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How to Set Up Your Lesson Schedule

My student Dave was a busy surgeon with a family of three kids.

 

Wisely, he wanted to make some time to invest in his own development. Music lessons and piano practice were a good way for him to unwind after busy days of helping others.

 

His schedule was unique in that he had a free afternoon every Monday. So we had an early lesson from 2-3 PM, before my rush of students after school.

 

It worked well for both of us. He could pick his kids up once we were done, and I could get a head start on teaching before school was over.

 

This was an ideal lesson schedule for both of us.

 

How to Set Up Your Lesson Schedule

Once you have determined how much to charge, begin to set up an ideal lesson schedule.

First, decide how many hours you want to spend actually teaching each week. Be sure to leave time for administrative responsibilities, as discussed in our blog here. (Coming soon!)

A practical guideline is to reserve 10-25% of the total time you spend teaching for administrative responsibilities. So, if you want to teach 10 hours per week, allow about 2 additional hours for the non-teaching responsibilities that come with running a thriving studio.

For example:

  • Emailing parents
  • Scheduling make-up lessons
  • Arranging recital details
  • Marketing
  • Updating your website
  • Facebook Posts
  • Reading StartMyStudio.com Blogs

Think about your weekly schedule. The first step is to determine what hours you can dedicate to teaching.

Here is a sample schedule. The gray areas represent popular teaching times. The white boxes are usually not as common due to school schedules of most children.

Lesson schedule times
Note that this schedule allows for 43 hours of teaching lessons. It’s rare that a teacher would fill up this amount of time in private lessons alone. We’ve found that most teachers consider 40 students to be full-time, especially considering the administrative time required for that many students. Teaching 40 students comes out to an average of about 30 hours of actual teaching time, with 10 hours available for administrative responsibilities.

TRY THIS TIP: As you think through your week, fill in the boxes based on your current schedule. Keep this handy for when students call or email asking for a lesson time.

Lesson schedule filled in


Lesson Schedule: Music Lessons on Weekdays

School-age Students

Remember, most people coming for lessons will be school-age students, available only between 3-8 PM.

So with this age group, the maximum time available each day is usually about 5 hours. To get even more students in your schedule, you could also teach lessons before school, for example, from 7-8:30 AM, and then have about 6 hours per day for school-age kids. This works especially well if you live near a school, and a good location like that will be really appealing to parents.

An exception to this time frame is the home-schooled student. One of the benefits of homeschooling is that the kids have a lot of flexibility. If you can reach out to the homeschool community, you can fill up more of your daytime hours when they can take lessons.

We have attended fairs and events that help homeschooling parents enhance their schedules with extracurricular activities. If you want to free up your evening hours, finding ways to teach during the day is a great idea. A well-designed marketing strategy targeting homeschool families can fill up your daytime hours quickly!

Adult Students

Adult students can have a variety of schedules and tend to have different needs than children and teens. Adult music students usually fit into 3 categories.

The Retiree Looking to Grow

This is someone who may have been involved in music as a child and wants to pick it back up again. Or perhaps music-making is a goal they have always put off, and now have the free time to invest in it. Either way, retirees tend to have flexible schedules and can be available during the day, giving you some more teaching hours before 3 PM.

The Busy Adult Who Needs “Me Time”

Some adults are busy with demanding professions or are stay-at-home parents (with the most demanding profession!). Like my student Dave from the beginning of this chapter, the market for adult students is wonderful. They take lessons very seriously, since they have to work hard to make time for this specific pursuit.

The Young Adult Looking for Community

Once in a while, you will come across a young adult who is looking to start a unique hobby or get involved with a different community. This person might be interested in broadening past music skills or trying something that is totally new.

I once taught a 26-year-old chemistry professor who had just moved to the area. He taught classes every day except Wednesdays, so we could fit him in Wednesdays from 1-2 PM.

Lesson Schedule: Music Lessons on Weekends

Are you interested in teaching on the weekends? If so, you can add a lot of teaching hours. Saturday mornings are especially popular. Families tend to appreciate when teachers make this time available, as they can include music lessons in their Saturday morning routine.

We should point out that weekend lessons do come with some strings attached. (Insert violin pun here.) Due to the busyness of Saturdays, expect more cancellations. Think carefully about the attendance policy for weekend lessons. Often, teachers are more flexible with make-up lessons for Saturday and Sunday schedules. No matter what you choose, be sure to communicate your attendance policy clearly upfront, verbally and in writing.

See this blog post for more information on attendance policies. (Coming soon!)

Also, remember that teaching Saturday morning limits your weekend social time as well. This year we’re phasing out Saturday lessons because we have been running into so many conflicts with our own kids’ activities.

Creating Your Ideal Lesson Schedule

In the early days of setting up your studio, you want to take as many students as possible and fit them in wherever you can.

Try to keep lessons in blocks of time close together to avoid gaps in between students. If you do have gaps, fill the time with studio administration, like scheduling, accounting, marketing, or planning. Also, be sure to always keep your schedule nearby so you can book new students right away when they call or email.

Taking Time Off

No matter how many students you want, remember to schedule some time off for yourself.

Most people burn out when they work 7 days a week. Be sure to take at least a day off each week for rest and refreshment. This will help you be a better teacher when you do get back to work.

Final Thoughts

Remember, growth happens exponentially. You may have a slow start at first, but once your name gets out, you’ll get increasingly more business.

We found it took about 2 years to settle into each location. It took us this long to get a reputation in the community and really start filling up the list of new students. This may be hard to hear for teachers getting started, but it was our experience and seems fairly typical.

But don’t be discouraged—every company starts somewhere, and most have modest beginnings. This should be motivation to get started, the sooner the better!

One of the huge advantages you have when growing your studio is that you have the material in this blog. When you work hard to apply the tips found here, your schedule should fill up quickly. Having a packed teaching schedule is a good thing!

What tips do you have for determining a lesson schedule? Send us a message to let us know!

Be sure to Like Start My Studio on Facebook for access to high-quality resources and valuable information. Thanks for reading!

 

 

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