Ballroom Dance > Trends in lesson length and scheduling

Discussion in 'Ballroom Dance' started by cornutt, Jun 4, 2017.

  1. cornutt

    cornutt Well-Known Member

    Back in the day, lessons were an hour long and started on the hour. But that was in a galaxy long ago and far away...

    So what is the standard length of a lesson in your area? Is it staying the same, or are studios changing it? And how does the schedule run: lessons on the hour, half hour, quarter hour? Is the instructor expected to do several in a row without a break? And does your studio schedule privates during group lesson times?
  2. Larinda McRaven

    Larinda McRaven Site Moderator Staff Member

    I schedule 45 minute lessons. I do not break between. I find that 15 minute unpaid break a total waste of time and a kills my energy. I can keep up my focus and energy if I run straight from on lesson to the next. I end at 0:44:59 and I start the next at 0:45:04. Sitting down will only make me not want to get back up.

    I also find that when there is a clear ending to the lesson/coaching the last 5 minutes are very productive by engaging in a total recap.

    When I do have a break I tend to like to play catch up with accounting and reconciling lessons in my computer program so I am not stuck starting the entire days worth of reconciling at 10pm.

    Many studios in this area still adamantly sell "hour" lessons, but really only schedule 50 or 55 minutes with a break in between. I hadn't seen that type of scheduling in at least 17 years on the east coast.

    personal opinions about scheduling times...

    What I find difficult about that 10 minute break is the students here are used to that empty time between their lessons and the teachers next appt... and they tend to linger and chat and continue to ask questions because the end of their lessons previously was very blurry, and ran over by up to 10 minutes sometimes. And while that may have been fine when I first moved here because bookings were not stacked it certainly is a problem now for me or other teachers who are honestly booked full time. With these students I engage for just a minute or two and then very bluntly mention "sorry you are on their dime right now. I have to go" Most students get the idea after 2 or 3 of these. Some students ingrained in a 50 minute lesson lasting 58 minutes really never change though. They will continue to ask new questions and say "just one more thing..." or even follow me into someone else's lesson.

    I also really dislike the practice of setting the studio clocks behind by 5 minutes "to give people time to get to the studio". By now everyone has a smart phone that is synced to the Atomic clock... and changing wall clocks just confuses people. Or they tend to expect that they CAN be late because the studio classes are always running behind. That is just a runaway train that tends to make the last lesson of the night start a whole half hour late. And that is not fair for me or the last student.
    Last edited: Jun 5, 2017
  3. RiseNFall

    RiseNFall Well-Known Member

    I think all of the ballroom studios, both independent and franchise, around here have 45 minute lessons. I always see them scheduled back to back, with lesson long break(s) built in. I try to be aware if a teacher is doing a bunch of lessons back-to-back and might need a quick break to run to the restroom. Honestly, it's not going to cut into what I learn in any substantial way, and they all have stretched a lesson by a bit here and there when we were in the middle of something and they could.

    I have been in studios that had a separate room for classes, but that's a luxury. Currently, the studio holds classes at one end of the studio. If possible and warranted, space around the edges might be left even at that end. It's always interesting to watch everybody get distracted if Pro and a top-level open student are are dancing at the same time as a class. Even if they don't dance right past us, we can see them in the mirrors. :)
  4. raindance

    raindance Well-Known Member

    Around here I have mostly seen 50 minutes with a 10 minute break (scheduled each hour), or 40 minutes with a 5 minute break (scheduled every 45 minutes). That 5 or 10 minute break is often used for chit chat or scheduling the next lesson, paperwork for the next showcase or other event, and/or lesson notes. Sometimes of course it is used for restroom breaks. And occasionally it is used to wrap up the end of a concept, letting the lesson run into that short break. (Some of the teachers here also seem to appreciate a 5 minute sit down before the next lesson, as they may already be using advil to stay on their feet as long as they need to.)

    Most teachers here don't seem to be fully booked for too many hours at a time - they may go from 5 or 6pm to 9 or 10 pm straight through some nights, but few are starting in the morning or early afternoon and going through until evening. So they don't need to really schedule other breaks it seems, as they are only teaching for a few hours at a time anyway.

    I haven't been in the local franchise studios to see what they are doing, these are independent studios.

    As a student I appreciate having that little 5-10 minute slot to go over scheduling issues and other paperwork or ask about other happenings at the studio, rather than having that need to occur during lesson times. (These are all smaller studios, generally without dedicated reception staff for scheduling, so the teacher is scheduling themself.)

    Floors here are small, so I generally avoid booking a private lesson if there is a group going on at that time. There just isn't much room to work on much alongside a medium sized group lesson. Some teachers will still teach a private lesson during another teacher's group, but they seem to tend to avoid it as well unless there is no other time to fit in that lesson.
    scullystwin42 likes this.
  5. RiseNFall

    RiseNFall Well-Known Member

    Not what was asked, but one way I help everything work well when teachers have back-to-back lessons: if I need to ask a scheduling question during my lesson, I do it at the beginning of my lesson. I will freely admit to being happy to get scheduling done outside of my lesson time if there is somebody at the desk, etc., but it makes me very cranky when a student who should know better asks a question like that just as their lesson is ending and mine is supposed to begin.
  6. Mengu

    Mengu Well-Known Member

    It used to be 1 hr, back to back (no breaks), when I started dancing (17 years ago). When I had a 2 hr lesson, it literally went 120 minutes. We've had a period where it was 55 minutes, or 50 minutes, with breaks at the studio, but most instructors found those breaks to be inconvenient and a waste of time. My instructor never did that, at some point she just switched from 60 to 45 minutes, I don't remember when that was, but it was quite some time ago.

    In more recent years the norm has been 45 minutes, back to back. Studios don't have set schedules for lesson start, each instructor determines their own schedule (not all local studios conform to this, but I think most do). I have noticed instructors with odd 15, 20, 30 minute breaks, to accommodate student schedules, and they fill that time with other duties, snack breaks, watching videos, or getting in a quick game of chess. I don't really see anyone who is booked tightly full an entire day, other than visiting coaches, there are usually gaps in schedules.

    This is only for independent studios I've been to... I have no idea what goes on in a franchise studio.
    Larinda McRaven likes this.
  7. Dr Dance

    Dr Dance Well-Known Member

    My independent standard instructor has an "hour" lesson that typically runs for 55 minutes. She uses the 5 minutes between lessons to "freshen up." My independent social dance instructor has one hour lessons that last the entire hour. But these two are the exceptions.

    The most prevalent time span for a private lesson in my area is 45 minutes.
    scullystwin42 likes this.
  8. tangotime

    tangotime Well-Known Member

    In the "stone " age, my period :rolleyes: , my lessons as a student, were 30 minutes. Common practice in the UK, and, I currently have 2 students that take 30 minute lessons .
  9. Mr 4 styles

    Mr 4 styles Well-Known Member

    45 minutes back to back
  10. bia

    bia Well-Known Member

    Our lessons are a full hour, on the hour, back to back. The last few minutes end up being used for note-taking/scheduling/chatting.
  11. IndyLady

    IndyLady Well-Known Member

    Our studio does the 45 minute timeslot for a 40 minute lesson / 5 minute break structure.

    I totally agree with this.... I've had to step in on more than one occasion when the instructor is still chatting with students when my lesson is scheduled to start. I usually give a 1-2 minute leeway but now that I've read your post I think I might move that to zero. I wish more teachers would be as blunt as you are.

    Yup, this too. My current studio has started that again recently, which I find annoying. Especially because it means that I'm done 5 minutes later than the official time. I know that seems like nbd to most people, but as I have a young child, I'd prefer to wrap it up and get done on time so I can get home and spend what little time is left in the evening with my kid.

    Also.... a studio I used to go to was routinely 10 minutes behind, and that drove me batty. The clocks weren't behind, but the lessons were. So my 6:30 lesson wouldn't start until 6:40 (and would go until 7:25 instead of 7:15). I actually called out the instructor on that once, and he pretended like he hadn't noticed ("I hate not being on time"... riiigghhht). It took me a few times to figure it out - I had been rushing to get there after work (sometimes leaving a few minutes early) only to be waiting around for 20-25 minutes before the lesson. So I finally started aiming for a 6:40 start which got me some looks - I think the receptionist was thinking uh oh, 6:28 and she's not here yet for the 6:30 lesson - they weren't super receptive when I pointed out why. And before I get lectures on practice time and warm-ups, which I eventually did some of but was a bit challenging given the small size of the floor and other lessons going on - I don't think that excuses running chronically behind.
  12. Larinda McRaven

    Larinda McRaven Site Moderator Staff Member

    This is a horrible business practice, and one of the largest complaints we have about the medical field, so much so now that is is a common cultural joke about any drs. appt. It HONESTLY is not that hard to start and stop a dance lesson on time. I do not start groups late if people are still showing up, I just start talking to the ones that are there while others are scrambling through the door, checking in, changing shoes. And on privates I start late obviously when a student arrives late, but we end on time out of respect for the student that is booked next.

    I used to teach a yoga class here in town. The teacher before me in the room ran so far over, past the 15 minute turn over break, and into my class time that my students would rush into her class thinking they were late for mine. Imagine their surprise when savasana started 5 minutes into the class. '

    This comes down to unskilled teachers who are incapable of managing their information flow.
  13. scullystwin42

    scullystwin42 Well-Known Member

    Mine are the 40 minute lessons, 5 minute break. one of my teachers is very talky - if i know my lesson is the last of the day, i don't mind, because i know he'll go over and make it up, but if it isn't, i am very much "less talk more dance". Most of our teachers do several in a row with only the 5 minute breaks, and then long breaks for lunch/dinner.
    Larinda McRaven and IndyLady like this.
  14. dncergrl2

    dncergrl2 Member

    Most of my lessons are 90 min (45 x 2) and always on time. If we chit chat too much, I will mention it and get time tacked onto another lesson eventually when there is no one after me. I never feel cheated. If we have a specific goal, like working on a jive show, lessons will be shorter so I don't wreck my body jiving for 90 min. Also if I am recovering from a body injury, lessons might be shorter. I arrive about 30-60 min before lesson to warm up and review and hang around afterwards to make notes and stretch. So lesson days are really time intensive.
  15. MaggieMoves

    MaggieMoves Well-Known Member

    Most of my lessons are 45 minutes each taken twice in a row. Depends what we're working on, but sometimes my instructor will work in a 5 minute break in there - but many times not. My instructor and I both push each other during our lessons. I don't think there has been a lesson lately where I wasn't drenched in sweat. With this, sometimes a break is needed.

    There was a studio in my old neighborhood that did 50 minute lessons, with 10 minutes in between. Lessons would start on the hour. I've yet to see another studio do that. Another studio used to do 45 minute lessons with 5 minute breaks - so lessons would start every 50 minutes. One of my ex dance partners used to take social lessons there from time to time.
  16. debmc

    debmc Well-Known Member

    My lessons are 45 minutes each for 2-3 lessons at a time. I don't have a problem with them starting a little late because I know my teacher will always give the full time. There have been times when I've been the one to end a lesson early if I was hurting too much (joint issues), but there have also been times where he has added an extra few minutes over, so it all evens out.
    raindance likes this.
  17. debmc

    debmc Well-Known Member

    I've seen some studios that have a 'teachers lounge where teachers can go after the lesson so that they have uninterrupted time.
    RiseNFall and Larinda McRaven like this.
  18. Larinda McRaven

    Larinda McRaven Site Moderator Staff Member

    Teachers lounges are definitely a bonus, but I think are more and more rare these days. As it is now where I am I have to excuse myself to my car so that I can get on the computer to reconcile my books in peace ... or eat.
  19. Our lessons are 50 minutes with 10 minutes in between, although I admit my instructor often runs 55 minutes. If I have 2 lessons back to back, I will be drenched by the end of it. If the instructors have several lessons in a row (say 1-10) they will schedule longer breaks (30 min or an hour) in the middle, depending on their preference. The studio does not offer group classes.
  20. flying_backwards

    flying_backwards Active Member

    At my teacher's studio the lessons are 45 minutes, scheduled back-to-back. It is usual for teachers to go into the back room and change clothes between lessons. Most discussion, such as scheduling, comes out of lesson time. Every lesson starts with "How are you did you practice?" (As all one sentence, no comma) and ends with "Thank you" and a handshake clearly saying "done". Most students arrive the requested 5 minutes early. Some arrive earlier to warm-up. And a few are incorrigibly late.

    Occasionally there are lessons and a group class sharing the floor, but not for Standard because we need the whole floor and have more students. Classes are 45 minutes. There are up to 4 different lessons at one time sharing the floor for latin or social dance. But we Standard students coordinate among ourselves so that there are only lessons of the same dance sharing. Latin class starts 5 or 10 minutes late but Standard class starts precisely on time, shoes tied and lined up. If our teacher is still in the back we put the music on and start the warm-up sequences.

    As long as the students are aware what they are signing up for, it is fair.

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