I’m on a one-woman mission to get my piano parents more involved in the lesson process. Too many times my piano kids just charge out the door to a parent waiting in the car. Sure it’s easy this way, and I know that often parents have a second activity to get to or a baby sleeping in the car seat… but I also know that parents who are involved in even a little bit of the piano lesson process become more committed to the lesson experience as a whole.
So, I’ve been asking my piano parents to knock and come in for the last 5 minutes of their child’s lesson. It’s a great chance to connect with those parents whom I don’t see all of the time and it’s been a really valuable tool in home practice success.
5 Things in 5 Minutes
If you too want your piano parents to be involved just that bit more, then give this a shot. For the most success, be sure your parents know they are coming in just for the final 5 minutes and that they will be getting 5 pieces of info from you (this cuts down on small-talk and chatter).
Also know that these last 5 minutes are not spent simply talking. The lesson is very much in action and the student is still engaged with the piano. Each of the following points can be quietly referenced as the student showcases a piece, demonstrates a skill, or explains her understanding.
Here’s what your piano parents should take note of in these final 5 minutes.
1. One amazing accomplishment that happened during the lesson time – Make it specific and show them exactly what “miracle” took place. Their child should be reaching goals, learning skills and discovering new abilities each lesson – so choose one and highlight it. Have the child demonstrate if applicable.
2. This week’s repertoire – You’d be surprised at how many parents have no idea where in the book their child is currently playing (or even what book!). Physically show the parent the book, what page and what section (if applicable).
3. Starting Position – This is a hurdle for many piano students and it can interrupt a week’s worth of practice. Emailing a picture of starting position is helpful, but verbally describing and visually showing the parent (while the child listens) is also a really great idea. Not only will mom and dad start to figure out how to help at home, but the child listens with a different set of ears when two adults are talking… it may just click for him sooner.
4. Specific “Work-ons” – Choose no more than 2 things you want your parent to be listening for during home practice. Write them at the top of your students’ music, but also describe to them what it is (briefly… they don’t need a pedagogy lesson).
5. Long-term goals – Recital coming up? Video recording? Special studio event? Now’s the time to remind them of long-term goals for their child no matter how small.
I know there is a lot to squeeze into an already busy lesson, but setting up effective home practice could be the most important component of every lesson. The piano students who progress and perform the best are the same students who have mastered home piano practice. And its up to us to help our students AND their parents achieve this mastery.
Motivation is the Final Piece of the Puzzle
Once the parents are on board, the piano practice battle is nearly won. But to achieve true success your piano students must also be self-motivated to want to practice. One way to inspire your piano kids to practice is to include the hilarious supplementary activities from our guide Shhhh… Your Piano Teacher Thinks This Is Practice. With recital season just around the corner, you need a secret weapon like this to guarantee those kiddos aren’t ignoring home piano practice.