Q. “Should my guitar students pay for missed lessons?”

Lesson CancelledSo how do you feel when a student calls you and says “Sorry can’t make the lesson today” but also doesn’t want to pay” Is this annoying knowing you have set time aside waiting for your student who not only cancels at the last minute but doesn’t pay? So what do you do about it? It seems every teacher has a slightly different take on the situation but in almost every case they are not happy about guitar students who do not pay for missed lessons. When you think about it why should it be the teacher’s responsibility when its their guitar student who has failed to attend the lesson. The following advice will in almost every case solve your problem but you may not like what I have to say, at first anyway. I know it works because once I implemented this strategy I rarely had a problem with unpaid lessons.

Why not just have a clear policy stating ‘All cancelled lessons must be paid for’?
Wouldn’t this be the simple solution? Well in theory it’s a good policy…for the teacher but, students are obviously not so keen on such a strict policy especially when your competitor is much more flexible. Even when teachers have a policy like this in place students will still ask for make ups or refunds and many teacher feel that saying no might risk losing the student. A strict policy is not really the answer because it does not get to the root of the problem.

Why do guitar students really cancel lessons?
The real reason is one of priorities. Think about it. If a student is seriously motivated about learning guitar and truly values your lessons why would they even consider missing a lesson? Did they really get caught up at work? Is it seriously too much home work? Is they so unwell (every 2nd week) that they can’t make their lesson? Of course not. The problem is simply that they do not value the lessons enough to make it a high priority.

The solution
I once believed that students should pay for missed lessons because ‘my’ time was valuable and they had made a commitment until it occurred to me that students who were missing lessons obviously didn’t value the lessons enough to want to be there each and every week. This led me to accepting that if students were missing lessons they were obviously not a high enough priority for them. As I began to look closer at the problem I found a close parallel between practice and attendance. Those students who practiced consistently also attended lessons every week. Once I understood this I explored the reasons behind why they were not practicing which led me to ensuring consistent practice among my students and consistency with their lessons.

What if they don’t practice? 
Check out the following blog post ‘Should I be tough on guitar practice?‘ http://g4teachernews.blogspot.com.au/2012/08/should-i-be-tough-on-practice.html

If your students are missing lessons forget about the money. The problem is connected to their practice. Find out why they are not practicing and fixed the problem and in almost every case lesson attendance will no longer be an issue.

Why most guitar teachers are BROKE!!!
The simple answer is they just don’t earn enough. The business of teaching guitar has changed dramatically in recent years due to the Internet and other factors. Guitar teaching is simply not what it used to be. If you are a guitar teacher and are not earning over $100,000 per year for less than 20 hours a week than something is WRONG.

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