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I don't want to join the teachers group, but I know a lot of you are teachers, so here's my question:

What do you do when a student does not show up for a scheduled lesson and doesn't call ahead of time to cancel?

My wife gives woodwind lessonsin our house, and on a fairly regular basis, a student just doesn't show. My wife usually has made a special to be home in time for the lesson, and we arrange our family's meal around when she has lessons scheduled.

Do you charge full or partial for the lesson? Or do you just ignore it?

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But when you attend college or Univercity you pay your tuition up front and so it is the same when youa ttend private lessons, they are booking their time to save just for you.Ship
I posted this because of my concern with my wife's situation. She told me she has thought of gettting paid in advance, but often things come up with her, too, so she has to cancel. She feels that she needs to be tolerant of the student. The big difference between my wife and her students is that my wife contacts her students and their parents when this occurs.
I am a student, my lessons are in the instructors home. I have a "regular" weekly day and time but we confirm my lessons in advance two or three weeks at a time because I sometimes have evening conflicts related to my job. He is a professional musician, and made it very clear to me from the beginning that if he had an opportunity for a $200 gig vs. the $20 lesson, then he will call me and cancel. I am not under a contract, but I pay at one time (in advance) for a series of 10 lessons. When those 10 are exhausted, I pay for another series of 10. Perhaps this approach is something your wife could explore. And if a student misses a lesson, then that means they just used up one of the available lessons left in their series.
I am a student. I pay regardless of my attendance. Only seems fair to me. I pay even if I give notice unless we can reschedule. The fee is automatically taken out of my checking account every month.
Ergo: lesson learned.

I don't pay for vegetables in advance and pick them up next week
I don't pay my barber for haircuts in advance
I don't pay for auto service in advance and collect later..
so what's with this relationship between music instructor and student.. I don't get it.

Those business models are all true, however, when one takes a course you pay for the length of the course be it a month, a semester, or a year. If you miss a class you don't get a refund. Private lessons are more along that business model.
Teaching is a business, but it is also a relationship with the student. If you know the student (or parents) well and they are reliable, there is probably no need to charge in advance. However, if the student misses lessons without calling or good reason, charging by the month, in advance, does make sense. You have made the commitment to that time, so should the student.

Paying by the month is easier for the parents and you also, less checks or cash to hassle with every week...

If you can't make a lesson, you could simply credit it to the next month. You could also do the same for good students who have emergencies, or get sick, etc.

I also work at two music schools. One charges by the month - direct draft from a credit card or checking account. The other charges by semesters. So paying in advance is not uncommon.
Where I live, we have a tourist economy. People just don't have a lot of money so I don't ask them to pay in advance. If I have a no-show, I point out to them very sternly that I could have scheduled a make-up lesson during that time, and their not showing up costs me money. They usually offer to pay for the time slot they missed. And I usually refuse their payment but DO tell them that I have a waiting list, and if they miss another one without calling, they will lose their time slot and go to the bottom of the waiting list should they want to continue with lessons.
Lots of great advice here, especially the need to see what you do as a business. I have my students pay in advance. They are given a written policy stating the guidelines. In my case, I tell them that unless it is a family or work emergency, they are still to pay for the lesson. If it's an "excused" absence, I will also try to do a make-up lesson if I'm able (remember: if it's excused, then you have to carry it over to the next month. If I'm able to do a make-up lesson, that's money in my pocket). Also, it is my opinion that a teacher/student relationship is just that - a relationship. There is a need to be firm but there is also a need for your students to know that there is room for grace every once in a while (kind of like cops do when they give you a warning even though they're in their rights to give you a ticket). It's a bit like the difference between a Home Depot and a local hardware store. The little guy knows his customers by name, their individual circumstances, etc. He still has to earn a living and can't allow his customers to take advantage of him, but there is something cool about knowing that guy and respecting him enough to not take advantage of him.
Twenty-four hours of a no-show, otherwise they pay the full fee. Except if it was an emergency. If they cancel late through circumstances then we arrange for a make-up lesson at a time other than the normal lesson time. One way you can get around cancellations is to have students book blocks of lessons, 5 lesson or 10 lesson block or whatever, and they pay up front, at or before the first lesson.
What we used to do at the music shop where I was teaching (don't currently teach) was charge two lessons at the first lesson, then the students are instantly one week ahead in payment. If they miss a lesson, they have already paid for it. Unless they gave the 24 hours notice or it was an emergency. Everybody was cool with that idea.
full price, 3 misses your outa here.
I guess we all have (stuff) that comes up. It it's a passion, it just can't all be about the money..... Have "you" ever been on the other side of that? Sounds like some unplanned "ME" time to me....:) D
No-shows are fully paid and not refunded, which isn't a problem since all my lessons are prepaid for the year. I do not reschedule them either, unless there has been some sort of emergency. The deal is this, they pay and show up, and I teach. My part of the deal means I have prep-ed, scheduled, and been present. Their part of the deal is they pay, practice, and be present.

Years ago, before I did it this way, I could stand to loose 10 to 25% of my income to no-shows and unscheduled absences. This way I loose nothing and folks make a greater attempt to attend or give at least 24 hours notice.

It seems like I'm being a hardass about it, and I suppose I am, but I get better attendance, more respect, better results, more serious students, more peace of mind, and more secure income this way.

Peace, Mike.


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