The schedule is complex as I am working with 30+ families, all with different schedules and activities, in conjunction with my own. Sometimes it’s just not possible to squeeze in a makeup lessons. I understand that things come up unexpectedly but sometimes, I just cannot accommodate a makeup lesson.
All that being said, here are my makeup policies and hopefully this has provided better insight on why I have chosen these policies.
Now that I’ve filled you in on my perspective a little bit, below is a write-up from a parent of a child enrolled in Suzuki lessons and her perspective on makeup lessons.
Make-up Lessons From An Economist’s Point of View
Many teachers hesitate to refuse our request to shift lesson times (because our busy schedules do change), because unless they keep us parents happy, we will decide to take our child somewhere else for lessons (or to drop musical study), and they will lose part of their income. This is particularly true in areas with lower average income, where it can be particularly difficult to find students. So rather than telling us that ‘well, actually, the only time when I’m not teaching and that you can bring your son for lesson is during the time I set aside each week to go for a long soul-cleansing walk, and I can’t do that on Monday at 3:30 when you should have turned up’, they agree to teach us at a time that really doesn’t suit their schedule. Teachers who are ‘nice’ in this way often, in the long run, end up exhausted, and feeling exploited; they try to draw a line in the sand. However, too few parents ask to switch only when absolutely necessary, and too many parents want lesson times when it suits them this week, which is not the same time that suited last week. If the conflict arises because my child is in the School play, and they have their dress-rehearsal during his lesson time, then I feel that I must choose between the two activities, and if he attends the dress rehearsal my private lesson teacher doesn’t owe me anything.