Are your piano studio policies ready for an update that includes COVID-19?
No matter where you are, COVID-19 is having an impact on everything you do as a piano teacher. It now seems this virus will be here longer-term than we may originally have thought.
If your policies don’t yet have COVID-19 protocols and policies in writing, you may want to implement them by announcing a mid-year policy update. Apple makes little incremental updates all the time! Why can’t piano teachers?
In fact, it might be judicious to have a clause in our studio policies that states, “From time to time I make mid-year policy updates. When you are notified of these small changes, my policy overall will be amended. Please be assured that these changes are designed to help my studio run smoothly and to allow me to provide the highest quality of piano lessons possible.”
This year I did a major overhaul of my policies, studio design and schedule to accommodate changes necessary to adapt to COVID-19. I thought you, my fellow teachers, might like to take a peek into the changes I’ve made.
If you like my ideas, feel free to borrow them!
1. Individual in-lesson student supplies
Policy update: Students will not share any materials in the studio.
I’ve created individual student bags of supplies for use in the studio to avoid sharing.
Each bag contains a lead pencil, an eraser, a set of coloured pencils and a set of plastic rhythm cups. I’ve also placed little rhythm and learning cards in my youngest students’ bags.
I had fun making these with simple brown bags, little music sticky notes and ribbons I’d been collecting.
2. Supplies for online lessons
Policy update: Students are provided a package of supplies for online lessons.
Each family unit has also been provided with a home student care package that consists of lesson essentials like stickers and flash cards. I provided home bags even for students who are primarily in person, just in case there is an occasional lesson online or in case we need to switch completely to online lessons.
To keep costs down, I asked families to provide their own pencils, erasers and coloured pencils at home, thinking they’d have these items on hand.
Piano Handbook update
My policies are delivered to families for easy reference in my DIY studio Piano Handbook/Piano Playbook. If you’d like to know more about it, click the link below for a post dedicated to the topic.
In this section I’m going to highlight the additions I’ve made to my Handbook policies to make this year’s new COVID-19 updates clear for my studio families.
1. In-studio lessons: COVID-19 Checklist
Policy update: Attend in-person lessons only if you have no COVID-19 symptoms. If the student, teacher or anyone in either home has any symptoms, the lesson will be moved online.
On page 2 of my Handbook I added this handy professionally-designed COVID-19 daily checklist. By including this, I’m sending a message to my students’ families to do a health check prior to each in-studio lesson, and to attend in person only if they’re well. I, too, adhere to this policy.
I’ve also placed the checklist at my studio entrance as a last-minute failsafe. The idea is that with a sniffle, cough or slight symptoms, a lesson can be moved online.
If you’d like to use this page, too, it’s free to download! Get the COVID-19 Daily Checklist!
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2. Protocol update for In-studio Lessons
Protocol update: Please text and wait to be admitted, wear a mask into the porch and refrain from touching surfaces in the entrance.
On page 3, I’ve outlined how different things are this year in the waiting room. Here’s the wording:
- Parking and Waiting — Parents may park in the driveway or on the street in front of the house. Please wait in your vehicle and text me upon arrival at [mobile number included]. I’ll reply when I’m ready to meet you at my back door for the safe arrival and departure of the students. Parents will be required to meet me outside the door to pick up very young children.
- COVID-19 Entrance Protocol — Please wait outside the side entrance. Students won’t touch door handles or surfaces in the entrance; students will wear masks in the entrance.
- Hygiene — In the entrance the student and teacher will both sanitize hands; if you’re unwell, please have a lesson online; if there’s an unexpected sneeze in the lesson, please sneeze into your elbow or shoulder.
- Bathroom — Please ensure that your child has used the washroom prior to the lesson. If your child has a medical condition and needs frequent access to a bathroom, please opt for an online lesson. It is my hope that students won’t need to use my washroom this year, for the sake of my family.
3. New studio design for distancing
Updated studio design: The teacher and student will remain at a distance and play different instruments. Masks will be used for close-up instructional moments.
My studio is rearranged with the piano and keyboard side-by-side. To maintain the proper recommended distance, I will teach from my piano while the student learns at the keyboard.
Hanging between the instruments is a transparent mylar sneeze guard. While distanced, masks will not be required. Should I need to approach the student for the purpose of teaching, both will wear masks. Singing will not be possible in our in-studio lessons.
Want to read more about my updated studio design and layout? This post includes photos on the affordable mylar sneeze guard and links to professionally-designed signs.
4. Online Lessons: New readiness protocols
Protocol update: Prior to the start of any online lesson, please be ready early with all materials.
On page 3 of my Piano Handbook, I have printed a checklist to help families be prepared for their online lessons on time. In short, here’s what it says:
- A day before your lesson…. Send a photo of your last assignment sheet with the week’s practice times filled in.
- An hour before the lesson…. Charge device, find all music books; find a pencil and eraser; check that you’ve clipped your finger nails.
- 10 minutes before your lesson…. Make sure you’ve used the washroom; remind other members of your family to finish up any streaming activities; be ready at your instrument (with your parent helper if you have one); set up your device; get this week’s stickers out.
- Two minutes before your lesson begins…. Click the link provided; in case of “time creep” (i.e. the schedule is running a little later than planned), warm up by playing until the teacher begins the session.
From new entrance and exit protocols to a new policy on individual student supplies, from a completely new floor plan to a policy on sniffles and online lessons, you can see the measures I’ve taken this year to ensure as safe an environment as I can in my studio for myself and my students.
If it’s time for you to update your written policies to accommodate COVID-19, now’s the time!
Have you implemented any additional policies in your studio? Please feel free to share in the comments!
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I appreciate shares, comments and likes. Happy teaching! ❤
Video of the Week
Yellow Boots (Intermediate, Level 4), a delightful little swing piece that sounds like splashing in puddles of sunshine! From the print and eBook The Color Collection, Early to Late Intermediate Piano Solos. Or, check out the Yellow Boots eSheet!
I’m wondering how you would deal with the following situation.
Students who turn up to school with obvious symptoms of a cold , when the piano lesson is given at school!
They can’t do an online lesson at their scheduled time because they have attended school but I refuse to have them in my small school studio!
They shouldn’t even be at school but the parent expects a makeup because I chose not to give the lesson!
I think they should stay home and have an online lesson!
I’m just not sure how to word this in a policy!
Mary , Australia
Hi, Mary, this is a good question! Are your policies set by the school or by your own studio? If you set your own, it sounds like your policies need an update! I’d include statements like the following: “1) Your studio is independent of the school. 2) Due the small size of the piano studio in which distancing is not an option, the teacher reserves the right to have a very strict policy on any symptoms related to COVID-19, including [add the list from the WHO here]. Children who have these symptoms will not be permitted to have a lesson.” As for whether or not to make this up, that will be up to you. Do you have so many students that you don’t have time for a make-up? For example, if the child has a phone at school, could they have their lesson from a different room in the school during their time remotely without a piano? Make it a rhythm, notation, pattern-recognizing lesson? And if the school is the only place you teach, could you make up the lesson after school with the child at home at their instrument while you are at home (without your instrument). In my policy, I still make up sick days but I don’t mind (this doesn’t add up to many make-ups for me because my studio is small). So, you need to make the decision for yourself if there’s a work-around for an online lesson or how to word your no-make-up policy. Hope this helps!
good work thanq so much