I came across a wonderful post on Facebook from another piano teacher, Jennifer Shambaugh, which inspired the topic for the blog this week. I always knew parent involvement was critical for progress, but she presented some concrete ways of how parents can help their child succeed at home:
“1. Be in the know: If you do not sit in the lesson, it’s good to sit down with your child after every lesson and look at their assignment book. Be sure you know what they are supposed to be practicing and what performance pieces they are to be preparing. This will help you assist your child with practice even if you don’t play an instrument.
2. Set a practice routine: Set a specific time for each day of practice; keep it at the same time every day they practice. Be sure your child is fulfilling the required days and times of practice, and begin practice no later than the day after their lesson to help remember what the teacher taught. It is vital that the parent sets the schedule and makes sure it is kept.
3. Let your child do it: Never allow anyone or yourself to do your child’s written homework. If your child needs help, assist as necessary but don’t do the work for them. If you do it for them, they will not learn the concepts needed to learn to play the piano. If you feel it’s best the teacher help your child, then leave the work unfinished until their next lesson.
4. Don’t quit: Don’t allow your child to quit lessons just because it gets difficult; there will be times on and off throughout music study where it becomes difficult for everyone. This is the time where you are most needed! Be there for your child, encourage them, have confidence in them, and give them positive feedback to get through it.
5. Share their music: Allow your child to play for friends, family, or in recitals and competitions. Not only will it build your child’s self-esteem, it will also give your child a sense of accomplishment.
6. Have fun: Allow and encourage your child to play their instrument outside of their practice time to explore or play things that are not part of their lesson; it keeps music fresh for them. Ask your child to play their music for you, and be sure to sit and listen then applaud or praise them for their accomplishments.”
It was also interesting that at the last Dallas Music Teachers Association meeting I attended, the topic was “Making the Most of Every Minute: A Practical Guide to Student Practice”, presented by Dr. Chris Fisher. He showed us some interesting statistics: in regards to piano work, one 30 min lesson per week is 0.3% of the child’s schedule, so that means 99.7% of their time is at home without the teacher. He really stressed that after the lesson, the parent becomes the “home teacher”, and that the piano torch is passed to them once the lesson is over. Parent involvement really does make or break a student as far as how much they progress.
Please know that your teacher is there for you if you have questions, need help setting a practice schedule, or are struggling with something. We are more than happy to help and only want to see you or your child succeed in lessons!