Simpler = Better

Well, maybe not always, but certainly when you're trying to run a business on the side without too many headaches.  Here are three policies I've adopted recently, which have helped my piano lessons to run more smoothly:

1) Make payments simple. After years of calendar headaches, I now plan out the school year so that there are 9 months in the year and 36 lessons.  (Some months have more than four weeks; some have fewer, because of holidays when I don't teach.)  At the beginning of each month, families pay me for four lessons.  They always forget how much they owe me, but now I can tell them immediately, because it never changes.

2) Keep your calendar in front of you. I started doing this one summer, when lesson times were so erratic I had trouble keeping track: I just printed and copied my weekly schedule so I could change it at a glance.  Now I do it during the fall and spring, too.  It makes it easier if someone says they'll be gone the following week, and I have one designated place to keep notes if someone calls and wants to change times.

3) Review. Since I can never remember when I have last heard a piece, I recently made a rule that I will hear every piece in every student's repertoire at the first lesson of the month.  This reduces the chance that a piece will slip away because I've forgotten to ask for it.  Musically, of course, review is one of the best ways to encourage a student; it shows her how much she's accomplished.

You know a system is good when you're constantly asking yourself, "WHY didn't I do this sooner?!"  Well, at least I'm doing it now!