Simplify Your Studio – Charge a Materials Fee

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Do your students buy their own music? Do you wait weeks for them to actually order it? Do you buy it for them? Do you wait weeks for them to pay you back? Are you frustrated with the time and energy this takes from you?

The two best policy changes I ever made were moving to monthly tuition and implementing an annual Registration and Materials Fee. I charge a $50 fee that covers all books and materials for the entire year (excluding reeds, but including cane for our group reed making classes). Last year I used funds from this fee for:

And here are some additional (less obvious) things I did with the remaining funds:

  • I don’t have a set amount reserved for the “registration” portion of the fee. I estimate how much time I used buying books, tracking down parental signatures for my policy sheet, scheduling students, etc. Then I deducted that amount and called it the Registration Fee (usually about $20).
  • When a student dropped out midyear, I used the unused portion of the fee to pay myself for the weeks between his last lesson and the first lesson of his replacement. Students are aware that this fee is non-refundable.

I have found that if I put in some time to plan out a student’s required materials before the school year starts, I can stay well within my $50 per student budget. My students participate in four recitals per year. Music for all of those recitals could get expensive, but I have found ways around it. I use The Bassoon Archives and imslp.org a lot. I also provide a music lending library for my students to use. Theory materials are just pennies per student (find out about that here).

Parents are thrilled when they ask me how much a book is and I can remind them that they’ve already paid for it. I start reminding parents about the fee in June. It’s due the first week of September.

Give it a try. I have no regrets!

3 thoughts on “Simplify Your Studio – Charge a Materials Fee

  1. I have not had a very good idea about where to even start with pricing for a studio, so this is helpful! Good to hear some of your thoughts on simplifying, which also enables you to be sure that your students will always have what they need. Great!

  2. This is really helpful because I feel like if I did anything with bassoon other than performing it would be individual teaching. I never even thought of the financial aspects of things. This stuff is good to know!

  3. This is an easy, clear-cut policy and plan. I like it a lot. This is a great resource to me as I have not yet started my own studio yet.

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