mqu9MRaDo you offer make-up lessons? Do you require 24-hour advanced notice? Are there make-up lessons built into your semester or yearly calendar? Do your make-up lessons ever bleed over into summer lessons eating away at your precious summer income? Do make-up lessons make you feel stressed, overworked or manipulated?

In teacher training classes, at conferences, and among music teacher friends, this is one of the most heated topics I hear about. Most people have a strong opinion one way or another. If you are an active performer and expect lots of flexibility from your students to accommodate your performing schedule, you may be one of the teachers IN FAVOR of make-up lessons. If you, on the other hand, are someone with a tight child-care schedule or teaching space limitations, you may be COMPLETELY AGAINST make-up lessons. For community music schools, preparatory divisions, or multi-teacher co-operatives, the topic of make-up lessons probably fuels many of your faculty meetings.

At this time of yetaxesar, I have taxes heavily on my mind. Perhaps you, too, are busy preparing your 2011 returns before that dreaded April date, or maybe you’re way ahead of me and have already taken care of everything. While being a self-employed studio owner can be a bit of a pain come tax time, there are also many deductions you should be taking advantage of:
Business Expenses

There are a number of tax deductible business expenses allowed by the IRS. These include money spent on advertising, travel, memberships, licenses, and maintenance. If you put an ad in the paper, purchased a business license or membership for your local teaching organization, attended a conference, provided incentive prizes, had your piano tuned or bought coffee during a business meeting, then you should be reporting these on your tax forms. Studio Helper and Music Teacher’s Helper make recording these things very simple. You simply enter the expense in the Studio Expense portion of the dashboard and toss the receipt into a folder in your filing cabinet so that you have supporting documentation in case you are audited. Be sure to provide specific details when recording the expense so that you know what category it fits into when you are doing your taxes the following year.

Readying Your Studio for 2012

At the top of my list of to-do’s over the holiday break? Whipping my studio into shape for the new year. It was badly in need of reorganization after the end-of-semester frenzy — and I’m pretty sure mine isn’t the only one!

That, of course begs the question: is your studio ready for 2012?

I started to feel a little overwhelmed as I wrote down all the tasks involved, but actually tackling them one by one was surprisingly enjoyable. The very best and most satisfying part was crossing them off the list, which looked like this:

Preparing for Holiday BreakThe holidays are my favorite time of year, especially in the studio. I love working on festive pieces with my students and recording holiday songs for them to give as gifts. And of course, the break is refreshing not only for students, but for me as a teacher.

However, as a business owner, the holidays can be a financially tough time. In the past, I’ve closed my studio for two full weeks (in coordination with most school calendars) — which results in two full weeks of lost income. There are ways to make up for some, if not all of it, though.