This week, I wanted to talk about parents sitting in during lesson time. Some teachers may have a strong preference about whether or not parents should attend their child’s weekly lesson, while others believe it is more situational. I came up with a good list of pros and cons for both group class settings and private lessons.
Let’s talk about parents and group classes first. At MSS, we have two early childhood classes: Treblemakers (ages 6 months to 3 years) and Merry Musicians (3-5 years). Our Treblemakers class is designed for parents and children to make music together, so of course we want the parents in class! Around age 3, students transition into our Merry Musicians preschool class without parents. Some children at this age experience separation anxiety (usually because they have never been to a class without parents before), so we understand that they may feel a little anxious. Even if the child is nervous or upset about being separated, the important thing is for parents to not join class or be visible from the classroom window. When a parent joins the class, the child remains dependent, which can hinder their learning and socialization with the other children. It’s also distracting to the other students, and oftentimes they feel as if they can’t be themselves, so the group dynamic is compromised. If you are worried that your child cannot be without you in class, that is probably a sign that they are not quite ready yet to join, so it’s best to wait a few months!
There is more gray area when it comes to parents attending private lessons. Some teachers prefer having parents attend lessons for the first year so that they are able to fully support their children at home. Parents have the opportunity to ask the teacher questions on the spot and learn what is expected (for parents do’s and don’ts during lessons, check out this article). Other teachers prefer to have families sit outside of the lesson, but reserve the last 5 minutes of class to go over the lesson with the parent. What’s nice about our studio space is that each classroom has a large window so that parents can see in at any time if they are asked to sit outside the room. This is a safety feature for both students and teachers that just puts everyone more at ease. As far as student behavior goes, I’ve seen it go both ways: some students have much better behavior when the parent is present, while others have worse behavior and are tempted to talk to the parents too much or seek attention from them. Another potential problem is when a parent and younger sibling both attend the lesson. When extra people are brought in, it just creates more distraction, especially if a parent is trying to keep the sibling entertained.
Like in group classes, the dynamic between teacher and student is sometimes compromised when parents or family attend private lessons. The student may not feel comfortable fully opening up to the teacher if the parent is there, and the teacher may feel as if they are being evaluated. In any scenario, the environment feels different when someone is observing, and it is unlikely that both people will act completely naturally. We’ve talked about how important the relationship between teacher and student is for success and longevity, so time alone between teacher and student during lessons can ensure that the rapport is built properly.
Whether or not parents sit in on the lesson is really up to the teacher, and teachers may make different decisions based on each student. If a teacher wishes to be alone with the student during the lesson, it is not something to be taken personally (in fact, I think it’s a great sign that your child is independent and well behaved!) If you’d really like to be in the lessons but your teacher would prefer to be alone, come up with a compromise, like sitting in on a lesson once every 4-6 weeks. The important takeaway is to have an honest conversation with your teacher so that both of you are happy! As a parent, what is your opinion on attending lessons?
I am super excited about our offerings this summer! There really is a little bit of something for everyone! This summer, we are hosting weekly classes for babies all the way up to big kids and summer camps for preschoolers and school-aged kids!
Our Baby & Toddler classes are an extension of what we do in our daily music classes at Little Disciples Early Learning, but WITH parents. My favorite moments of my own kids from when they were little were in our weekly music classes. There will be 8 classes from the beginning of June through the beginning of August. We’ve placed classes on Monday afternoons at the end of the workday, and on Friday mornings.
Ms. Meredith is teaching a group piano class for kids ages 4 & 5. This is a perfect way to introduce your child to the piano during the summer. The class size is small, so there will be a lot of individual attention. For students who take this class, there is an option to participate in a morning music camp with lunch in between!
Ms. Meredith is also teaching a group beginner guitar class! We’ve had a few inquiries about guitar lessons, so we thought a little intro to guitar class would be awesome during the summer!
Preschool camps are being offered 5 different weeks during June and July. Sign up for 1 or all 5- your child will love learning about any and all topics! Camp topics are Musicals, Music Around the World, Famous Composers, the Orchestra, and our ever-popular Disney Camp! Students will be learning notes, rhythms, doing crafts, and activities. These camps are definitely on the “educational” side- you won’t be disappointed!
For our bigger kids, we are offering 3 different types of camps. Musical Theatre camp is going to be a great one for anyone who loves to sing and dance! No previous musical knowledge is necessary. For our students who have been taking piano for a couple of years and want to try something different, Rhythm & Key Masters and Fun with Chords are going to be a fabulous way of taking their musical knowledge to the next level!
Are you ready to sign up yet? We are offering an incentive to sign up early before March 1st- you will receive $25 off per camper. So, don’t wait! You won’t be sorry!
All About Our Merry Musicians
I’m so excited to announce that this year we have TWO Merry Musicians classes happening at St. Joseph Catholic School! Merry Musicians is a 40 minute group class for preschoolers that covers everything from the orchestra, instruments, types of sounds, elements of music, and basic rhythms. The class curriculum was created by our very own Ms. Stathia, who has been teaching early childhood music classes for over 15 years, so our curriculum has been tested, tweaked, and approved over the years! Each class has a theme based on a letter of the alphabet and includes singing, music making with instruments, listening, craft or coloring, movement, and story time. Students will get to take home a handout listing everything we did in class that week so parents can stay in the loop and talk with their child about what they learned. Parents will also have the opportunity to observe a class at the end of each semester so they can witness all of the action firsthand!
What’s so great about Merry Musicians is that our students really do learn an incredible amount about music! Every class is well thought-out and all of the activities in class are chosen with a purpose. Students will be able to draw and identify different notes as well as read short rhythm patterns within just a few weeks. Another big focus is developing and strengthening a sense of steady beat through movement and instrument play. These skills are definitely important for later success in private instrument study, but they are also linked to cognitive development. We’ve all heard about music being great for math, but there is also quite a bit of research linking language development to music, particularly the ability to keep a steady beat. Most parents are truly amazed about what their children learn and even see them drawing notes or singing songs from class at home. As a teacher, I love being able to help lay the foundation for music appreciation and watch them continue on their musical journey as they begin private lessons. Sharing the joy of music really is a gift and it’s a win-win for both student and teacher!
Interested in signing up? You can register here on our website or feel free to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Our Tuesday class is from 2:30-3:10 with Ms. Stathia and our Wednesday class is from 2:30-3:10 with Ms. Meredith (space is limited to 8 students per class, but we do have a few openings still!)
Teaching in a big city like Dallas has its pros and cons: on the plus side, we have more potential students, more connections, and more resources. But with a larger population, that also means we have more competition. There seems to be a teacher with space in their studio around every corner. In a competitive city, it is important for us to make sure that our studio stands out amongst the rest.
One thing that differentiates us from other studios is our reward system. We’ve written about music bucks before, but I can’t say it enough- they REALLY work in helping students progress and reach their yearly goals. Students can earn Music Bucks for practicing, memorizing pieces, participating in classes outside of their lessons, or doing extra theory work. At the end of the month, they can spend (or save) their bucks to buy prizes. I’ve seen a lot of studios do prizes every 3 or 4 months or once a year, but in my experience the more often they receive rewards, the better!
Another unique feature of our studio is that our early childhood curriculum was created by us based on our teaching experience and expertise. We’ve taken the favorite songs and activities from over the years and put them into a successful program. Ms. Stathia has been teaching these classes for over 15 years, and Ms. Meredith has been teaching Music Together for over 10 years, so we really know what works. Our preschoolers learn about different instruments, cultural music, and learn to identify notes and rhythm patterns. It’s a great program that is not only educational, but helps prepare them for private lessons later.
Ms. Stathia and Ms. Meredith are also both board members of the Dallas Music Teachers Association. We feel it’s important to be active in this organization, and we make it a priority for our students to participate in DMTA events. We also encourage our students to take the state theory exam each year. Being involved in DMTA helps us stay connected in the teaching community, and elevates our expectations for our students.
And last but certainly not least, our strong relationships with our students set us apart. We really feel that building trust and a friendship with our students is what really helps them blossom, and they want to make us proud. If there is no attachment, students typically don’t care about how well they do and tend to quit. We strongly believe in the teacher/student relationship and taking time to place each student with a teacher. Our students are very special to us and it’s this bond that we cherish the most.
Not that other studios don’t feature these things, but it’s hard to find a studio that has ALL of these. If you are searching for a studio, please be sure to think about other things besides proximity and price- it is the quality of the teacher that it most important.