Ask any piano teacher what they would desire most from their students, and across the board, the answer will be “regular practice”. Piano teachers spend large amounts of creative energy inspiring their piano students to hit the piano at home. Cute lesson assignment pages, practice incentives, fun practice tasks, enjoyable music, reward systems, 40-piece challenges… they are all designed to make practice happen.
To have happily progressing piano students you need happily practicing piano students.
But there is another integral part of the puzzle when it comes to home practice: parental involvement. No matter the age of your students, they will need support at home. This support can come in many forms depending on your students’ ages and needs; on-the-bench help, setting up practice routines, providing reminders, or offering encouragement.
Involved parents are key. Teachers should spend as much energy inspiring piano studio parents as they do piano students. Wondering how to do this?
Today we’re sharing 19 ways you can increase parental involvement in your studio. Pick the ideas from our list that suit your own style, and then be consistent. Improving parent participation in practice should be viewed as a long-term, continuing project.
19 Ways To Inspire Parental Involvement In Your Piano Studio
- Host open houses: For your piano parents to want to be involved, they need to be informed. If you find that parents are too busy to read your written communications, face-to-face contact is the way to go. Start each term off with an in-person meeting. This can take the shape of a larger event where all parents attend, or a scheduled one-on-one time. This is your opportunity to build relationships, explain your studio, and get parents excited about lessons.
- Plan special events: Several times a year offer a “special event” at your studio. This can be as involved or as simple as you choose. Check out this teacher’s idea for a backyard piano recital. You can also plan “group outings” to local musical events, family piano game nights, or drop-in, open-house recitals,
- Celebrate a “Student of the Month”: All parents love to see their children recognized for their efforts. Choosing a “Student of the Month” gives a boost of enthusiasm and a renewed sense of investment in the lesson experience. Student of the Month doesn’t always have to be the student who is progressing the most. You can have a “Composer Of The Month” or a “Duet Partner Of The Month” or an “Improv Star Of The Month”. Be creative and spread the rewards around your studio as evenly as possible.
- Make phone calls: As easy as it is to email, phone calls are still a very effective way of building relationships. Create a plan to call each students’ parents once every three months for a quick update/check-in. Parents who are informed and who are given the opportunity to ask questions, bring up concerns or share in the great things their children are doing are parents who are more invested in the overall process.
- Ask for involvement in recitals: Recitals can be stressful to plan, so ask for help! Giving piano parents specific jobs for your recitals gives them a sense of connectedness to the event and is a great way for them to get to know other parents in your studio. If you prefer to plan your event “solo” give your piano parents jobs that contribute to their children’s readiness for the recital instead. Read more about that here.
- Host a “Bring a Parent” Day: Regularly inviting piano parents into lesson time is a great way to connect with parents who may typically just “drop-off and pick-up” from lessons. Give plenty of notice to allow for busy schedules and get your students on board with the excitement. Bring a Parent Day can mean involving Mom or Dad in lesson tasks or simply having them be a happy observer to their children’s learning. Find out more about this topic here.
- Give parents specific weekly tasks: Simply asking parents to “help with practice” is not as effective as asking parents to do something specific. Be clear in what you need from your piano parents and give them the tools to be able to accomplish it. Show your piano parents how to use the method book as a resource, offer the opportunity for them to email or call you if they have a question, and give them one or two clearly-defined things they can do to assist their children (for example: “Cassidy often has trouble finding her starting position for this piece. Let me take a photo of what her hands should look like and I’ll text it to you. Can you double-check that she’s correct for the first three days of her practice at home?”)
- Thank involved parents regularly: Take the time to recognize and thank your piano parents who are actively participating in their children’s learning. A genuine thank you goes a long way!
- Have an online presence: Regularly maintain a Facebook or Instagram account for your studio. Your piano parents are likely online several times a day, and if they are given a peek into the awesome things that are happening in your studio, they’ll feel a sense of pride in being associated with it. If you are uncomfortable with sharing student photos, instead share relevant articles, photos of your materials and books, hands-only videos, etc.
- Build a feeling of community in your studio: Adjust the way you communicate studio news to be more inclusive. Use language that refers to your studio as a community or a team.
- Adopt a “quick text” routine: Get into the habit of quickly texting parents a note of encouragement after a particularly great lesson. At TeachPianoToday we make this easy with eye-catching and professional Warm N’ Fuzzy Text Message Images. Read more about them here.
- Send home piano games: If you use piano games in your studio, a great way to involve parents in home practice is to have a game-lending library. Send home a new piano game each week for students to play with Mom or Dad. Be cognizant of your non-musical parents and send home games that can be easily explained. Your piano parents will not only gain knowledge they can then use to help with home practice, but they’ll have some quality time with their children on a music-related task… win-win! If you have a particularly busy family, send home one of our TeachPianoToday homework sheets instead, but with the directions to complete it with a parents’ assistance. Get access to our free library of homework sheets here.
- Encourage collaboration in your studio: Be sure that you are offering opportunities for your piano students to collaborate with other students in your studio. This helps to build a sense of community by giving your students and their parents the opportunity to meet other students and parents. Collaboration can be as simple as duet pairings or as elaborate as group piano parties.
- Be organized: Parents are busy. Avoid causing any stress or frustration by always giving lots of notice for studio events, being organized in the way you operate your studio, starting and finishing lessons on time and following predictable schedules for things like payment.
- Be inclusive: Many piano parents feel as though they can’t possibly help their children at home due to their lack of musical knowledge. Be inclusive in how you communicate with parents by not assuming understanding of musical concepts. Avoid alienating parents who are concerned about their lack of musical experience.
- Say goodbye to students AND parents: Always accompany your students out of the lesson room to say goodbye in person to parents. As you do so, give two specific things their children did well in lessons and one “wish” for something that they can work on at home. Read more about the perfect “piano student send-off” here.
- Actively build relationships and be personable: Relationship-building with your piano families is key to having piano parents who are invested in the lesson process. Make a point of being personable in your communications, of remembering birthdays, of knowing names of your students’ siblings, etc. This really makes a big difference.
- Ask for input: While it can initially feel threatening to ask for feedback, knowing is always better than guessing. Regularly ask your piano parents for input. Find out what your parents need from you so they can be more involved and make the necessary changes. Be specific when asking for input. For example: “Does your child find it easy to know what to practice each week?”
- Attend student events when you can: A fantastic way to strengthen connections with your studio families (and therefore their involvement in lessons) is to get to know your students outside of the studio setting. When you can, attend your students’ sporting events, school plays or other things that are important to them. Find out more about this here.
Putting In The Time Reaps Rewards
The best action plan for parent involvement is to pick two or three of the ideas above and run with them. Be consistent, and don’t be discouraged if your efforts don’t produce results immediately. With time, your piano parents will begin to feel more connected, more equipped, more informed and more involved and that’s when the piano practice magic begins to happen!