Tuesday, August 6, 2013

What's in my Studio Policy?

This year I was careful not to have a policy that was too long or one that included suggestions. If parents don't follow my suggestions, it sure can be trying, but its not a cardinal offense. My policy contains those items that are more like "deal breakers".

I split the policy into basic sections:
  1. Required Equipment
  2. Home Practice
  3. Expectations
  4. Financial
  5. Cancellation & Termination
  6. Communication
These are the things that are most important to me and that I feel I would want to stand firm on or enforce in my studio if any of these were violated. Parents are asked to read the policy in full and they are provided with a signature form that includes a place to initial each of the 6 items and sign at the end of the policy.

The Parent Handbook and my Studio Policies are sent out electronically the first week of August to allow plenty of time for them to read it and sign it and get the signature page back to me by their first lesson on Aug 26.
All parents are informed that a 4% cost of living increase in tuition was applied this year and I will do so again in 2 years. This way they are informed before it happens.

1. Required Equipment:
All students are required to have a tuned, acoustic piano, in good repair, for daily practice. All students are also required to have a quality, working metronome.

Effective participation in any sport cannot take place without the correct and properly functioning equipment. An electric keyboard or digital piano with 88 weighted and “touch sensitive” keys plus proper foot pedals is acceptable for 1st or 2nd year beginners or until the student begins classical music study when an acoustic piano will be required for classical study. “Toy” keyboards, broken, out of tune, or neglected acoustic pianos are not acceptable for anyone studying music. Intermediate and advanced students are required to have a quality acoustic piano regularly tuned and good repair (all pedals and keys should be working condition, etc).

2. Home Practice:
Students are expected to be prepared for each lesson and to have completed their entire assignment. Parental support of a daily home practice regime is required for consistent progress.

This requires a commitment to learning to play piano by practicing the piano at home each day for approximately the same number of minutes as the lesson. Consistency is the key to success at the piano. (see the Parent Handbook) Guided Practice Sessions are offered once a year in your home. (Please review the Guided Practice Sessions handout for more information.) New piano parents are strongly urged to take advantage of this to ensure their child is practicing in a manner that promotes progress at the piano.

3. Expectations:

Students are expected to arrive on time each week with all of their materials. Students should also arrive healthy, with clean hands and clipped fingernails. Hands can be washed in the waiting area powder room. Young visitors and siblings should be supervised at all times.

If your child is sick and/or contagious, please refrain from bringing them to piano- this can quickly escalate into an epidemic of 30 other sick children and families. This can also result in getting the teacher sick, which in turn affect everyone. Clean hands will help to minimize the spreading of illness as everyone is touching the same piano during lessons. 

Nail tips that protrude from the fingertip, even slightly, will not facilitate correct hand positioning at the piano. 

The waiting room is not a childproofed area and young siblings should be supervised at all times. Waiting for siblings who take lessons should be considered “quiet” activity time and lessons in progress should not be disturbed. Practice chains are the property of the students only and should not be handled by visitors or younger siblings. Damage to materials in the waiting room should be reported to me at once.


All students are expected to participate in studio activities, parties, and recitals. Absences from these events are the exception, not the rule. Students are also expected to dress appropriately at studio events and recitals and to arrive to recitals and events on time.

Most events are free to students and their families. Studio events are a crucial part of my student’s curriculum. They not only provide the opportunity to advance performance skills, but they foster acquaintances/friendships between students, parents, and families. Students who parents do not feel this is an important component and consistently skip events or are “no-shows” miss out on performance-building opportunities and are not encouraged to continue study with me.

4. Financial:
Piano instruction is year-round and based on 37 weeks of academic-year instruction and 8 weeks of summer instruction. Tuition should be remitted by the first Friday of the month and past due accounts (7+ days after the due date) are charged a $15 late fee.

“Academic Year” instruction begins August 26, 2013 through June 13, 2014
“Make-up Week” runs June 16, 2014 through June 20, 2014.
“Summer Instruction” runs June 23, 2013 through August 10, 2014.
Academic Year Instruction-
Tuition is paid in 10 equal installments by cash, check, or credit card (PayPal). 

[This is where I include specific tuition fees and payments for both 45 and 60-minute lessons]

Summer Instruction-
Students should plan to continue weekly lessons to facilitate maximum progress. However, a minimum of 5 out of 8 summer lessons are required during the summer to maintain a slot in my studio. There is a risk that minimal lessons over the course of only two summers can put your child a full YEAR behind their peers. This is especially true for 1st and 2nd year students.

Summer lessons are scheduled online by the parent to allow for vacations and a flexible schedule. Cancellations of summer lessons with under 24 hour notice are still billed. All scheduling and cancellations should be completed online by the parent.

Books, lesson materials, and awards are not included in tuition and are billed separately.
Piano lessons books and the assignment notebook are billed to your accounts as necessary. Registration fees are billed to your account for county and state events, special studio events, and testing. Awards, ribbons, and trophies are billed to your account in June. All fees are reviewed and discussed prior to billing.

Refunds or adjustments in fees are not offered for missed lessons or late arrivals.
Refunds are not offered for registration fees or awards. Refunds are only provided
for any unused books in returnable condition or over payment of tuition upon
calculation of final bill.

**Tuition refunds are not issued when a student is dismissed or has quit lessons without one-month (4-weeks) notification.** Any remaining credit for tuition fees beyond 30 days will be promptly returned. See Termination policy below.

5. Cancellations & Terminations:
Lessons are NOT cancelled when school is cancelled or closed for ANY reason. Any lessons cancelled by me are made up during “Make-up Week” in June only. I am not able to offer make-up lessons for student cancellations for any reason during the school year.

Families are offered an opportunity to swap lesson times with another family to avoid missing a future lesson. All students are given a current studio roster containing all contact info. Swaps are not handled or facilitated by me in anyway. Lesson swaps work when EVERYONE participates and helps out a fellow student in need. 

Please use your own judgment and call or text if you feel very uncomfortable with road-conditions. I will make-up 2 lesson cancellations per academic year due to inclement weather only. Please use judgment when driving in snow or ice.

I reserve the right to dismiss a student from my studio based upon
· Lack of interest in taking piano lessons or poor attitude in lessons
· Non-communicative or uncooperative behaviors during lessons
· 4 or more missed lessons
· 4 or more unprepared lessons
· Repeated late tuition payments
· Repeated “no shows” or absences from events 

I reserve the right to dismiss a student immediately if the student has acted out inappropriately toward me or other students, or with respect to the studio or my home.

Quitting without notice just before I expect to be paid is inappropriate and causes my family financial hardship. Quitting without permitting closure for the student can be damaging to future teacher/student relationships. If a situation arises in which a family must discontinue lessons mid-year, I require one month (4 weeks) of paid notification.

The decision to quit piano lessons should be made thoughtfully, OPENLY, and honestly with plenty of discussion between parents, student and myself so we can complete the year with a positive sense of closure. Interviewing with another teacher prior to terminating lessons with me will result in immediate termination from my studio.

6. Communication: 
The best way to contact me is by email or text message at xxx-xxx-xxxx, in which case I will promptly reply, if needed. If you wish to discuss your child’s progress please feel free to call me anytime before 2:00pm.

Please do not attempt to discuss your child’s progress at the lesson while another student is waiting. I do not take calls while I am teaching. The studio website and email are used to send out information that you need about the studio. I email Piano Studio Announcements regularly, so please be sure that I have a current email address and telephone numbers for you.

It is the responsibility of the parent to read all emails and announcements in their entirety when sent. The studio website is meant to provide you with information concerning recitals, studio closures, billing, and other events.

A Final Note:
When you register for lessons, you are making a commitment from August through June, as learning to play a musical takes at least this long before a determination can be made if it’s right for the student. Parents and students alike are expected to take piano lessons seriously. Students are expected to progress in their studies by means of daily home practice. Students are also expected to follow the rules set forth by me in my studio.

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