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Studio Policies (Read 1752 times)

Offline jgallag

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Studio Policies
« on: December 10, 2017, 03:05:59 PM »
I'm curious to know about other teachers' studio policies. I'm currently revising mine in order to begin building the materials for the NCTM application, and I remembered something: A few years ago, a friend of mine showed me her studio policy, and it was just one page! I thought, "You have to be kidding! There's nothing in here!" And then it occurred to me that perhaps the exact reason parents don't actually read them is because they are several pages long. I looked through mine and saw things like:

- a list of materials that students never buy or bring anyways and I don't actually care about enforcing
- names of stores to get new music at (everyone just goes to Amazon anyways)
- the name of a piano tuner (most of them have digitals, plus I can just give out the name as needed)
- practice expectations (hah!)

Also, things were written out in complete sentences and paragraphs. This really balloons out the documents. I thought bullet points could suffice nicely in many cases.

I'm curious to hear what you believe is actually essential in a studio policy. Bare bones, simple, easy to understand, but gives you the protection to teach to the best of your ability.

Offline keypeg

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Re: Studio Policies
«Reply #1 on: December 10, 2017, 08:04:24 PM »
When I first joined piano forums, studio policies were being discussed.  I saw large, intimidating documents that would have scared me away from the studio.  I saw defensive posturing meant for the exceptions who abuse the system in various ways, but being addressed to all students and parents.  Some of these writs almost seemed hostile.  In addition, people don't read long documents as you say.

I am a trained teacher but work in another field as a freelance professional.  There are policies that you need to have, so that when a situation comes up, you will know what action you are going to take.  But if you write pages of fine print, you turn off your good customers, scaring away some of them, while it's water off a duck's back to hardened charlatans.

Offline j_tour

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Re: Studio Policies
«Reply #2 on: April 18, 2018, 01:05:35 AM »

I thought this would be about recording studios -- the answer to that is you're renting their studio, and they like to help, create a nice vibe.  (See TapeOp magazine for multiple examples).

No, I've only ever taught except out of my house, so can't help you.

Although, I'd shy away from having too many "rules and regulations" as policy -- as long as they pay their money, it's 100% customer service.  Hell, let them bring their own beer in, as far as I'm concerned.  

Few if any of them are going to be ideal, prize students competing at vCliburn -- I recommend just being chill.

And yeah, they need to buy their own books and if they're children, have a fresh pair of Pull-Ups.  I never taught kids, so that never came up.  :)
My name is Nellie, and I take pride in helping protect the children of my community through active leadership roles in my local church and in the Boy Scouts of America.  Bad word make me sad.

Offline quantum

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Re: Studio Policies
«Reply #3 on: April 19, 2018, 06:43:17 AM »
One thing you could do is have two versions of your policy: a plain English human friendly brief summary, and the detailed legal document.  The summary outlines the salient points and is most likely to be read by the student/parent.  You also remind your student that the full document exists and is the reference if a situation comes up. 

Creative Commons does something similar to their licenses.  Here is an example:

Made a Liszt. Need new Handel's for Soler panel & Alkan foil. Will Faure Stein on the way to pick up Mendels' sohn. Josquin get Wolfgangs Schu with Clara. Gone Chopin, I'll be Bach

Offline Bob

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Re: Studio Policies
«Reply #4 on: April 19, 2018, 09:16:34 AM »
I'd keep the policy geared toward payment and scheduling.  Things like where to buy music and who you could hire to tune a piano are just suggestions.  Great, if it fits, it's not really a policy.

The people who follow it won't need the sheet so much.  They'll do whatever you say any way.  The people who don't follow it, won't follow it no matter how detailed and obvious it is.  Those people probably won't read it any way.

To keep it concise, you don't have to spell everything out.  People know.  ex. If it's a group classroom, for students, you just have a rule about being respectful (or even just one word, respect).  That saves a lot of more specific rules which all fall under respect.  And it gives you more options for 'interpreting' what respect means.  For a studio policies it's dealing with adults so you can't flex the interpretation too much.

Ditto on keeping it short, to a page.  No one's going to read it.  What it will come down to is a battle of wills at some point.  Someone doesn't pay a couple times?  Then they lose their scheduled spot, and that was in the policy they were informed of when they first signed up for lessons.  That type of thing.  It can be losing a student/parent at that point, but it's not something I'd argue about. 

Broadly, if it's a policy, it has to actually be enforced for everyone in real life.  You can't enforce it for some and not others.  Otherwise you leave yourself open to criticism/favoritism accusations there.

At some point, you'll probably run into someone who has a different idea of lessons.  Eventually that student will leave any way.  The policy is just going to be a tool that will help weed them out sooner, either them realizing it or you having to push them away while noting that they were informed in advance.  You can break your own policy and bend to them but it ends up being extra work, sinking more time into something that probably isn't moving in a direction you want any way. 
Favorite new teacher quote -- "You found the only possible wrong answer."