I used to panic when summer hit. My students all assumed they had the summer off from piano lessons (as that was typical practice where I lived). While a few students were still interested in taking lessons during the summer, the drastic drop in income always took some adjusting and required me to budget throughout the year in order to accommodate the financial swing.
Six years later, I actually look forward to summer. While I still don’t teach full-time, I have worked my studio policy and studio offerings in such a way that allow me to spend less time in the studio and enjoy my summer a bit more, while also maintaining an income that is closer to my typical income during the school year. Here are some of the things I have implemented to help ease the financial stress of the summer months:
While I don’t require students to take weekly lessons in the summer, I do require a minimum number of lessons in order to hold their lesson spot for the fall. I require a minimum of five lessons during the summer months, but tell them that if they are unable to schedule five lessons or wish to take the summer off, then they can also choose to pay the cost of five lessons to ensure their spot. They typically sign up for lessons.
For the first time ever, I am offering a summer camp at my studio this year–and delighted that half of the students enrolled in lessons at my studio also signed up for the summer camp! I kept it simple since it is my first year, and am doing one week of camp with groups that meet daily for an hour during that week.
My daughter’s dance studio also offers summer camps and they are wildly popular and fill quickly. They meet once during the week for a month, and have a short performance at an outdoor stage at our local farmer’s market. All the summer camp participants are also able to march with their class in the local summer parade.
Even with a summer camp and a smattering of lessons, I still have more free time than when I am teaching during the regular school year. Last summer, I spent the extra time I had writing a series of articles that was published in a local parenting magazine during the school year, which allowed me an opportunity to advertise in their magazine for free and grow my studio tremendously. This summer, I plan on working on my certification with the Music Teachers National Association. Working through the projects to become a Nationally Certified Teacher of Music is helping me to really think through my studio, studio policy, and teaching practices and learn and grow from the experience. I also like being able to tell my students and their families that I am continuing to develop professionally, and will eventually raise my rates a little when I achieve certification status.