What to include in a studio policy. This is one of the first topics new teachers ask about.
Basically, a studio policy should include anything relevant to the business relationship you have with your students. This document will probably change over time and it will be influenced by your life situation and priorities.
Topics to Think About
These five points are a starting place, but you can add and remove elements to fit your situation.
1. Payment Policy
- How much is tuition? When is it due? Are there late fees?
- How is tuition to be paid? (check, cash, online)
- How much should the student expect to spend each year on music?
- What does tuition cover? (lessons, preparation time, recital expenses, your ongoing professional development)
- What other expenses should students expect? (recital fees, music, instrument + maintenance, etc.)
2. Missed Lessons & Cancellations
- What happens when a lessons is cancelled or missed? Do you allow makeup lessons or refunds?
- If so, how much advance notice do you require to grant this privilege?
- Under what circumstances? (sickness, birthday parties, forgotten lessons)
- What happens when you have to cancel a lesson? (provide substitute teacher, reimbursement, reschedule)
3. Inclement Weather
- Do you follow a certain school’s weather cancellation policy?
- How will you communicate whether or not the studio is open? (email, text, phone)
- Will lessons cancelled due to weather be made up or reimbursed in any way?
4. Vacation & Holidays
- How many weeks of vacation will you take each year? Approximately when will these take place?
- For which holidays is the studio closed?
- Studio Calendar: As an addendum to your policy, you can put together a calendar for the next 6-12 months to communicate your vacation days, studio holidays, and recital dates in one place.
5. Discontinuing Lessons
- How much advance notice do you require if a student chooses to quit lessons?
- Do you offer reimbursements for outstanding lessons?
Distributing the Policy
Give all prospective students a copy of your policy and review it with them prior to beginning lessons. When expectations are set right from the start, things run more smoothly and you can run your business with confidence and professionalism.
I know a teacher who hands out her policy (printed on brightly-colored paper so it cannot be missed!) to students at the beginning of every semester. You can be the judge of how often your studio needs a reminder. 🙂
If you have any feelings of reluctance or nervousness about handing out a policy, just mark a date on your calendar to hand it out, along with your studio calendar, at the beginning of every school year. It’ll be fine.
Enforcing a Studio Policy
Even with a great studio policy, situations will still come up where students ask for exceptions, but you’ll always have this document to fall back on if you think the request is unjustified or unreasonable.
If a student wants a makeup lesson and your policy specifies that you do not offer makeup lessons, you can simply remind them of the policy and mention that it would be unfair to your other students if you made an exception in this case.
Most students are respectful and won’t fight it and the ones who do complain might not be a great match for your studio anyway.