Is charging guitar students for missed lessons really the best policy?

There was a study done that showed charging late fees or for missed lessons can actually increase the number of no shows. Seems bizarre I know but you can read about it in the book ‘The Will Power Instinct’. Basically they introduced a late fee for parents at a childcare centre who were late picking up their child and the rate of late parents jumped dramatically. The theory is parents felt they could now buy the right to be late.

So what should guitar teachers do?
When we charge students for being late we are not actually solving the problem. If our goal is to produce successful guitar students we need them at the lessons. I have found the best policy is to address why they are not turning up. Getting paid might be a teachers main priority but I believe our top priority should be the progress of our students. Teachers do deserve to be paid but only if they are getting results.

But isn’t unfair on the teacher not to be paid for their time?
Our time is valuable and if someone reserves our time and doesn’t pay its hardly fair on us as teachers. I know what I say can seem nice in theory but does it work in real life and in all situations? I can’t say it works in every situation and you need to assess each individual case but what I can say is that the approach I suggest worked for me and my schools almost all of the time. Have you noticed how certain people seem to have the same reoccurring problems in life? This is not a coincidence. It occurs because of the way we address problems.

One teacher said he felt students were being disrespectful.
Trying to understand why students miss lessons will often leave you to a very different conclusion. Students don’t actually disrespect you. Its not at all personal. They are actually sabotaging their own dreams more so than disrespecting you. Think of the obese person who has joined the weight loss centre. They really want to lose weight but they fail to attend their class not out of disrespect but because they don’t feel motivated. They would rather eat donuts and watch TV in the moment but later of course later regret their decision. Motivating your students to attend each and every week is the key. I achieved this very easily. I would not talk about money or paying for missed lessons. I would simply say this; “I can only teach you if you can attend each week and do the minimum practice required. Are you able to attend each week and do the practice?” If they said no I would ask why and if they could not agree to meet my requirements I would stop their lessons. Problem solved.


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