This week was a “get back to teaching” week; no conflicts with orchestra, no other issues. And four students cancel. Wouldn’t you know? This career of mine isn’t exactly predictable. Many private music instructors charge by the month and if a student cancels they either end up paying for nothing or, if they cancel in a timely way, they schedule a make up lesson. I haven’t done this because I really don’t want to “owe” my students a lesson should it by that I am the one who has to cancel. (I never have to cancel at the last minute unless it’s due to illness, so my students get my cancellations in a timely manner.) I get the majority of theirs that way, but this week was a bit off for that. And while my policies say I do charge if I don’t receive 24 hours’ notice unless the absence is due to illness or emergency, I rarely do so. I just hate doing that to people. But I do wonder sometimes … perhaps I should charge by the month so at least I know how my budget will be for the month. Hmmm. I wonder.

Then again, I just hate owing lessons to students, and my schedule doesn’t easily allow for make up lessons.

Meanwhile… with the extra time I had (MUST make use of free time, after all!), I decided to attempt to remove the wallpaper from our living room.

Bad idea.

My hands clearly aren’t happy with the job, nor is my back. (Using a spray bottle can really do a number on one’s hands after a while. So after doing a bit of work on the stuff, I called for help. Today I get an estimate. I usually do things myself; I hate paying out money for a job I should be doing. But this time I think I’ll opt for a professional’s help and blame it on Oboe Hands.

Painting by Kelsey Layos (yes, these are my hands)


  1. David had the same 24-hours’ notice policy, and also was not holding people to it. Then last fall, lots of people started taking advantage of it. One person even text messaged him at 11:00pm the night before that she wouldn’t be able to come to her lesson in the morning because she had something else to go to (can’t remember the details, but clearly it was planned in advance). So I made him call her back and charge her.

    He was toying with the idea of having people pay by the month, but same thing, he didn’t want to have to try to schedule make-ups for everyone if he had to cancel on his end.

    Now he holds everyone to that policy, and he can stick to his projected budget for the month. What’s more, people have stopped canceling at the last minute! Oh well, he has more students than anyone I know who is a teacher would ever wish upon themselves (40!) so he has to run a tight ship, or it all falls apart.

    Martha Elspas always had us pay by the month, but at the end of the month. Hmm

  2. Yikes … 40 students?! Are they all hour long lessons? That would be quite something. I currently have 16 students, but it feels like fewer because so many don’t show up very often.

    Maybe it’s just time to drop students who don’t come but once a month. I wonder. (But I really hate dropping students … oh … wait … how would I know? I’ve never dropped one. Hmm.)

    I wouldn’t want to do end of the month payment. I do trust my students, but that would make me uncomfortable.

  3. AND … wait for it … another student just had to cancel today. Sigh. She’s a really good student, and of course I’ll excuse it because of the circumstances, but this week has turned into a horrible week income-wise. Sigh.

  4. Pingback: “And another one gone, and another one gone… at oboeinsight

  5. Oh Patty, that is just so annoying when students are flakey (not that ALL of yours are!) One thing you might try is charging by the month (and that means paying IN ADVANCE – I’ve never heard of anyone waiting til the lessons are over to get paid for a whole month!). IF a student cancels in a timely manner, you can just give them a week of credit for the next month. Or if you have to cancel for some reason (after they’ve paid). I would have some verbage in your lesson agreement that if a student quits they loose any extra lessons that may have accumulated so you don’t end up owing money! Or they could opt for make up lessons if you have the time. This has worked for me but I only have 4-5 students at a time so it’s pretty easy to keep track.