The Importance of Communication

… And Honouring Your Lesson Time Slot

I’m a parent, so I understand that things happen.

Children get sick. Work or events may run late. Or you may get a good run of traffic and end up very early.

But please understand also that if these things are going to impact your music lesson, please communicate with me as soon as possible so that I don’t end up with a day like today… which sadly happens more often than it should.

Let me tell you about today

Today I had 4 lessons scheduled back to back, starting at 4pm. I was due to be finished at 6pm, which gave me just enough time to have a quick dinner before having to be out the door at 6:40 pm to attend an event.

The first student turned up 15 minutes early. Luckily I didn’t have another student at the time, but I was in the middle of finishing preparations for the afternoon, which I had to interrupt. I accommodated the earlier start, though letting the family know that in future to please check in with me first before just turning up so early.

Then the start time for the next lesson came and went, and after noticing the next student was late, I received a phone call to say that they had car troubles and the RAC was only just leaving. Now 10 minutes into a 30 minute lesson, I could not accommodate them arriving late, as the next student would have been due to arrive at the same time they did. So I arranged for them to come after the rest of my scheduled lessons, which meant I now had a 10 minute turn around to eat and leave for the event on tonight.

And then the next lesson time came and went… with again no students. With two siblings not turning up, I now had a full hour wasted; by the time I was able to get a hold of a parent to find out what was happening, there was no time to contact the previous student to let her know that she could have come earlier than 6pm, and I wasn’t able to have made productive use of that time.

So then my 4:30 pm student arrived at 6:00 pm, and by the time she left it was too late for me to get to the event I had RSVPed for tonight.

Sadly this is not a rare occurrence

I have been late for or entirely missed many events due to students being half an hour (or more) late in being collected after their lesson, often without the parents communicating that they are running late (or going to be late).

I’ve had students be dropped off more than half an hour early for their lessons, and have often been used as a free baby sitting service – which is especially unfair on any students whose lessons are interrupted by another young student who isn’t able to wait quietly on their own, or to my own family when I can’t get on with dinner or the like if I still have a student that hasn’t left my duty of care.

I even once had the situation where one student was dropped off 15 minutes late, and the one after her was dropped off 15 minutes early, and they turned up *at the same time* for their lessons.

I totally understand if an emergency or illness genuinely comes up at the last minute – but PLEASE communicate to me what is happening as soon as you know that you can’t make the lesson, and check with me that it is ok to drop a child off early or pick them up late rather than just doing it without asking.

I usually go out of my way to accommodate changes wherever I can, and if they are particularly unavoidable then I don’t mind trying to find an alternative that works. The occasional change is fine. But regularly being messed about is not.

  • Please do not expect that I can provide free child minding – which is what I am doing if you are particularly late collecting your child
  • Please do not assume that if you turn up early that I can start the lesson early – you may be interrupting another lesson, or even the tail end of a meal and toilet break that I need to be able to get through a solid afternoon or morning of teaching
  • Please do not expect me to free up time to make up a missed lesson if you have failed to turn up to a lesson because you or your child decided to do something social at the last minute that really could have waited half an hour
  • Please treat your lesson as a priority commitment, and understand that my time is precious too – any extra time I put aside to provide a make up lesson is less time that I get to spend with my own family.

I have had to ask some families not to come back where these things have been regular, ongoing issues. It’s not something I enjoy having to do, and I really don’t want to do it again.

Change in Studio Policy

At the end of last year I had to re-think my make-up policy since it has been exploited, particularly if make-up lessons also end up getting forgotten and I’m asked to do a make-up of a make-up!

Last November I even ended up having to take time out of my own daughter’s birthday party to accommodate an urgent make up a few days prior to an exam, when the last 2 lessons had been missed due to impromptu social engagements organised by the student’s family, and that really isn’t fair on my family.

In consultation with other teachers and how they handle make ups, my studio policy been updated, with my new policy on make ups being thus:

Missing a lesson for any reason does not require me to provide additional lesson time. The fee for that week’s lesson will be payable whether you attend or not. As of 2020 I no longer offer make-up lessons; instead, I am able to offer online classes for the student to learn from home if they are unwell or do not have an adult available to drive them.

Studio Policy effective January 2020

Please help me avoid repeats of days like today. Please communicate – as early as you can!

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