Of course, in an ideal world, a teacher doesn’t have to replace any lessons. However, in the real world, humans get sick and musicians get gigs. If possible, I advise that a teacher replaces a maximum of 3 lessons in a year. (In my personal experience, if I rescheduled 4 or more lessons in a year, there tended to be complaints.) If you gotta do what you gotta do…
1. Preferably give lots of notice. It’s amazing how if you warn parents that in 2 month’s time you will have a gig on the day of their lesson, they’ll usually accept it without any problem whatsoever.
2. If possible, replace a class in advance. This brings your ‘parental aggro’ rate down even further from its neutral (see above), and gives an amazingly professional impression… that said, I haven’t actually managed to do this myself yet ☺
3. If you work in a Suzuki school, and the student’s individual lesson is not at the same time as their group lesson, how about replacing their individual lesson during group week? That way you know the family will be in the county and available that precise day and time, so there’s no potential clash with any other activity. Purrrfect.
4. As a last resort, replace during holidays. Preferably replace lessons during short holidays so there’s a higher likelihood the family will be in the county / country for your lesson.
Good luck with it, and let me know how you get on in the comments below! And if you’re struggling to decide if you should replace a lesson or not, you may find this helpful.