Sometimes seeing the larger picture behind my profession as an independent teacher is difficult to see. Teaching is not a profession I entered because of any financial reward. I teach for the love sharing and helping others, much like my mentors helped me. There are no paid sick days, paid holidays, bonus checks, or health insurance. The following story will hopefully provide the prospective student the reasons behind this policy.

When I started out as a teacher 25 years ago, students paid only for lessons they attended while expecting the same weekly time. I was a young teacher in high school who did not have to make a living at the time and, though I felt my time was not respected by many students, I was not as affected financially by this arrangement. 

Students at that time would come and go as they pleased because they knew they would not have to pay if they were absent. Some students would disappear for weeks at a time; many would not inform me that they would be absent.

Many students regularly missed two or three lessons each month. Students would pay for the one or two lessons they attended, even though they had set up a regular lesson time. As a result, some months would bring only 50 or 60% of what my monthly teaching roster indicated. 

This approach changed once I was on my own and fully responsible for paying expenses and supporting myself. I quickly realized that I could not survive as a teacher with as many students as I had on a pay-per-lesson basis. I would need to nearly double my roster of students to offset the monthly shortfall. To accomplish this, I began teaching for other music schools and conservatories.

Every one of these schools paid teachers based on their time and the number of actual lessons attended by students. When a student canceled or was absent for any reason, the teacher was paid. Such a policy lifted a great deal of stress off of the teachers and kept the school in business. None of the schools could exist on a pay-per-lesson basis. Soon after I started teaching for these music schools, I changed my own policies; these same policies have been in place ever since. 

Having a roster of 60+ students and teaching 8-10 hour days, seven days a week, as I once did, was far more than I could reasonably handle. Such a situation was no benefit to anyone, which is why I eventually cut my roster in half and limited the number of students I teach per week. Being able to provide the best support and attentiveness for each student is crucial to me. 

Students who schedule a lesson time (whether it is a single lesson or for a regularly scheduled time every month) are responsible for paying for that slot, absent or present. Because each student pays for the time reserved for each lesson and not for the lesson itself, I refer to the monthly payment as a tuition. The tuition reserves the student's weekly lesson time; no make-ups are guaranteed or credits given for absences. 

I understand that unforeseen situations arise, such as a cold or an emergency, and having to pay for a missed lesson can be frustrating. I have been in that situation many times myself; however, expenses do not lower when students are absent (e.g. landlords do not deduct absences from rent). As an independent teacher running a small business with a limited roster of students and two studios,  I cannot make a living as a teacher when weekly students pay only for the lessons they attended in a given month. 

I have yet to come across a professional in any field who does not want to feel that their time is valued. I am no different in this respect. Imagine that you work for a business; your boss schedules a meeting with a client who ends up canceling. Would you feel it reasonable if your boss told you that you will not be paid for your time because the client was absent?

If you are looking for a teacher who can afford to charge only for attended lessons while reserving your weekly lesson time and guarantees make-ups or credits for missed lessons, I am not the teacher for you.

Copyright 2017, GreenMusic LLC.