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#20142 - 05/08/05 11:52 PM charging for books and sheet music
Carolyne Offline
New Member

Registered: 03/08/05
Posts: 1
Loc: Houston
I have a monthly fee for lessons, but sometimes find that I am short changed when it comes to people paying for books and sheet music. Any suggestions? Parents write a check for the lessons and forget to add the books.Thanks for any help you can offer. Carolyne

#20143 - 05/09/05 03:08 AM Re: charging for books and sheet music
GeeTee Offline
Resident Member

Registered: 12/26/01
Posts: 391
Loc: Midwest
Carolyne, I usually order new materials for my students, and when they come in, I write out a sales invoice (w carbon copy) and staple it right onto the front cover of the book or sheet. Seeing this slip serves to remind the student to give it to mom or dad. If payment doesn't come by the next lesson, I write (and hi-light) a reminder on the student's assignment sheet along with a reminder of the late fee that will be charged if payment is not made by next lesson. If this does happen to be the case next week, I write out a new invoice including the late fee, and then I send this directly to the parents via the mail.

I've only got one family that tends to be a little slow about payments, but it's prob. due to the fact that the student has ADHD and rarely opens his binder to the week's assignment page (to see the written reminder). The mom seems a bit scattered as well, but after a few late fee charges, things got better.

For a situation where payment is always an issue, I would consider:

1. Arrange with the parents that they will themselves either have to order the music (and if they fail to do so and the student is without his new materials, then the lesson may be forfeited). OR

2. Order the music well in advance, and notify the parent of the charge ahead of time and let them know that the materials will not be given to the student until payment is made. Then, if the next lesson depends on these new materials, and payment is not made, the lesson may again be forfeited.

A few times when the child goes home and tells mom that he didn't have a lesson cause the new books weren't either brought or paid for, the parent may get with the program.

I know this may sound harsh, but with some folks, you just have to be tough.

Good luck

#20144 - 05/09/05 03:23 AM Re: charging for books and sheet music
PFVTeach Offline
Resident Member

Registered: 09/17/04
Posts: 481
Loc: USA
I just let the parents know the week that the student gets materials that they have new books or sheets this week and the total is on their receipt which I attached to the materials the student has.
Parents I have know that they can either pay me that week or within 7 days of the materials being given to them- which means at the next lesson or by mail before if they forget a check book or don't have the cash on them. Most of mine are pretty good though about paying up on time for books/materials.

#20145 - 05/09/05 04:21 AM Re: charging for books and sheet music
ABA Offline
Regular Member

Registered: 02/21/05
Posts: 50
Loc: Nashville
"I have a monthly fee for lessons, but sometimes find that I am short changed when it comes to people paying for books and sheet music. Any suggestions? Parents write a check for the lessons and forget to add the books.Thanks for any help you can offer. Carolyne "

This may not help you on existing students, but I know some teachers who "roll" the cost of materials into the same fee for lessons. You have to calculate this very carefully and also make sure it doesn't make the overall lesson charge too much. Usually thier approach is that the the total cost also includes materials. It is a simple solution that if priced right, you end up not ever being short changed or having to exlain and/or bill for the addtional cost and eliminates tedious dealings with the parent over such issues.
Bear in mind it is a realistic estimate, based on materials you have supplied the students with in the past.

I know some teachers who do this by simply adding an extra $1 - $10 to the teaching cost per lesson. So in your case it would be more for a monthly fee. And this seems to generally solve the problem.

#20146 - 05/09/05 04:45 AM Re: charging for books and sheet music
Gail Offline
Resident Member

Registered: 09/04/04
Posts: 369
Loc: Alpharetta, GA
Some teachers also charge a "materials fee" at the beginning of the year (say, $25 or so) to cover books and materials through at least the first half of the year. Any extra is credited toward the second half of the year and overage is billed with the next month's tuition. If you could come up with an average, you could charge that for your materials fee. For me, beginners' materials are usually more because they go through more books; then by the third year or so, they are only getting through 1 set of books in a year. Depends on how much they practice and can "pass off" in a lesson.

#20147 - 05/09/05 05:34 AM Re: charging for books and sheet music
beth ann Offline
Resident Member

Registered: 04/06/05
Posts: 105
Loc: midwest
I may be making too much work for myself, but I print a monthly statement for each student. They receive it at the last lesson of the month. Usually it just has the monthly charge on it, but if I need to add materials, I can just put it on there and add it to the total. I also leave a nice big space to tell them about upcoming group lessons, events, or what books they are receiving and why. So far, it works pretty well, especially because many parents forget how quickly a month goes by.

#20148 - 05/09/05 06:40 AM Re: charging for books and sheet music
Whitney Offline
Resident Member

Registered: 11/21/04
Posts: 139
Loc: California
I know it might sound crazy but I do all my billing by mail. I didn't want to do it at first because I'm so frugal and I couldn't stand the thought of paying so much for stamps, but I will never go back. I add books, recital fees, late fees, etc. on the invoice and mail it on the 20th of each month along with any special announcements. Payments are due on the 5th of each month (they pay about one month ahead). I also make a note on my policy and on the invoice that any questions regarding payments can be addressed to my husband. Works like a dream! He's only had to address one question this whole year.

Usually there are no discussions about money at the studio and this frees me up to just focus on teaching. I always used to hate asking kids to remind their parents about the check. It made me SO uncomfortable.

#20149 - 05/09/05 06:59 AM Re: charging for books and sheet music
alidoremi Offline
Star Member

Registered: 03/11/02
Posts: 2120
Loc: California
I charge a $50-$60 materials fee per year. It's due the end of May for the coming school year. It's non-refundable and also acts as a deposit for the student's Fall time slot. During the summer I spend a lot of time deciding repertoire and goals for the each student for the coming year. I make a list of all the books and supplies I'll need and purchase most of them before lessons even start up in Fall. I go to my state Convention and get great deals on books there (some publishers at 40-50% off). The materials fee also covers any awards/trophies I might hand out, composer statuettes, stickers, pencils, and other incidentals given to the student during the year.

I will NEVER go back to billing parents as materials are bought. I don't like being out the $$ and then trying to collect. And parents don't mind paying out a once yearly fee; they know they won't be charged anything other than monthly tuition.

#20150 - 05/09/05 07:03 AM Re: charging for books and sheet music
Lilla Offline
Star Member

Registered: 10/30/00
Posts: 1573
Loc: Chicago
This falls under the "Best Things I Ever Did" category - but it is not new to plenty of teachers here. Last fall I also started collecting an annual materials fee of $50. I averaged out what is spent on each student over the year, plus gifts and novelties for group classes, plus recital expenses to come up with the $number. Not one parent complained. I gave them 30 days to pay. The notice goes out 9/15 - and they have from Oct. 1 to Oct. 31 to pay up. I sent out only one reminder notice last year. It has taken away an enormous headache, including almost a year where I was just lazy and didn't keep good enough records to charge for all the materials I handed out. I think the parents also like not having to worry about owing extra for books. The only expense that isn't included is Festival fees, and that's so they hopefully take that challenge more seriously.

#20151 - 05/09/05 07:36 AM Re: charging for books and sheet music
Arlene Steffen Offline
Star Member

Registered: 06/20/00
Posts: 2972
Loc: Fresno, CA USA
I averaged the cost of materials at about $40/student/year and just rolled it into the tuition. I pay for all books except assignment books and theory books. Then, if I use something that ends up not working too well, I don't feel bad about taking it back and trying something else.

This also allows me to have a large lending library with money available to replace lost/worn things.

For theory and assignment books, I call the music store and have them hold the materials under my student's name. That way, there is no confusion about what they are supposed to buy. You do have to give about 2 weeks lead time, though, so that they have time to get it (or if they forget to get it!).

It has saved me a ton of bookkeeping and I can deduct the cost of the books on my taxes as the students don't actually own the materials. If they use a book that they really love and want to keep, they go buy it themselves. The parents love that their piano bench doesn't end up full of method materials that the kids have outgrown.

It's my way of recycling!

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