1. Teaching with Tunelark

Professional expectations

  • When you begin your professional relationship with Tunelark, you engage in interactions that lead to your successful studio. It starts with interviews where an Admissions Officer gets to know you. Once you become certified, you will begin communicating with the Account Managers about possible student matches. Once matched, you will be communicating with students and their families through lessons, emails, and texts. At each of these touchpoints, we expect the utmost professionalism.
  • Your studio represents the Tunelark brand. When we bring you on to the instructor roster, we trust you to follow protocols we’ve put in place to ensure your success as an instructor.
  • Tunelark professional expectations include:
    • Being at least one minute early for every lesson
    • Keeping all communications  (emails, texts, phone calls) warm, respectful, and timely.
    • Giving at least two weeks’ notice prior to any upcoming changes in your schedule.
    • Approach challenges with a positive mindset. Assume that everyone in a conversation is approaching it with the best of intentions to solve a problem or come up with a solution.


Using Tunelark’s online curriculum

The Tunelark classroom:

  • Tunelark will automatically create a classroom for you and your student to use on the platform. You will find their classroom on your dashboard when you click Classrooms.
  • You can customize the curriculum to reinforce what you are teaching in the lessons and the student can use the games as part of their practice time.
  • In addition, if your student is excited about additional enrichment, you can have them record some of their practice as an assignment and you can upload things to share with your student directly to their classroom. No more lost emails!
  • Please use this short set of videos to demonstrate your understanding of how to customize the Tunelark gaming curriculum. This should take you about 10 minutes and must be completed prior to your Studio Training session.


Managing a student’s progress on Tunelark:

  • The first step is to toggle curriculum on and off in the “Edit curriculum” section in the classroom.
  • You can create and review assignments for your student whenever is most convenient for you (before, during, or after your lessons).
  • If you need a refresher on how to use Tunelark with your students, here’s the link to the brief tutorial videos.

2. Lessons & Scheduling

Keeping lessons running smoothly

Our goal is to handle as much of the administrative work as possible so that instructors can focus on what you do best: teach music.

  • Everything instructors need to remember to do before, during, and after each lesson is laid out  in this document. (See Checklist 1 and Checklist 2)
  • The most important thing to remember is to schedule the time and date of the next lesson in your dashboard, before ending the current lesson.




Hassle-Free Matching (most common):

As long as you are in Studio Building mode, we will use Hassle-Free Matching to get you set up with lessons. We will send  your profile to students whose requests overlap with your preferences you have indicated in  THIS FORM. When the student selects you as the instructor of choice, we will set you up with an introductory lesson.


Once the introductory lesson has been scheduled, we ask that you send the student a customized email that lets them know you are excited to meet them and requests some additional information from them that will help you prepare for the lesson.


Specialized Matching (rare, but it happens):

In rare cases, we need to send a lead directly to you so you can let us know if you think that potential student is a good fit for your studio.  If you receive an email from team@tunelark.com with the subject, “New Lead!”, please do one of the following:


  • If you are available and interested in teaching the student, please respond within 24 hours (but faster is better!).
  • If you are not available/interested in teaching the student, please respond with “Not a fit.” If possible, please describe the reason so we can improve your matches.


Finding the video chat link

  • Go to com/join-lesson and click “Join lesson now”.
  • The same link is in each calendar invite.


When a student doesn’t show up to the lesson

  • If the student doesn’t show up, call them. Their number is almost always included in the calendar event description. If they don’t pick up, text them and email them (cc team@tunelark.com on that email).
  • Please remain in the video chat for 15 minutes into your scheduled lesson time in case they show up late.


Checklist 1: First lesson with a student

Before the lesson:

  • Accept the calendar event for the lesson.
  • Save the student’s phone number in your phone
    • You can usually find it in the calendar event
    • If it’s not in the calendar event, you will ask for it during the first lesson.
    • This is important for things like handling last minute scheduling conflicts.
  • Plan ahead to make sure you can join the video call from your Tunelark dashboard two minutes before the lesson.


When you’re with the student:

  • Plan the date and length of your next lesson.
    • Ask if they want to schedule a recurring weekly lesson for that time; this makes things easier for both you and for the student.
    • Tell them that Tunelark will create a calendar event for them to join.
  • If the student’s contact phone number is not listed on the calendar event, email team@tunelark.com with their phone number, after their first lesson.
  • If the student is a child and their name is not included on the calendar event, email team@tunelark.com with their name, after their first lesson.
  • Tip: Be generous with your time so the student feels welcomed.


After the lesson:

  • Schedule your next lesson(s) with the student in your dashboard.
  • If you and the student are unable to decide on the schedule for your next lesson, follow up with them via email and/or text until the next lesson is scheduled.


Bonus: For advice from a seasoned Tunelark Instructor on structuring your 1st lesson, check out this video!


Checklist 2: Lesson with an existing student

Before the lesson:

  • Accept the calendar event for the lesson.
  • Plan ahead to make sure you’re at least one minute early for the lesson.


When you’re with the student:

  • Unless you’ve already established a recurring lesson schedule with this student, please work with them to figure out a date, and time for your next lesson. Encourage them to schedule a recurring weekly lesson at that time. Tell them that Tunelark will create a calendar event for them to join. 


After the lesson:

  • Unless there is already a calendar event for the next lesson, schedule your next lesson with the student in your dashboard.
  • If you and the student are unable to decide on the schedule for your next lesson, follow up with them via email and/or text until the next lesson is scheduled.


To cancel/reschedule lessons with students

Do NOT cancel or attempt to reschedule a lesson using the Cancel/Reschedule feature on a Google Calendar invitation. This method does not alert Tunelark and will cause errors in both scheduling and your pay. 


To cancel or reschedule a lesson:

  • Log into your Tunelark account.
  • Navigate to the student’s classroom and select the gear icon in the top right corner of the lesson you want to change.
  • Select “Cancel” or “Reschedule” and complete the form.


Do not add, cancel, or reschedule lessons by email, text, or phone. You will be referred to your dashboard to make the change, causing a delay.


If you cancel a lesson less than 24 hours before the lesson is scheduled to take place, please apologize to the student and offer an explanation. We consider it unprofessional to cancel on a student at the last minute, so we highly discourage it. We have a policy in place to handle that situation just as we have a similar policy in place to protect instructors from last-minute cancelations. Here’s the policy:

  • Unless you had to cancel due to a sudden health or family emergency, we’ll offer the student a $10 discount on their next lesson. 
  • The $10 will be deducted from your payment for the next lesson you teach that student. 


If you are canceling a lesson on behalf of a student (the student has asked you to do this) with less than 24 hours notice, you will not be penalized. It’s the opposite! You will be paid unless it is deemed an emergency. 


Non-emergency fee waiver requests

Cancellation policies are in place to protect your studio income, protect your time, offer consistent service to customers, and allow Tunelark the time to manage your studio in a timely manner. If you would like to ask Tunelark to waive a lesson fee for a student/family for a non-emergency reason, please complete this form


Tunelark will review the special case and let you know if we are able to waive the lesson fee in that particular case. To forgive a lesson fee in an emergency situation, please do not fill out the form and instead reach out to the student’s  Account Manager after submitting the lesson change in your dashboard. Emergency situations will cause the lesson fee to be forgiven, per our longstanding policy.


When a new student cancels or fails to show up

  • If the student cancels or asks to reschedule with at least 24 hours’ notice:
    • We will honor their request with no penalty.
  • If the student cancels or asks to reschedule with less than 24 hours’ notice:
    • You can reschedule their lesson in your dashboard.  If they have paid the bill for their missed lesson, you will get paid for that lesson.
  • If a student is a no-show:
    • Please call/text/email them and wait in the Zoom for 15 minutes.
    • We will cancel unpaid first lessons, so keep an eye on your email to stay in the loop about any last minute changes.


When an existing student cancels or fails to show up

  • If they contact you to reschedule/cancel, feel free to agree on a plan with them and then enter the changes in your dashboard.
  • If they contact us to reschedule or cancel, we’ll add you into the conversation so you and the student can agree on a plan. Feel free to drop Tunelark out of that conversation and update the lesson in your dashboard once you and the student have decided on the change.
  • If a student is a no-show, please call/text/email them and wait in the Zoom for 15 minutes.
  • If they either flake, cancel, or ask to reschedule within 24 hours of the lesson, we require that they pay for the lesson time. Just a heads up though — we do make exceptions if the reason for the cancellation is a family or health emergency.
  • If they cancel or ask to reschedule the lesson before they enter the 24-hour window before the lesson, we will honor their request with no penalty.


Communication with students between lessons

We do tell students they can email their instructor questions that come up as they practice throughout the week. In reality, this rarely ever happens. If it does and they ask a question that has a quick answer, please try to find a minute to respond within a couple days if possible. If their question is more involved, it’s perfectly fine to say something like this: “I think it’ll be best to answer that over video chat, so I’ve made a note of your question and we can discuss it at your next lesson.”


3. Money matters

Getting paid

We’ll need to get you set up in Gusto or Stripe in order to pay you:

  • You’ll get an email from Gusto or Stripe about setting up your account. Please follow the steps to get set up before your Studio Training Session.
  • Please note: we’re not able to pay by check, so please make sure to choose the direct deposit option.

Once you’re set up, here’s how payment works:

  • We create a bill for every lesson, and we charge the customer automatically before every lesson.
  • On the Thursday after you teach a lesson, we will schedule your payment for that lesson. Your payment will then be deposited into your bank account by the following Thursday.
    • Example 1: If you teach a lesson on a Thursday, your payment will be scheduled the following Thursday and will arrive by the Thursday after that.
    • Example 2: If you teach a lesson on a Wednesday, your payment will be scheduled the following day (Thursday) and will arrive by the following Thursday.
  • We keep careful track of all lessons and payments to make sure you’re paid for every lesson you teach. That said, if you haven’t received payment for a lesson by the Thursday following two weeks since your lesson, then feel free to ask us for an update and we’ll let you know the status of that payment. Please do not check in on the status of a payment until at least that amount of time has passed. 
  • Students are required to pay in advance. If a card is declined or payment has not been received, we cannot pay the instructor. However, we will continue to follow up with the student and, if/when payment is received, the instructor will be paid. If your student refuses to pay for lessons or ignores our requests for payment, we will notify you and cancel all upcoming lessons with that student until they pay.


Rates for introductory lessons

When a student signs up to take lessons, we want to maximize the chance of landing a recurring gig. We lower the barrier to trying out a lesson by offering 50% off first lessons. The instructor receives 50% of that lower rate.

  • Example: a 30-minute introductory lesson will usually pay  $39 * 0.50* 0.5 = $9.75.


Rates for ongoing lessons

  • Default (and recommended) rates:
    • $39 for 30-minute lessons
    • $54 for 45-minute lessons
    • $68 for 1-hour lessons
  • Lessons 1 – 8 = Instructor receives 50%
  • Lessons 9+ = Instructor receives 77%
    • This model allows Tunelark to recoup the cost of advertising that was spent to bring you the student during the first 8 lessons.
  • If you’d prefer to offer different rates than the rates listed above, please email kate@tunelark.com. Our recommended rates are based on pricing research that we believe will help you optimize your studio revenue.
  • Students who have been continuously in your studio since prior to March 1st, 2022 are grandfathered in with our previous lesson prices. If a previous student has taken a break and is coming back, they will receive our new pricing since March, 2022.

4. Studio Management

Lesson credit system

  • Lesson Credits are the way that Tunelark keeps track of how many students have been introduced to your studio through our matching process. Each student represents a significant financial investment into your studio in advertising dollars and Account Manager time. To form a successful long-term business partnership with Tunelark, you will need to retain students for long enough on average that Tunelark’s investment in your studio is recouped.
  • You are given an initial investment of 10 lesson credits. Think of this as a small business loan for your online studio. After you have taught those initial 10 students, we take a moment to see how things are going. We assess the following factors:
    • Average number of lessons taught per student
    • Overall retention of students
    • Retention after the 1st lesson
    • Conversion from 2nd to 3rd lesson
    • Revenue over the past 5 months
    • Responsiveness to lead emails (we ask for a response to every lead email if you are in Studio Building mode)
    • Responsiveness and professionalism in emails to Account Managers and students regarding rescheduling and cancellations.
    • The infrequency with which you reschedule and cancel lessons, especially without 24+ hours notice. The most successful Tunelark instructors are excellent at maintaining the schedule they’ve committed to and communicating proactively with ample notice when they need to make a change. This aspect of the work is critical to running an effective online studio.


  • If your studio is growing with consistent success and attention to communication and customer relations, you will be given additional Lesson Credits.
  • If your studio needs some time to catch up to the investment, we will let you know and switch you to Studio Stable mode.
  • The assessment occurs each time you run out of Lesson Credits. Our goal is to assist you in building a reliable source of income doing what you love. Your professionalism with consistent punctuality, excellent lesson planning and teaching, and outstanding communication with your students and Tunelark will provide the foundation for long-term success.


Pausing new students

If you have enough students for the moment and no longer wish to receive new leads or students, just email team@tunelark.com and we will put you in Studio Stable mode. We’ll stop reaching out about new teaching opportunities until you ask to return to Studio Building mode.

You can switch back and forth between Studio Stable and Studio Building mode at any time, and we deeply appreciate it when instructors keep us updated as soon as their needs change!


Becoming qualified to teach another instrument

  • Getting certified to teach another instrument is simple:
    • Click here to fill out a brief application including an informal video of you playing the instrument.
    • The video does not need to be fancy and you don’t have to play perfectly! It can be a simple video recorded quickly on your phone.
    • If you would like to add to your profile a high quality YouTube or Vimeo video of you performing on this new instrument, you may do that as well. Remember, however, that you are limited to three videos on your profile.
    • Make sure that your profile details all of the instruments you are certified to teach.


5. Time Away

Taking time off

Tunelark appreciates the need for instructors to take time off for vacations and/or travel gigs and performances. To keep your studio thriving, Tunelark will provide your students with a substitute instructor during your time away. This gives the student continuity in their studies as well as an opportunity to benefit from fresh ideas. However, it will be made clear that the student is returning to your studio upon your return.


As soon as you know the dates you will be away, please do the following:

  • Determine which students will be affected.
  • Write an email to those students AND to team@tunelark.com with the important details.
    •  Here is a sample email:

BCC: janedoe@yahool.com, team@tunelark.com, travistritt@yahoo.com, sallysmothers@aol.com

Subject: Upcoming time away from Tunelark


Dear Students and Tunelark,


I will be traveling from (Dates you will be away) to play and speak at the Hendersonville Folk Music Festival. After checking the schedule, I will not be able to teach  during that time. I apologize for having to miss lessons those two weeks. Tunelark will be setting you up with a substitute teacher while I’m gone and I look forward to starting back up upon my return!


Musically yours,

Cynthia Bergen, guitar instructor


(Note: If you are emailing more than one student, please use the BCC method. Using BCC, you can add all the email addresses of your students but they only see their own. This protects the privacy of families and allows you to write one email instead of individual emails.)


Preparing for a substitute

After you let us know the dates, someone from the account management team will send you a notice requesting the following information for each student.

  • Student name
  • Date of each lesson you’ll be unavailable to teach
  • Student’s  instrument, skill level, and goals
  • What have you been working on with the student lately?
  • Anything else the sub should know?


Don’t spend more than a few minutes answering these questions for each student. Brief answers with actionable guidance for the substitute teacher are sufficient.


6. Extra

Referring another instructor

Thanks for recommending Tunelark. We prioritize personal referrals whenever adding new instructors to the community! Please ask them to introduce themselves here: instructor-application.


Independent Contractor Agreement

To work with Tunelark, instructors are required to sign an Independent Contractor Agreement to acknowledge that they will be paid as a 1099 contractor. As stated in the contract, instructors are allowed to work with other entities as well as Tunelark. However, it is expressly agreed that all students brought to the instructor’s studio by Tunelark will remain Tunelark customers throughout the course of their studies with that instructor.  Instructors are not permitted to make external lesson/payment arrangements with any students whom they meet through Tunelark. 


Leaving Tunelark

We appreciate your time working with us and will of course understand and support your decision if your career moves in another direction. When instructors decide to transition away from Tunelark, we strive to make the transition as seamless as possible for students by matching them with a new instructor as quickly as possible. Here’s what we ask of you:

  • Please provide at least two weeks notice (more if possible) if you need to leave the instructor roster. Email team@tunelark.com to let us know what your last teaching day will be with Tunelark.
  • Email your students AND team@tunelark.com to announce that you will be taking a new position and that Tunelark will be matching them with another instructor. This important email will help the account manager with the new matching process.
  • Email kate@tunelark.com with the following right away:
    • Name(s) of student(s)
    • Their email(s) used on the Google Calendar invitations
    • Approximate age of the student (child, teen, adult)
    • Material that the student is currently working on with you and their musical goals


We will use this important information as we work to match your student with a new instructor.