Gearing Up for Fall: Part 2

Getting Scheduled for Fall

Fall Scheduling.

These might be the two most dreaded words in a music teacher’s vocabulary. Close contenders include:

Pink Eye.

Softball Practice. (Volleyball, Soccer, Baseball, etc…)

61 Keys.

Creating a fall schedule can feel like you’re playing a never-ending game of Twister. Move one student into a spot that works and suddenly you discover 3 other students who also need that spot, and of course there’s now a left-over spot that apparently nobody can use. To quote my high school choir teacher…

“It’s like trying to fit 10 lbs. of flour into a 5 lb. bag.”

Ahhh… the joys of fall scheduling!

Fall Scheduling

No matter what kind of a system you usefiguring out a schedule for the beginning of a new school year can be time consuming and a tad frustrating.  Don’t despair! There are some things that you can do to ease the process. Here are a few tips that I’ve learned over the years:

  1. Start Your Schedule After Labor Day. (Or even later if you can!) Many extracurricular schedules aren’t finalized until halfway through the month, and having to switch students around constantly makes for a very hectic September. For the past two years I’ve started lessons the day after Labor Day, and it’s worked pretty well for my studio.
  2. Be Flexible. If you know that the first couple of weeks of fall are going to be insane, build in a couple of “extra” spots outside of your normal schedule just for a couple of weeks. Use them if you need a last-minute option while you figure things out (swapping lesson times, etc.) Extra tip: You might want to make some crock pot or freezer meals that first week! Tracy Selle has some great tips to make mealtime a priority as a music teacher.
  3. Start with an Old Schedule. This is my preferred method. I like to offer my students the times that they had in the spring, and then take requests as necessary. This gives me somewhere to start, which is really helpful when you’re trying to juggle 35 students.
  4. Start Fresh. Some teachers like to start with a clean slate by creating an empty schedule and having students/parents sign up. Sign-Up Genius is a good option for this kind of schedule creation. This might be best for smaller studios.
  5. Use a Survey. For the past two years I’ve used Google Forms to get my students registered for fall lessons. If they need a new lesson time, I have them list a range of days/times that will work. I’ve also heard about a lot of teachers who use rating systems  — parents rate days/times on a scale of 1-4, 1 being the most convenient and 4 being the least convenient.

Curious to see what a Google Form Fall Registration might look like? I created a simplified copy of my Fall Registration and Studio Agreement form. You can check it out by clicking the image below. Feel free to test it out!

Here’s one more tid-bit of advice for you brave music teachers out there…
You’ll get through this! I know that August/September will be a challenge, but this time of frustration won’t last forever.

Scheduling madness will pass and soon you’ll be well on your way to slowly going insane due to the 15 students all practicing “Carol of the Bells” and “The 12 Days of Christmas.” 

Now doesn’t that make you feel better?


How do you get through the scheduling season in your studio? Leave your tips and tricks in the comments below!

Be sure to check out Part 1 of my Gearing Up for Fall series!

Getting Geared Upfor Fall

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Upbeat Piano Teacher Book Club
Gearing Up for Fall: Part 1


  • Trackback: Gearing Up for Fall: Part 1 | Sara's Music Studio
  • by Nikki Loney Posted August 10, 2016 12:31 pm

    This is a brilliant post Sara! Thanks for the great tips!

    • by Sara @ Sara’s Music Studio Posted August 10, 2016 3:22 pm

      Thanks, Nikki! Thanks for reading 🙂

  • by Rhonda H. Posted August 13, 2016 11:33 am

    You hit the nail on the head with the game of Twister! I love the families that respond very late and then give you one day and time to make it work….and don’t understand why they can’t have that time! I’m thinking….If you responded earlier…… I’m in the home stretch heading to a full schedule with a few new students! Thanks for the smile Sara!

    • by Sara @ Sara’s Music Studio Posted August 13, 2016 11:36 am

      Yep! This time of year is tricky, but it sounds like things are coming together well for you 🙂 Thanks for stopping by!

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  • by Jessica Pawlitzki Posted August 25, 2016 6:15 pm

    With my music school students I always start with last year’s schedule and then craft a new schedule in the first week. This has worked wonders in the last years because parents have a couple of days to respond whether they need a new spot or prefer the old one.

    Now my private students on the other hand are very organized. Apart from 1 or 2 my schedule is done and we only the new school year start next week 😀

    • by Sara @ Sara’s Music Studio Posted August 25, 2016 6:17 pm

      Wow! Sounds like you are a “scheduling twister” champion this year! Good luck as you start fall lessons 🙂 Thanks for reading!

  • Trackback: Gearing Up for Fall: Part 3 | Sara's Music Studio
  • Trackback: How to Survive Back-to-School Scheduling

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