When setting up your own studio, one of THE most important things to have is a studio policy - also known as a studio policy, studio agreement, or studio handbook.
A studio policy is absolutely necessary to set yourself up for a healthy and thriving studio. You want to designed it so that everyone on the same page in terms of expectations and ground rules. This will set up the student-teacher-parent dynamic for success and allows everyone to focus on music learning as opposed to the headache of rescheduling lessons.
More importantly, it prevents awkward situations such as chasing students for late lesson fees or being taken advantage of. Essentially, a studio policy is the terms and conditions for everyone to have a happy working relationship.
Here are some things would want to include in your studio handbook/policy to set yourself up for successful and avoid potential headaches.
Who are you? Introduce yourself!
It is definitely important to let potential students know who you are and what you can offer them. Begin your handbook or policy with some information about who you are, what your credentials are, your teaching philosophy, and how you will help your potential student achieve their musical goals.
This section is your chance to layout who your ideal student is and how they behave. It’s a great place for potential students to understand where the standards are and how to meet them to be successful in your studio, and as a musician.
Also consider that not everyone grew up with music lessons. Many people don’t know what to expect - so here is a great place to tell them.
Here are some things to consider putting on your studio handbook or policy.
how much practice time should they commit to see progress?
what equipment do they need?
what do they need to bring to lessons?
what type of practice environment do they need at home to succeed?
are parents allowed to sit in on lessons?
are recitals and exams required in your studio?
If you’re teaching in your home studio, you want consider how you expect students to enter/treat your home and behave before and after lessons.
do they need to park on the road, or can they use your drive way?
is there a waiting room for them? Where can they put their belongings?
If you have lessons back to back, do you need to tell them to enter the studio quietly?
how should parents drop off and pick up the kids? You’re not a day care service after all.
Is food or drinks allowed?
If you travel to student’s home to teach you might want to consider:
how you expect the environment to be set up (ex. have the piano placed in a quiet place conducive to learning)
Does the lesson begin when you enter the door or when you’re at the piano?
Do you expect the student to be set up and ready when you arrive?
What supplies do they need at the piano to help you teach (ex. You might be bringing all your tools, but you may want the student to have a functional metronome within reach)
What will happen when there is poor weather or traffic? How will you handle this situation?
This is going to be one of the first things a potential student is going to be searching for. In this section of your handbook or policy, you want to include
your rate per hour (or any time interval of your choice)
the length of the lessons you offer
the frequency of lessons
how you accept payment
when you accept payment
do you offer refunds? if so how? if not - what are alternative options for the student?
penalty for late fee submissions
It would be wise to lay out the payment policy as clearly as possible - so use bullet points or a chart.
Make Up Lesson Policy
If you choose to have a make up policy, this is the one of most important pages for you to be absolutely clear in what you consider to be a make up lesson and how you’ll go about it.
There will be students or parents of students that will try to bend the rules to benefit them. Thus, the studio policy is the first line of defence against this behaviour and also provides support for you when a rule bender is trying to lay down their tricks.
Here are some things you want to be absolutely clear about:
Under what circumstances will you offer make up lessons?
for example, my studio policy says that a make up lessons is given only if 24 hours of advanced notice is given AND there is room in the studio schedule for a make up to occur.
What do make up lessons look like and how do they work?
will they rescheduled? swapped with a student?
will it be online, asynchronous, in person?
What happens if they miss the make up lesson?
What happens if YOU need to cancel?
It is important that you are setting up your boundaries that allow you to show up happy to teach. For some teachers, they are juggling a full studio, kids, their kid’s schedule, household upkeep etc. That’s a lot! So a frequent rescheduler can be a headache and lose you money at the cost of your mental well being.
Bottom line is to set up clear boundaries for make up lessons and STICK TO IT!
Musician's Health Education and Awareness
Musician's health, awareness, and prevent begins with education. Whether it's informing your students or their parents, Musicians are athletes. Our students need to know how to take care of their body so they can develop healthy techniques and mindsets that keep them succeeding in creating the music they enjoy. Dr. Kensley Behel, a musician's health researcher and consultant, has a wonderful post and resource on this if you want to learn more!
This is a great place to let students know more about you, what you have to offer, and what sets you apart from other music teachers?
What are some features in your studio you can bring excitement to? - maybe you have 2 grand pianos or an extensive library?
What special skills or interests do you have? - ex. early childhood education,
Do you offer other services aside from practical lessons? ex. music theory, history, composition, improvisation, coaching, accompanying, ear training etc
How many recitals will you have?
Do you offer group lessons or masterclasses? If so, how will that work?
Your studio policy will change and grow with you and your ever evolving business. It doesn’t have to be set in stone! As you find your rhythm with owning your own music studio, you will start inserting little nuances and sections to your handbook that will help you run your business more effectively.
But! If you’re feel that making your studio policy is overwhelming, don’t worry! I’ve already gotten you started!
I have a 10 page customizable Canva Studio Policy template for you that is based off my own studio handbook/policy which lands me a new student right on the first meeting!
This template has :
- pre-written, Done for you excerpts
- prompts and guided passages designed to help you convert potential students into paying student
- helpful pages that I didn't cover in this blog post
- a customizable layout and colour scheme to fit your studio's aesthetic
- Musician's health and education awareness page
- basic enrolment form
The has work is laid out for you and all you have to do is customize the handbook/policy to suit your needs.
Hopefully my experience and this post will help set up your studio policy and avoid most of the issues I wish I knew about!
Hope this all helps! Happy Practicing!
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