Academic journal article Journal of Singing

Effective Strategies and Suggestions for Writing Your Studio Policy

Academic journal article Journal of Singing

Effective Strategies and Suggestions for Writing Your Studio Policy

Article excerpt

THE ROLE OF AN INDEPENDENT VOICE TEACHER requires one to have many written documents at hand. Independent teachers are constantly writing and editing their biographies and teaching philosophies, updating their websites and résumés-to name only a few. Throughout the years teaching privately from my home studio, I have found that one document held the most importance to me as an independent voice teacher: the studio policy. Why? For starters, a studio policy legitimizes your professional standards as a voice teacher, and acts as a contract clarifying the role of both the student and teacher. For purposes of this article, the term "client" will be used to describe both parent and student to simplify language, but also because caregivers come in many different forms (e.g., stepparents, grandparents, guardians, etc.).

Unfortunately, from time to time you will encounter people who do not view singing or voice teaching as a legitimate profession, who view music as a hobby or pastime, not necessarily as a career or profession that requires extensive training and study. An effective, well written studio policy will establish that you are a highly qualified, working professional. A clearly defined studio policy can set a high standard for your studio, meaning that clients will take music study seriously. Setting standards high will attract students who are willing to make a commitment to their music studies. Furthermore, establishing a studio policy will also detract those clients who may not respect your level of training and professionalism.

Moreover, an effective studio policy will help legitimize your business by keeping terms and expectations for your clients clear and organized. Having an established studio policy indicates an agreement between teacher and clients. Requiring clients to sign the studio policy demonstrates that they agree to your level of professionalism and that you both have the same standards set in place. Since many independent studio teachers teach out of their homes or travel to clients' homes, a studio policy is a good reminder that you are running a business.


Research the Standards

Before you begin, research the standards in your area. Since fees, philosophies, and standards can vary by region, reach out and network with other voice teachers in the area. Networking with colleagues is a great way not only to find support in your music community, but it can also provide opportunities for other area teachers to send prospective students your way. I also find that sharing studio policy with others is a great way to gather new ideas and to get a feel for the usual standards that are already in place in your region. If policies have similar standards, it increases professionalism for the music community where you reside. Even if you consider your area's standards to be too low, you can help "raise the bar" by establishing standards and policies that work for you. After consulting with your colleagues and sharing ideas, you can decide how flexible or how strict you would like to make your own policy.

Additionally, know that your policy does not have to be set in stone. You can always change the terms of the policy from time to time. If you feel the need to change the terms of your studio policy, simply send out a new policy to your clients, and have them submit a signed copy of the new policy. As a suggestion, you may want to designate semesters or sessions to coincide with the school year: fall semester, spring semester, and a summer session. Not only does dividing the year into three or four segments give clients flexibility in scheduling and commitment, but it also allows you to make changes as needed throughout the year.

Use Clear and Concise Language

To begin, make sure you use simple and clear statements, and also that your basic policies are easy to interpret and understand so that questions are kept at a minimum. If you are met with questions from multiple clients about part of the policy, it may be an indication that there needs to be more clarification on a certain subject. …

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