Like many of you, I did not graduate college intending on having a full-time career teaching Music Lessons.
I intended on becoming a music teacher for a school!
The opportunity to teach private music lessons just kind of fell into my lap, grew, and all of the sudden I found myself the proud owner of a music school where I taught lessons full time, and managed other music teachers.
All of my years in college trained me on how to become an AMAZING musician and even teacher.
NONE of my teachers or classes taught me the business side of owning a music school, and as a result, I almost lost my music teaching career before it even began.
Pictured above is one of me with one of my absolute favorite students, Patrick.
Patrick began taking drum lessons with me when he was about 6.
You know how parents of younger children will sometimes call you and try to convince you that even though most younger kids do not have the attention span to take lessons, THEIR child is "Special" and needs to be the exception to your age restrictions?
Yeah... Patrick actually WAS an exception.
He genuinely LOVED playing the drums. Practiced daily. Worked HARD. And his parents pushed him to be diligent without diffusing his passion.
Like other kids, Patrick also had other extra curricular activities he was involved in, as well as siblings with other activities and a busy mom.
I had a opportunity to be Patrick's teacher early in my music teaching career!
As a result, I was eager to please.
I was smart enough to have payment and make up policies students and parents agreed to when taking lessons with me, but was naive enough to allow parents to break those policy rules.
Enter Patrick again.
Patrick had a scheduling conflict with one of this lessons, and I agreed to schedule a make-up during my free time, even though my policy stated there were free lessons already built into each semester's lesson schedule. (This was also a dumb policy that I learned from, but that's another story.)
So, I broke my own policy rules and scheduled a make-up lesson for Patrick... and I FORGOT about the make-up lesson.
At this point in my life, I was teaching Monday - Saturday, AND leading worship for a local church on Sundays. I was BUSY. I was OVERBOOKED.
So, Patrick's make-up lesson came and I was in the middle of another commitment. Patrick's mom called me and was LIVID.
I apologized profusely, but I could tell she was contemplating dropping Patrick from lessons and finding another teacher.
I was freaked out because Patrick's mom was a VALUED member of the church I taught lessons through. If they received word of her being unhappy with me, they could have fired me.
Fortunately she gave me a second chance and I got to see Patrick become one of the most talented drummers I know.
I also learned the hard way that my policies not only exist to protect me, but to set boundaries for both me and my students that keep the lesson experience strong.
Music Teachers: Follow your studio policies!
Despite what your heart is telling you about giving that one student an extra make up lesson during your personal time, or allowing that parent to pay late without a late fee is actually hurting more than helping.
Just as kids are actually happier and more behaved with boundaries, adults are also happier and more sane with consistency.
After I missed Patrick's make up lesson, I became more confident about telling parents "no" when they asked for me to bend my policies.
CRAZY thing happened... Parents respected me and my time!
Parents actually started apologizing when they missed, and I stopped becoming the easy way out.
Actually, I had less skips and more students who were dedicated to their lessons.
Respect your students and parents' time just as much as you respect your own.
Boundaries are essential to all good relationships.
Do hard things, Music Teacher friends.
It's worth it.
Music Teachers: Stop Overbooking Yourself!
You don't have to eliminate make-up lessons completely, but there are 3 options that can significantly help alleviate the stress.
Grab the free guide and let us know if you have any questions!