How involved are the parents in your piano studio? Do you give them specific roles or just expect them to generally help out?
Parents have a huge part to play in a child’s success at the piano. When a piano parent is involved, supportive and encouraging their child learns better.
Quite often though, the only role a piano parent knows how to play is “cheerleader”. They celebrate their child’s success (which is fantastic!)…but they might not know how to help them achieve the next one.
Piano parents can be so much more than cheerleaders.
They can be participants in the learning, practice coaches, and promoters.
When piano parents are involved in lots of different ways not only does the child learn better, but the whole family is more invested. If they see every step of the way, the struggles and the proud smiles, they’re more likely to help their child persist when it gets tough.
Piano Parent Participants
This is not for every teacher, but when it works it’s wonderful.
Have your piano parents sit in on lessons. You can do this every week, or just during special parent weeks.
Once you have them there don’t just tell them to sit and watch. There are lots of ways for them to get involved, even if they have no musical knowledge.
- Play music game giving the parent a cheat sheet if they need it (if you’re looking for music theory games try here).
- Play a duet with a very simple part for the parent.
- Have your student play an accompaniment while the parent improvises.
- Ask them to take notes about home practice.
- Have them video record bits and pieces as a memory aide.
- Ask your student to teach a new concept to their parent after you’ve taught it to them.
- Ask your student to teach their parent all the concepts they already know in a new piece.
- For young students ask the parent to be the “pointer”.
- Have the parent be the rhythm section playing a rhythm instrument and/or counting while the student plays.
- If you have a performance ready piece (or do anytime, anywhere, anyone pieces) sit with the parent in the audience while the student performs. Include walking up and bowing if prepping for a recital.
These are a few ideas to get you started, I’m sure you can think of tons more. The important part is that while the parent is there, they have an active job. This is not iPhone time, but if you don’t give them a specific role that’s what it will become.
Piano Parent Practice Coaches
This is probably the most crucial piano parent role, especially in the beginning stages. It’s also the role that non-musical parents either don’t know about or are wary of.
I don’t want my studio to be biased against non-musical parents. Every family should be able to participate, no matter their background.
That’s why I give very clear and specific steps for the student to follow at home. The parent’s job is to help them follow the steps.
They don’t even need to read music to do this. Just asking questions can be very helpful.
“What did your teacher want you to do next?”
“What did you talk about in the lesson with this piece?”
“What did you need to watch out for in this assignment?”
Don’t expect your piano parents to know what questions they should ask. Be clear and explicit when you explain the part they have to play.
Make sure they feel confident and up to the task of helping out at home.
There are even more ways for piano parents to get involved in practice in the Piano Practice Turbo-booster. If you haven’t already, you can grab that for free at the bottom of this post.
Piano Parent Promoters
It’s not just the parents that can celebrate your student’s successes. Make sure your student has multiple piano cheerleaders by turning your piano parents into promoters.
There are many ways you can achieve this, but here are a few to get you started:
- Hand out recital tickets to parents so they can invite family and friends.
- Video (with permission) your student playing their favourite piece and ask the part to send it on the friends and family.
- Take photos (with permission) of different accomplishments such as finishing a book or passing an exam. Send these to parents or share them on social media, asking the parents to tag other family members.
- If your students compose their own music record an audio file of their piece. You can send this directly to the parents or upload it to SoundCloud so it can be shared with friends and family.
All parents love to show-off their children’s achievements. By making them into piano parent promoters, you’re allowing to enjoy this proud feeling for every little success their child has at the piano.
What roles do piano parents play in your studio?
What’s your favourite way to get them involved? What new idea did you learn about or get inspired by in today’s post?