If you’re not used to having parents sit in on piano lessons, but then there is one who asks, “Can I stay and watch?” What do you do?
When we’re trying to get parents on board with being an active participant in their child’s piano education it seems counter productive to refuse their lesson involvement. But… it can be really awkward (for some) to be teaching while another person is watching, and often the child behaves differently than he or she would without Mom or Dad in the room.
So what are you to do?! Well, begin by checking out our tips below... and even if you don’t have piano parents sitting in on lessons you’ll probably find yourself inviting them in every now and again 🙂
Making Parents An Active Participant in The Lesson Process
Many teachers complain that parents who sit in on lessons interrupt, distract, chat or (even worse) text during lesson time. But with a clear plan in mind of how to make the parents an active participant in the lessons, you can actually gain a lot of benefit from them being there.
Check out our list below for how parents can become a welcome addition to the piano lesson process.
1) Your note-taker: My mom sat in on my lessons from the age of 5-8 and she took all of the lesson notes for my piano teacher (it was actually required of her). This way, she knew exactly what she was doing when it came to my home practice time because she was well informed of what needed to be accomplished. Have a well-organized lesson sheet ready (check out our free printable ones here) and ask the parent to listen to the feedback you give their child during the lesson and then make notes as to what to practice.
2) A Piano Game Companion: Add some bonding time to the lesson by including the parent as the 2nd player in your piano games. If they can’t read music or don’t know the concept, it’s actually better. Each time it is “their turn” their child can explain to them what needs to be done and why. Teaching someone else is a wonderful way to learn. Your student will actually be reinforcing their knowledge twice during the game (once during their own turn and then again as they help Mom or Dad).
3) A Cheering Squad: I have silly signs in my studio that I give to parents if I invite them in on a lesson. They say things like “Holy Smokes You’re on Fire!” and “I Have Goosebumps.” I want my piano parents to be undyingly encouraging and supportive and these signs communicate this in a humorous way. Make your own based on your own sense of humor and ask the parent to hold up their choice of sign at any point during the lesson to give some warm fuzzies to their child. This usually results in a lot of laughter and an all-round “good” feeling during lesson time.
4) A media-collector: I use a lot of audio recording, video recording and photos that I send home with students as practice aids. Pass on these tasks to Mom or Dad, and you now have a free hand/voice to assist even further as you audio or video record or create pictures (hand position, posture etc.) that can be emailed or texted to the parent to help at home.
5) A motivator: This one is a silent job that the parent doesn’t even know they have… but they act as your motivator to provide the absolute best lesson you can. Knowing someone is observing keeps you on your toes, encourages you to mix up your teaching practices and inspires you to use new materials and resources. What feels awkward is usually being unprepared or unsure. With your “silent motivator” in the room, you’ll be sure to be uber-prepared and confident… and this leads to better teaching all round.
Parents Are Our Partners!
Another fabulous spin-off of having parents sit in on lessons (if they are an active and helpful participant) is that the bond between teacher and parent quickly becomes quite strong. If a parent sees first-hand how fun, engaging, and knowledgeable you are as a piano teacher, most of the typical “piano teacher headaches” we all deal with daily will become a distant memory.
So… the next time parents ask if they can sit in on a lesson, welcome them with open arms… and a job list!
If you want to keep the ball rolling and continue parent involvement at home then you’ll definitely want to check out our story-based technique resource, TEDDtales. Even if your piano parents have no musical ability at home, TEDDtales can help them to help their children have a blast with technical exercises. You can learn all about TEDDtales here.