Did that title make you shudder? Resist the urge to wrinkle your nose and say “Not for me, thanks.” Allow me to convince you why… and then show you how!
Piano Parent Participation Day should happen once per term in your piano teaching studio. It’s a day where one parent is invited to come into the lesson with his or her child.
The parent is not invited in as an observer, but rather as a full-on participant in the piano lesson process.
Here’s Why Piano Parent Participation Day Rules!…
1. Your piano kids will be super excited. They thrive on opportunities to spend quality time with Mom or Dad. Special occasions like this are something that children look forward to for weeks. It will provide some excitement for them when thinking of piano lessons… and that is always a good thing.
2. Your Piano Parents will gain insight into what happens behind that studio door. You can have the most amazing lessons and activities, but unless you open that door and show them off, your piano parents will get the standard “Good!” when they ask how their child’s lesson was. Details are not the specialty of an 8 year old.
3. Your Piano Parents may just learn something! Parents of piano students these days are less and less likely to have a musical background. This means that they feel like a fish out of water when it comes to helping their child at home. Giving them just a few basic skills can help them sort things out even just a little bit if needed at home.
Okay, I’m Convinced… But How Do I Do This?
For those of you who have heart palpitations when you think of someone watching you teach, relax. This lesson is not about the parents observing you. It’s about your child sharing the piano lesson experience. Make sure you do the following things when setting up your very own Piano Parent Participation Day:
1. Be uber-prepared. You should have every minute of the lesson pre-planned so there are no awkward moments when you all wonder “What now?”
2. Choose a special piece to involve both parent and child. In the weeks leading up to Piano Parent Participation Day teach your student the right hand only of a tune that both they and their parent would recognize (my go-to pieces are almost always the Beatles!) Keep it short and very simple. In the lesson, help your student to teach their parent how to play simple solid 5ths to accompany their child playing the melody line. It will be as though you turned a Fake Book or lead sheet into a duet (each person only playing with one hand). You will be stunned at how often they end up playing this at home afterwards!
3. Have your child teach a mini-lesson. Students will get a kick out of being the teacher. Allow them to use your chair and your supplies. Give them a primer-level child’s book to use with their adult companion (humor is the best ice-breaker here) and have them teach their parent to play a piece from the beginning of the book from start to finish. In the weeks leading up to this special day go over the procedure with your student about how to approach a new piece. Teach them to teach… the payoffs in other areas of their learning will be HUGE.
4. Keep it light hearted. The activities you complete during the lesson time should not be arduous by any means. This is about parent and child bonding on the bench. I use activities from “Shhh…Your Piano Teacher Thinks This is Practice” to get them laughing. This book makes it simple for me to plan the evening (I just push print!) but it makes it seem as though I have spent days planning fun activities.
5. Commemorate the event! This is news-worthy… so capitalize on that! Make sure to take pictures for your studio website or Facebook page (with permission). Create a waiting-area display afterwards. Then, send personalized photo post-cards in the mail with a “Thank you for visiting!” slogan. Send your Piano Parents home with a nice copy of the piece they learned to play with their child on card stock or even laminated. Little details make a difference and your hard work will be rewarded in many ways.
6. Part with a gift. Send your Piano Parents home with a little goody bag. I go with a “you and me ” theme… a Twix chocolate bar (easy to share!), a pair of those stretchy winter gloves to keep their newly exercised fingers warm, a small photo frame for the picture you will take. It doesn’t need to be expensive by any means… just thoughtful.
Have I convinced you completely? What if I mentioned the insane possibilities for adding these adults to your studio as future students? Or the word-of-mouth machine on the playgrounds of your neighborhood as they recount the evening? Or the fact that Piano Parents who have participated in lessons gain a first-hand look at how piano lessons really make a difference to their child and are less likely to let lessons go by the wayside in exchange for sporting activities? I could go on and on… but you should really get planning