Parents involvement in music lessons

If your child has begun piano lessons or voice lessons you may be wondering how you personally can best help your child achieve the best results.  The level of parental involvement in private voice or piano is widely debated amongst teachers and there is not a great deal of evidence to support firmly for it or against.  However, if you think through the issues as well as getting student and teacher involvement you should be able to arrive at the right balance for you are your family.  Every child and every family is different in how they interact with each other and how they learn each of the following points presented has pros and cons that would need to be evaluated per family.  Think carefully through the following to help your student get the most out of their lessons and for you to get the most out of your investment.

The decision of whether or not parents should be present at their childs’ lesson is a hard one.  There are a large number of teachers who have policies of not having parents present while they teach and an almost equal number of teachers who requires parents to be present. This is due largely to the teachers’ preference and the teachers personality.  Some teachers do not like the added pressure of a parent looking over their shoulder while others like the often improved behavior displayed by the student.

There are two very distinct groups of students, those who behave better when a parent is in the room and those who do not.   Having parents attend lessons often forces a student into better behavior because they will find more consequences to bad conduct.  On the reverse end of this argument the threat of the parent being present can inhibit creativity if the student is too afraid of upsetting them.  There are also students that appear to take lessons much more seriously if they are one on one with the teacher as they view it as a step toward adulthood and independence to participate in an event between them and an adult that is not their parent. If you are unsure of which category your child falls into I suggest trying it both ways for one or two lessons then talking directly to the teacher to see what worked better.

If the parent does decide to observe lessons especially with a younger student they can be more active in their daily practice times.  Good practice habits are very important to a child musical development.  A parent can help establish focused practice times that a student will continue as they progress and move to be more independent of their parents.  This is a skill they will take with them through life and contributes greatly to their success not just as a musician.  Parents often remember more from what a teacher said during a lesson and can remind their student what they learned at home.  If you choose to participate in your childs practice time try very hard not to make it a chore for them.  If they learn to love music they will stick with their lessons if practice becomes a dreaded time it will do more harm then good.  Be sure to be encourage to your child and try to make practice time with them a bonding experience that they can enjoy.  I highly recommend fathers especially being involved with practice time.  Since the father is usually around less than the mother time with him is often precious to a student.  His presence and involvement in practice teaches the child that music is very important and that it is important to their father that they do well in lessons.  I hate to say it mothers but when a father encourages their child musically it tends to go much farther than when it comes from just the mother.

Even if a parent is not directly present during practice times they can certainly help a student remember to practice daily.  Parents can also help motivate students to practice as well.  I do not always encourage parents bribing their children to practice but if it helps why not give it a try.  I have a number of parents who will give their child a reward at the end of the week if they meet their practice goals.  This does not have to be a big thing some student are often much more productive with the simple reward of putting a sticker daily or weekly on a practice chart that their parents have drawn up.  Other rewards that my parents have used would be a dinner at the students favorite restaurant or even an iphone cover.  Basically if it works for your student and you can afford it why not give it a try.  I have found that this works very well for younger students and as they get older they outgrow their need for outside encouragement to stick to regular practice.  You can also use this as a life lesson about working to accomplish goals.

 

If you have decided it best not to participate in practice time or at lessons it may be the right decision for your child however be sure to be as encouraging as possible to your student.  If a parent thinks that studying music is a waste of time be sure that that feeling will pass on to your child.  Taking piano or voice lessons should be a joint decision among parents and both should be encouraging in turn.  Always talk to your spouse before having your child begin lessons and decide how you are going to encourage and support your child even though sometimes you certainly will not feel like it. Recent studies show that it is highly unlikely a student will reach quality musical achievement without having encouragement and support from parents.  It is not important that a parent understand music or can make profound observations about their child musical endeavors it is simply important that your child knows their music study is important to you and that you will support their musical growth for years to come.

Your best ally is your teacher.  Be sure to communicate with your teacher and discuss your level of involvement at lessons.  Keep in mind that teachers often have a great deal of experience and can usually tell within a few minutes whether you should or should not be present in lessons.  Parents often feel that asking teachers questions will be a bother to them.  Do not let this deter you most teachers love it when parents are involved and would generally be thrilled if you ask them questions.  Be sure to keep this in moderation no teacher will be appreciate being interrupted on their weekends.  However you most certainly can take a few minutes of their time to evaluate how much they should be practicing, how you can help, and it is often a good idea to reevaluate your attendance at lessons.  As children get older you may find that you are no longer helpful sitting in on lessons and vice versa.  A constant level of communication with the teacher is extremely important and will help to keep you, your student, and the teacher satisfied.

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