Closing a music studio - because of a move or retirement - is not a simple or cut-and-dried matter. The practice is not "sold" and teacher walks away with no further thought to the students left behind. Not only are there business matters to be concluded, such as closing bank accounts, but there are emotional issues, such as finding each student a compatible new teacher and bringing closure to each personal relationship.
No later than a month before closure, begin working (or touching up) audition pieces for each student. Describe what will happen at the audition and, no later than the last lesson, role-play so the student knows what to expect.
Ask the parent to attend the last lesson. Rehearse the audition. Discuss with the student and the parent what you have accomplished with the student. Encourage the student to be open to the new teacher's ideas and approaches, even though they might not be the way you have done things together. Give each student transfer materials at the last lesson; since you are initiating the break, it is your responsibility to provide transfer materials. Allow plenty of time to write these! Suggestions:
Some parents are not sure what questions to ask a prospective teacher and will find it helpful to receive some written guidance from you on this subject. A list of questions such as "What methods do you use?" and "How do you feel about competitions?" are excellent; frame each one in a neutral manner. Encourage the parent to interview a number of teachers before deciding and to change if the first choice does not work out.
However you normally handle billing, for the last month, I suggest payment at the beginning of the month for the entire month. Negotiate checks promptly, in case there is any problem.
Don't forget to close accounts at music stores and so on.
Keep your business checking account open until you have paid taxes for that tax year, but it's safe to close any business savings accounts now.
Contact your tax advisor about ways to minimize the tax impact of your studio closure.
copyright 1998, Martha Beth Lewis, Ph.D.
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