Most of my families know that make up lessons is one of my least favorite topics. The different policies from studio to studio are as varied as you could possibly get. Some teachers offer an unlimited amount of make up lessons. Some teachers offer one per year or one per semester. Some teachers don’t offer make up lessons at all. The real question is, does it really matter? Are the make up lessons or lack of make up lessons effecting the student in a positive or negative light? Here are my thoughts.
Currently, I do not offer make up lessons for student absences. My reasoning for this has multiple parts.
1. The actual make up lesson for the missed lesson usually falls on week with a regularly scheduled lesson. This means that over the course of 8 days a student would have 3 lessons. Many times this can leave students feeling stressed out and it takes an additional week for the lessons to find their correct balance again. I would rather have a student out for a week and then come in with 2 weeks preparation of material for us to work on. So many lessons crammed into such a short time leaves the student musically burned out.
2. When should these lessons be scheduled so that it is fair to everyone. If I only offer one make up date at the end of the semester or year and a family is unable to attend, I usually hear get asked if they can pick another date. Well, if I reschedule for one then I really have to reschedule for all. It is much easier just not to offer make up dates.
3. There just isn’t time in the schedule. My teaching schedule is quite full and there just isn’t time in the day to fit those extra lessons in during the week and I prefer to keep weekend time available for my family. Last year there were over 20 weekends when I was gone with students participating in music activities. That is a lot to ask of families.
Even though I don’t offer make up lessons there might be an available option. I am looking at allowing students to trade lesson times if it is done with at least 2 weeks notice. I had a teacher that did this and it worked quite well. Everyone was given a roster and if you knew you were going to miss a lesson, the family was responsible for calling another family to see if they would be willing to trade. Trades were limited to one per semester. I haven’t completely made up my mind but it could be a viable option.
Choosing your lesson time carefully can cut down on missed lessons. Most of my high school students take later lesson times. Don’t schedule a lesson so close to school getting out that you are trapped in the car pool lane even though the teacher’s studio is only 5 minutes from the school. Kids and parents get sick and things come up. As a teacher I understand that but keep in mind that there are often 40 students who could be calling any given week for a schedule change. Things could be come chaotic very fast without a firm studio policy.
As a reminder, always read your studio policy sheet carefully and keep a copy handy at home.