Every-other-week Lessons

every-other-week music lessons - advice for teachersThis post is about the dreaded every-other-week lesson schedule. I don’t like to put students on this schedule. I try to avoid it at all costs, unless the cost is that the student will have no lessons. Every-other-week lessons are better than no lessons, obviously, so these are the measures I have put into place to make the most of a bad situation.

When do I consider a student for every-other-week lessons?

I will only let a student go on an every-other-week schedule if they either:

  • Live far away from me and the commute is prohibitive
  • Have legitimate financial restrictions (although I will offer scholarships to these students if they are serious bassoonists)
  • Have family situations that prohibit weekly lessons (i.e. shared custody situations)
  • or if I have an opening in my schedule and no other student to fill it

I never suggest a student go on the every-other-week plan. I always wait for a parent to bring it up. Unfortunately, they often do.

How do I schedule every-other-week lessons?

When a new school year begins, I allow all of my every-week students to claim their time-slots first. I then offer any remaining time slots to students who have expressed interest in every-other-week lessons.

If I have one every-other-week student, then I have really have two. I will only allow students to go on this schedule if there is another student who can come on the opposite weeks. I let both of these families know that if I get a call from a new family, I may offer their time slot to the new every-week student. So far I haven’t had to act on this, but now that my studio is full, I may have to.

During the 2015-2016 school year I tried a modified every-other-week schedule. Instead of alternating every week, I scheduled one student for the 1st and 3rd weeks of the month and the other student on the 2nd and 4th weeks. In the event that there was a 5th week, I got a week off (or used it for makeup lessons). So far, this has been my favorite way to schedule these types of lessons.

For the 2016-2017 school year, my studio is completely full with every week students. I have a couple of students that I don’t want to fall by the wayside, so I’m offering them any extra spots that come up. I do this through youcanbook.me (read my review). If I have weekly students cancel or I find that I have some other unexpected times available, these other students can sign up for them online and they are automatically added to me calendar.

What do I charge for every-other-week (or bi-monthly) lessons?

I charge every-other-week students more per hour than my weekly students. I figure that the boost in pay I get from this situation slightly alleviates the frustration associated with it. The way my tuition schedule is set up currently, my every-other-week students pay about $2.50 more per hour than my weekly students do. Technically, it’s $.04/minute more. I will be increasing that margin this next September when I give myself my yearly raise.

The increased tuition also helps offset the higher costs associated with bookkeeping, recitals, reed classes, and so on. I still charge each student the full materials fee for the year.

Do I assign one or two weeks’ worth of material?

It all depends on the student. If the student is motivated, I will assign about 80% of what I would normally assign over two weeks for a weekly student. I find that if I assign 100% of what I would normally assign, we can’t get through all of it in the lesson. I make it a priority to hear everything that the student has practiced. For students who are less motivated, I assign one week’s worth of material for them to work on over the weeks between their lessons.

I still expect every-other-week students to participate in all of my recitals (usually four per year). This means that we usually work through their Weissenborn/method book slower than half speed because we are spending time on their repertoire. I also assign them rep that is easier than I would otherwise assign.

I started using the PDF files available at www.musicandthebassoon.org (read my review) instead of Weissenborn for a couple of my every-other-week students. I like that they can get online and listen to good bassoon playing and watch instructional videos during the weeks they don’t meet with me. One of my students has really taken to this–the other one, not so much.

What else would you like to know?

If you have more questions about every-other-week students, please leave them in the comments below. I’m happy to respond to all comments and revise this post as your questions come in.

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