Easily see who is free to teach

We hope you have noticed a growing collection of free/busy displays under the ‘calendar’ menu that allow you to easily see the weekly schedule of rooms and instructors. The most recent addition could be the most helpful of all. This new report shows an adjustable 6-hour span and displays ALL staffers, with two optional filters.

Let’s say that you have set up a list for staffers to indicate what discipline they teach. On that list you have put options “cello”, “violin”, “voice”, “acting”, and you have assigned these to your instructors as appropriate. Then let’s say you have a parent call and say they are looking for 30-minute cello lessons any weekday at 4:00, 4:30, or 5:00.

Choose the “Instructor free/busy, all instructors” view under calendar. Choose the list “discipline taught” and then choose cello. Choose, say, 3:00 as starting point for the display. When you hit ‘show report’, the display will give you the nominal schedule for all your cello teachers. You can simply scroll through them to see if any one of them has an opening between 4:00 and 5:30.

All the free/busy displays also now differentiate between a staffer’s instruction schedule and the times recorded as ‘available’ or ‘unavailable’. Busy times now show as gray blocks. Booked or partially-booked show in colors, and free times are just white. All the displays also show a double asterisk(**) if the instructor is booked for a displayed time period in the future. The asterisks invite you to look closer at the schedule for that teacher.

We invite you to explore all of the free/busy offerings as each offers a slightly different view of information.

Back to lists, remember that you may set up any type of descriptor for your staffers, and with the staff-related lists you may associate a single staffer with more than one list attribute. Translated, that means for instance that a single teacher may be associated with three different instruments taught, not just one. Please check out the user guide regarding lists. You’ll find that under Studio Set-up.

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How to pro-rate a first-month tuition fee

Some studios have a policy that pro-rates tuition for students who enroll mid-month. MuseMinder has just simplified this process. You may now identify per-session rates and by selecting one of these rates during the enrollment process you instruct the system to charge that rate times the number of sessions for the first month. Thereafter, the invoicing process creates AR records for each subsequent month at the monthly rate.

Some notes:

This pro-rata set-up is for Monthly Tuition enrollments only. (This means the fee has the Tuition type, and the system levies that fee on the first of each calendar month.)

Once that fee is in place, you create the per-session fee on the Fees view, under the Per-session, Billed-Individually tab.

Whenever you click on the monthly tuition contract type and your monthly fees appear, a list of per-session charges will also appear. If you ignore this list and do not choose a per-session fee, the system will create the first AR for the full amount, due on the first of the month of instruction.

An example:

You charge $50 a month for a base course called Children’s Chorus. You have a policy that allows children to enroll mid-month and be charged $15 a session for the first month.

You create a monthly Tuition-type fee of $50 per calendar month, and you associate that fee with the course. You hit the “Per-Session, Billed-Individually” tab on the Fees view and you create a fee of $15 per session.

You enroll Andrew Nye in Children’s Chorus on May 18, you select the Monthly contract type and your $50/month fee displays. Below that you will now also see a list of all fees that are categorized as “Per-Session, Billed-Individually. You choose the $15 rate, you finish inputting on the form and you hit ‘enroll’.

There are two more sessions in May after the 18th. The system creates one May AR in the amount of $30. The reference on the AR says “Children’s Chorus – Andrew – May 2017 (2 mtgs)”. The AR records for June and July are for the full $50 each.

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Record when teachers can teach — or when they cannot

In response to a request from the MuseMinder community, we have published an alternative way to record the times that staff are available to teach at your studio. Now in addition to recording when people are unavailable, you may instead record when they ARE available. Naturally for different people you may choose one method over the other.
When you record this information, regardless of the method you choose, it is recorded in the system as a set of staff-busy records. This is so that when you view your new instructor free/busy display, the system will show the instructor as ‘booked’ during the times that they are unavailable to teach. You can cancel a staff-busy record any time you wish by visiting the staff view.

You input staff-available and staff-busy records on the same view. You get to that view from the staff view, either by clicking the button under the list of staff names, or from the ‘Times Unavailable’ tab.

Here is an example:

Renata Flambe’ is only available to teach voice on Tuesdays from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. You go to the Staff Availability view and choose her name (it will be already selected if you had selected her on the staff view). You decide to input her availability times rather than her busy times, so you click on the appropriate tab. You select Tuesday and you select the time range. You save that record and it appears in the box on the right.
If there are any more times during the week when she can teach, you make a record for them, but in this case it is only Tuesday so you end up with one entry. Then you hit the button to create staff-busy records. The system will create busy records for all day Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Her free/busy display will only be clear on Tuesday. The rest of the time will show as ‘booked’.

Here is another example:

Richard Rodgers is available to teach composition every day except Tuesdays and Sundays. Select the other tab and input those days as Times Unavailable (busy) records. His free/busy display will show that he is free five days of the week.

Last notes:

  • As a default, the system uses a time span from 8 a.m. To 8 p.m.
  • As would be expected, as an instructor is scheduled to teach, those teaching hours also show up as ‘booked’ on the free/busy display.
  • ‘Busy’ time slots also show up on the calendar when the calendar is filtered for the instructor. They appear as gray blocks while the instruction blocks show up in color.
  • Remember that you must re-input busy or available times for each new operating year, but these work like other courses and they can be extended into the next year by using the batch scheduling group operation.
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MuseMinder offers IN-HOUSE payment processing

In response to a request from a new member of the MuseMinder community we have expanded your options for accepting payments from clients. Up until now if you wished to use your merchant account to collect payments from your clients, you invited your clients to log on to their member portal and pay with a credit card, pay with a selected credit card from a profile they set up, or pay by setting up a recurring transaction.

We have just made it so that instead of having them log in and pay, you can debit their credit cards or bank accounts from your own office. Naturally, you need to have authorization from your clients to gain access to their accounts, BUT you do not have to store their card information anywhere on your premises. All their information (card number, verification code, expiration date, and /or bank account number) remains inside Authorize.net. To get this account information into Authorize.net, either you have the client input it themselves by making one payment, or you process a payment along with them on your office machine. In either case, their payment method is kept in a secure setting, but they (your clients) authorize you to charge their accounts and settle their studio bills.

This option brings the payment process into your office so there is more work for you or your staff, but it gives you control over when (and whether!) you receive payments.

If you are interested in learning more about this feature, please let us know. It is a feature that we have to activate here in our offices at MuseMinder HQ. There is no extra charge for this feature.

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MuseMinder adds an instructor free/busy display

In order to make it still easier for you to check who might be free to teach when you are setting up private instruction, we have created a new free/busy view. This one shows the entire week for a given instructor. Please have a look at it – you can find it under the ‘calendar’ menu.

This display tracks to the “nominal” schedule of the instructor in question. Here is what we mean by “nominal”: When you set up a course instance or a lesson set, you identify a default instructor (this is automatically set when you create a private weekly lesson). The default instructor is set as the instructor for every session that is scheduled. If Instructor B subs for Instructor A on May 22nd and records it in the system, Instructor B gets credit for having taught that session, but Instructor A is still the default teacher.

That’s one part of the nominal set-up. The other part is the scheduling part.

Any time you set up a course instance or a lesson set, the system creates what we call a template for it. So if Group Recorder meets Wednesdays at 3:30 p.m., the system records that day and time for Group Recorder. Why does it do this? It does it so that next year when you are ready to set up Group Recorder again, all you have to to do is select the class on the list and the system will automatically schedule it for Wednesday at 3:30 p.m. You don’t have to re-create the course instance again, you just extend the existing schedule into the next year.

Similarly, a private lesson set may be extended, because it too is a course instance and it too has a schedule template.

Please recall that if a class meets twice weekly, there are two templates associated with the one course instance. There are not two course instances because students are only enrolled in one class, they just show up for it twice each week.

Templates were created to make it easier for you to set up classes from year to year.

As Summer is approaching you may be thinking about this. The first step in setting up your new year is to figure out which private lessons are continuing, and which classes will occur at the same time as this year. Once you have that list you can greatly simplify your scheduling by using this template set-up.

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MuseMinder accommodates multiple sites

In response to requests from some new clients, we have created an important new feature for MuseMinder.

MuseMinder now accommodates studios with more than one location for instruction. We have always accommodated locations with separate addresses, but now there is a fuller feature set, including site-based reports and site-based closures.

Here is an example:

You have a main studio where many of your classes are held, but you also offer instruction at local elementary schools. These schools have different schedules – they begin and end on different dates and their spring breaks are all over the map. You can now identify the closures for these individual schools, so that when you schedule lessons or classes at that site the system skips the site-specific closure dates.

This change brings extra significance to the studio closures that you identify on your studio’s master calendar. It means that closures you identify there apply to the ENTIRE organization, including all sites. Therefore, if you are going to establish instruction sites, remember that studio closures will apply to them as well.

For the record, the studio itself is a site, so if your home studio closes on Memorial Day but other sites do not, set your Memorial Day as a site closure, not a studio closure, and it will affect classes scheduled at the studio site, but not others.

We will be adding User Guide instructions and probably recording a video in the next few days. Please have a look at those if you wish to identify sites for your summer instruction. Or drop me a line and we will walk you through it.

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Publish Member Alerts to target audiences

We are pleased to announce that you may now compose brief messages and have them directed to parents and students in the entire studio, or to selected courses or choirs. These alerts will be visible to members who log in to their Member Portal. As such they would not replace e-mails because you cannot ensure that your clients will log in, but they would provide a complementary way for you to get information out to them.

The Member Notes link may be found under the ‘manage’ menu item. This means that at present only Studio Managers may compose them. Please do let us know if you would like us to broaden the access to Administrators.

When you click on the link, you may choose the audience for the alert. Choices at present are the whole studio, and one or more courses or course instances. If you wish for us to broaden it to events, please let us know. As an example of courses or course instances, you may choose Amy McLaren Cello and get the message displayed to all of Amy’s students, or you may choose only Amy’s students who meet on Tuesdays.

Once you have chosen the audience, you type in your alert. The alert will show up in a vibrant color at the top of the Member Portal home view. Multiple alerts will simply show up one line after another, like a bulleted list. You can delete an alert at any time.

The system records the alert, its target(s), and the person who composed/posted it. Once it is deleted though, it’s gone. This is meant to be simple, quick, transient.

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MuseMinder devises a Member Portal home view

After developing the Staff Portal we got inspired to simplify the member experience as well. We are pleased to announce a new Member Portal Home page. Your clients will now see this view as their first image when they log on to the program.

The Member Portal home view shows the following:

  • targeted messages that studio managers can create to provide short alerts and reminders to parents and students. (We will describe how to use this in a subsequent message)
  • a list of all the classes, rehearsals, and events that pertain to the person or family of the person logged in for a one-week period starting on the log-in day
  • a calendar and a set of back/forward buttons to shift the time period of the events list backward or forward in time
  • big buttons to facilitate navigation to the account view, the attendance detail report view, the download-documents view if the studio has uploaded docs, and the open enrollment view if the studio has open classes and allows self-enrollment

All of the menu items and the full calendar are available in the same places they always were. This ‘home’ view is meant to give your clients timely information at a glance.

Please let us know if you hear any feedback from your community.

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Announcing the Staff Portal

Recently we heard feedback from instructors asking us to streamline some of the views they use most often. We are pleased to announce a new home view for instructors that will give them ready information and ready access to attendance views and reports.

The Staff Portal is now the page first seen by those staffers who have Instructor and Instructor-Attendance-Only access. First off, there is a compact list of their studio obligations for the current day. Right and left arrows allow the instructor to move ahead or back by one day at a time. There is also a calendar widget to allow them to choose a specific day.

Lower down on the display are two totals that show the tally of hours of instruction. One of the tallies is the total time on the calendar for the current month. The second indicates the number of hours taught through the date selected on the calendar. If the instructor is looking at at date in mid-February, and then shifts to a date in early March, the tallies will change from February totals to calculations for March.

Please note that these tallies reflect sessions that are on the calendar with the instructor listed as either a primary or adjunct instructor. It has nothing to do with attendance. For that, the instructor can access another part of the portal, from which they can jump to any of the reports available to them. They can also jump to any of the attendance-taking views available to them.

As can be expected, the staffers who have the Instructor-Attendance-Only access level see links to attendance views, but not to reports.

Please let us know if this is helpful, but perhaps more importantly, let us know if we can improve this view in any way.

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QuickLink box for fast navigation

I just checked and saw that we have more than 100 reports. In order to make it easier for you to get to the reports that you seek, I thought that I would re-introduce a feature to you: QuickLink.

If you look at the upper part of your MuseMinder view, you will see a box on the right. When you type any set of letters into that box, the system will retrieve any entity whose name begins with the pattern. What is an entity? It is any thing that MuseMinder tracks: a student, a member, a lesson set, an account. From that result list, you can hop to the view of that entity.

Here is an example:

You have a student named Marco Cellini.
He has a mom named Francesca Cellini, and she is the account principal.
You offer a course called Amy McLaren Cello.

You type ‘cell’ into the box. You see something like this:

Cellini, Marco Student
Cellini, Marco Member
Cellini, Francesca Member
Francesca Cellini Account
Amy McLaren Cello Course

You would click on the entity name (e.g. Student, Member, Account) to go to that view for the named entity, so click on the word Member by Marco’s name, and you will end up on Marco’s member view.

Now for the coolest thing. You can now type in a report name and you will get routed right to it. Type in ‘gro’ and you will see

Gross Pay Detail Report
Gross Pay Summary Report
Gross Pay Summary calculated by attendance and group instruction Report
Gross, Terry Member (if you had a member named Terry Gross)

Now, you might be wondering whether these sensitive reports are available to just anyone, and the answer is NO. Each report has an access level. Some are visible only to the studio manager. Many are visible to studio administrators as well, and so on down the line.

And since someone with only Instructor or Instructor – Attendance Only access cannot see inside the system, the QuickLinks box is not even visible to them.

Try it out!

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