In Defense of Summer Lessons
One of the most common questions I get from new and experienced teachers alike is, "Should I teach through the summer?"
We all know the arguments AGAINST teaching throughout the summertime. Students are traveling, they don't show, you need vacation time, you don't want to.
These are all legitimate concerns. Students do travel and often, when they are in town, they don't show for their lessons because they are busy at the swimming pool or at the summer movie marathon. You need vacation time, and yes, you are probably tired and don't even want to give lessons.
But, here's a question for you: can you actually afford to NOT give piano lessons? Can you afford to take the time off?
Also, how does that affect the momentum of your studio? Do your students ALL eagerly return or are some so used to no lessons that they just slip into oblivion?
How about the students themselves? Do they backtrack in their skills and talents? Do you have to spend the first month back in the Fall just reviewing in order to get them back up to speed?
My dear Piano Teacher Friends, there is a solution to all of these problems:
Teach during the summer.
Here's why and here's how.
You SHOULD teach through the summer, first and foremost, for your sake. I don't know how many of you are independently wealthy that you are just doing this for fun, but if you are like me, your family actually needs your income. To take three months off just because your clients might be a little busy is risky for your finances.
Think about it: most school districts give their teachers the option to spread out their pay over a 12 month period instead of just the 9 months. Why? Because they know that most adults cannot afford to just not get paid for three solid months.
If it is possible (and it is!), you should give lessons throughout the summer to protect your income. If you don't protect your income by giving lessons during the summer, you only have two other options:
1. Completely lose three months of income (um, bad idea)
2. Raise your rates high enough during the school year to set some aside to cover you in the summer. (um, another bad idea)
Later in this blog post we will establish HOW you do this, but trust me, it can be done!
Secondly, you should teach in summer for your student's sake. Just like kids mysteriously lose math facts during the summer, they do the same with their scales, technique abilities, and the knowledge of things as simple as finger numbers (don't laugh, you know I'm right!)
Even if you can't get them there for 10 consecutive lessons, wouldn't even two lessons each month during summer be better than nothing? Wouldn't they stand a much better chance of retaining information and keeping their skills sharp if they saw you a handful of times during the summer?
So, for their sake, for the sake of their skills, for the sake of their love for music, summer piano lessons are crucial. Starting and stopping is incredibly difficult and those headaches can be easily avoided by continuing lessons throughout the summer.
Finally, you should teach in summer for the sake of maintaining momentum in your studio. I'm sure your students love you and enjoy their lessons. You don't want to lost that, right? When you maintain lessons throughout the summer, piano becomes something they do. Not something they used to do and might do again in the Fall.
Keeping consistency in your piano lessons, in your studio, goes a long ways toward holding on to your clients and building your future clientele. Plus, believe it or not, your studio can actually gain more students in the summer, but only if you are open for business. Close up shop, and you lose those potential clients. (I can prove this -- this summer, from June 1 - July 14, I've gained 3 private students and 1 student for my preschool class -- staying "open" is worth it!)
So, hopefully I have convinced you that you should give lessons during the summer, but I'm sure there is some point in your mind that is arguing back: but how? Trust me, I've got a great game plan for you to keep giving lessons during the summer . . . (coming in tomorrow's blog post, so keep reading)
Give lessons during the summer. Trust me, you will be glad you did.