Trial Lessons? (All Teachers)
MemberMarch 30, 2016 at 4:06 pm
I’ve been exchanging emails with a potential new student, and they’ve asked if we can have a trial lesson. For me and other prospective students that I’ve had before, this means, quite simply, a lesson. That you pay for. But there are no obligations to go on and have more lessons – hence ‘trial’.
This new student want a trial lesson, but I’m very strongly getting the impression that they don’t want to pay for it – they’re asking if we can meet ‘for a chat’ first – most of my first lessons involve a fair bit of chat anyway, so I know what the student is hoping to get out of the lessons/improve upon. I’ve also said (a few times!) that if they have any questions I’d be more than happy to answer them over email, but nothing is forthcoming. I’m not feeling inclined to give up my time for this, only for them to decide that they can’t be bothered…
Am I being unreasonable? Has anyone dealt with similar issues to this before? A phone call may be the way forward but I’m terrible on the phone (especially with people that I don’t know!) and I’m not sure that either of us would get the information that we need!
MemberMarch 30, 2016 at 4:11 pm
Some students just need to speak to you beforehand to check if you’re human! It can be weird going to a new place for some people so maybe it’s just that they need some confirmation that you’re real. I’m sure it’s less about information, more about trust and warmth. I always try and speak to my students once before their first lesson, even though I feel icky on the phone too. So give them a call and see if that resolves anything.
ModeratorMarch 30, 2016 at 5:02 pm
I would go with your gut – if it’s telling you this person doesn’t want to pay for the trial, it may not be a good sign. But perhaps I have become cynical, and Matt makes a very good point. I think you need to tell them how much the trial would cost so that they know that your time is money.. and that you are happy to speak on the phone (I hate talking on the phone too, but rather that than meet someone and do what I would do in a first lesson anyway – but for free!)
Hope this helps!
MemberMarch 30, 2016 at 8:44 pm
I’ve experienced this a few times and have offered a phone call to chat or a 5 minute meeting that would not involve any singing. If they feel that they would like longer, perhaps offer a reduced time and fee – perhaps 15 minutes/30 minutes.
Hope this helps,
MemberMarch 31, 2016 at 8:22 am
Hey Rosie, I find myself agreeing with most of the things said above.
Definitely try to make the phone call. I used to be terrible on the phone, but I’ve found it’s a skill I’ve gotten better at (through sheer force of will and practice). I’ve also found that when I speak to a student on the phone BEFORE the lesson it can offer result in better retention after that first lesson as you’ve already got them on side.
That said, absolutely don’t feel as though you need to offer a free lesson (or a free “consultation” for that matter). If you treat them with a warmth and respect but set clear boundaries, demonstrating the worth of your time, the student will be grateful for this. Boundaries are important so that both parties (teacher and student) know where they stand.
MemberMarch 31, 2016 at 1:18 pm
I’m really glad to see that not everyone is doing free trial sessions. I charge for all my first sessions and wondered if this was unreasonable, so it’s very comforting. I also think it’s a good idea to give them a ring and just make it clear how much the first session will cost 🙂
MemberApril 1, 2016 at 7:47 am
If your policy is to offer free trials this is fine, If this isn’t what you do normally don’t bother. You can say I don’t offer free trial because my regular clients subside it no free lunch etc. put more sensitively. With enquires I find that clients have usually made the decision before hand to commit to paying and may have a couple of questions. If you’re ping ponging emails or having 30 minute phone calls its not a good sign. What sort of client will they be ? Finally You can always offer money back if the lesson is unacceptable. I have on occasion found I couldn’t help a client with their chosen area and waived the fee Its honest and is good pr
MemberApril 2, 2016 at 8:15 am
I charge for all my first lessons and in my experience if people aren’t willing to pay for 1st lessons then they are probably going to be tight with money going forward or not go forward at all.
I agree with the phone call approach but again don’t let them drag the phone call on for too long, as they can still get an hour out of you on the phone.
I know that this all sounds negative and they might be fine and extremely serious about singing and doing lessons, but if they are not it will soon show.
MemberApril 5, 2016 at 3:53 pm
I used to offer a 30 minute free trial lesson – I did this because I was starting out teaching and needed to get as many students as possible! However the turn out was extremely low and people were literally just using me as a ‘one-off’ free lesson. So I made the decision to charge in advance from the first lesson via an online payment and that has completely stopped people from wasting my time. I completely agree with what everyone else has said 🙂
You can always give them a call to make it more personal to them, and so they can ask you any questions but no more than that! I’ve had some people want to sing down the phone to me before, so I just have to say I can’t make a true judgement of their voice over the phone
ModeratorApril 5, 2016 at 5:10 pm
Funny you should bring this up Beckie, as Facebook alerted me to “on this day” and it turns out that 3 years ago today I was posting my Gumtree ad to Facebook with my 30 min free taster lessons when I started out! It went very well actually, but obviously you have to prepare to be “used” I suppose..!
Meanwhile, one time I had an enquiry from Matthew which was someone asking me if they could send a recording of themselves for me to judge. I just said I don’t do that – it’s far better to judge in person, which by the way, costs!!!
MemberApril 21, 2016 at 7:03 pm
I don’t do trial lessons at all.If the student wants to speak on the phone or through e-mail thats no problem at all but in my opinion a lesson is a lesson and has to be paid because is your time what your are giving to the student,and the student has to understand that the teacher’s time is what he/she is paying for. You can explain that to the student so she/he can understand why there is no trial lessons.
MemberApril 23, 2016 at 4:33 pm
This can be a tricky situation…. like the others here, when I first started I was more prepared to give up my time for free and offered free trial/first lessons. Now I’m a bit busier, I don’t offer this but if I have an enquiry from someone similar to yours I might agree for them to come round so I can showcase my teaching skills/warm personality(!) and not mention payment even though (like you) I have a strong feeling they’re trying to get a freebie. They might like you so much at the end that they’ll offer payment anyway or again they might not. But you gracefully offering something for free will tell them a lot about your personality. I have a couple of students who started in this way and now they are faithful and always pay on time. I think Matt (Pocock) is correct – it’s about trust and warmth.
Of course they may not come again and if they do, on their second visit they must not leave without paying or making arrangements to do so online! (this is very important!)
Hope this is helpful,
MemberApril 27, 2016 at 2:18 pm
Thanks Rosie for starting this thread. I’ve had a situation pop up today where someone had referred a friend of his to me. The guy got in touch and asked for an hour session tomorrow to work on his vocals for a gig. This is way beyond the scope of what I do in a free consult so I told him my prices. Immediately I was met with “But my friend said he got his first session free”. Huge red flag for me so I’ve clearly outlined what I do in a 30 minute vocal consult (talk goals, a range test, me listening to a song/songs, discussing what is and isn’t working, a demonstration of a couple of the exercises I use).
I’ll see if he tries to push his luck tomorrow. I having a feeling that my free sessions will be ending soon as this has left me feeling used and like my time isn’t valuable. It’s a shame as these freebies really helped me grow my business in the first year. I guess times have changed for me though.
ModeratorApril 27, 2016 at 2:45 pm
Chris – free tasters are great when you’re starting out. That’s what I did. But now you’ve grown your business by the sounds of it, so nothing is for free as your time is more valuable due to there being less of it! See it as a positive 🙂
Agree payment/free session BEFORE you meet this guy if I were you!
ModeratorApril 27, 2016 at 2:48 pm
Oh and this goes to everyone: don’t be put off by the minority of dick heads there are out there. Don’t let them make you feel used and undervalued. It’s all in the attitude of the individual, so don’t let them make you doubt how you do things. Cut people like that out and don’t waste more of your valuable time on them. Spend time on those who honour and respect you.
This also applies to life in general.
Wow, wish I could follow my own advice!
MemberMay 1, 2016 at 6:26 pm
I would be wary of an unpaid trial lesson. Every teacher deserves payment for his or her time. There is a teacher in my area who advertises the first lesson free. He then uses the hour to show off his prowness on the guitar hoping to impress them enough to get the student to pay upfront for a block booking. I always make sure the student gets to play something by the end of the first lesson even allowing for chat and setting the scene.
MemberMay 2, 2016 at 6:34 pm
Yeah I go with the no free trial option as well. Free stuff tends to attract people that want free stuff and that seems to be true in all areas. I’ve noticed that I tend to sell more CDs at ticketed gigs than free ones, for example. Stick with your gut, don’t do it.
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