This tops the list as one of the most-asked piano teaching questions; “How can I keep the parents of my piano students involved?”
While this answer may not work for every single instance… I have found that inspired, invested and involved piano parents are informed piano parents.
Piano parents typically aren’t as involved in the piano lesson process as they are in other extracurricular activities. Do you ask your parents to cheer on their child as they play piano in the pouring rain every Saturday morning? Are they selling pop at a concession stand in your piano studio? Do they flog chocolate almonds door-to-door to raise money for the newest equipment or the latest uniform? Are they keeping track of the latest belt, badge or time score from the latest inter-club competition? I’m guessing not. And this might just be the problem…
The Missing Link in Piano Parent Involvement
The very nature of piano lessons means that it “appears” as though parental involvement is not necessary. Their child arrives at lessons – we say a quick hello and we shut the studio door. We don’t ask much from our parents, and so they do exactly what we’ve asked them to do. They drop off their children, they attempt to make practice happen at home, they come to piano recitals.
But the catch is, we as piano teachers really do want more! We want enthusiastic involvement in piano practice at home that is on par with a cheering for a soccer goal! We want a team of piano parents who are as passionate about piano lessons as they are about ordering the correct gymnastics leotards. We want parents to know what book level, what pieces and what goals their child is currently working towards… and chocolate almonds wouldn’t hurt 😉
Piano Parent 101
We are up against a huge obstacle when it comes to encouraging piano parent involvement… the majority of our piano parents don’t know the first thing about the piano. They know when to cheer at soccer because it’s clear when a goal has been scored. If someone doesn’t fall in cheerleading, it’s clearly a job well-done. Piano can be a mysterious thing for non-musical parents, and it’s up to us to change this.
If you are doing these 4 things in your piano studio you’ll be well on your way to piano parent paradise:
1. Clearly communicate what is happening in your studio – You absolutely must have some sort of online presence be it a blog, a Facebook page or a way of texting your studio as a group. If you haven’t yet embraced social media, then at the very least send home a hard-copy newsletter monthly.
2. Invite piano parents into the lesson frequently – You don’t need parents to stay for the entire lesson, but a sneak peek at what their child does in lesson time with you is always appreciated. What are theory games anyway? How do you compose with an 8 year old? Show them…often!
3. Don’t just encourage practice… encourage family practice – Ensure that at least one task for your piano students’ weekly practice involves some, if not all, of their family. Give piano parents the opportunity to be involved by making it very clear exactly what they need to do. If they have instructions they’ll rise to the occasion.
4. Give piano parents bragging rights – Find meaningful ways to frequently recognize their child for musical accomplishments. Piano goals reached are not as flashy as are karate belt levels, national swimming records or a really great back flip… but they should be celebrated as largely. Piano parents can’t be enthusiastic about something unless you tell them what that something is.
Involved, invested and inspired piano parents make all the difference to a child’s musical education. If you’re feeling frustrated about the lack of commitment, enthusiasm or interest, remember that you likely haven’t asked for it! Find effective ways of informing your piano parents and you’ll likely see a very positive shift.
More Creative Ways To Encourage Family Music
Stuck for ways to involve the whole family in practice time? Our book “Pssst…Your Piano Teacher Thinks This is Theory” includes tonnes of printable pages that reinforce theory concepts and encourage everyone to get involved in the fun. Print a page per week, hand it out to everyone and watch your parental involvement in your studio change!