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#1754829 - 09/18/11 05:15 PM Parents sitting in on EVERY lesson :(
chasingrainbows Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/19/06
Posts: 1128
Loc: NJ
Since I work in a store, I handle situations somewhat differently than if I worked in my own home. Recently, I've acquired several students, age 4-6. Initially, the parent sat in on lessons, however, it has been over 6 months now, and parents are still making a weekly habit of this. I've suggested kindly that they could sit outside the room (rooms have full glass doors) occasionally, but they have various reasons - my child likes me in there, or they can interpret what goes on in the lesson easier than the child can (I do write everthing in their assignment books). Of course, there are days when two parents are in the room (room is about 5 X 8), and I can't move around the room at all. Recently, one mom brought along her 5 year old child. It's getting out of control, and I'm finding myself now wondering if these parents lack confidence in me. Would they sit in on swim or ballet lessons I wonder? Do they attend school with their children? It's intrusive and IMO affects the relationship I am trying to build with the student. Any suggestions or input is appreciated.

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#1754842 - 09/18/11 05:29 PM Re: Parents sitting in on EVERY lesson :( [Re: chasingrainbows]
Stanny Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/08/06
Posts: 1461
Extra people in the room are just unacceptable (unruly little sibling). I would send them an email asking them not to do it again.

I find that too many people in the room are distracting as well. However, for a child of four, I would be very glad the parent was there to watch and learn.
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Independent Music Teacher
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#1754845 - 09/18/11 05:32 PM Re: Parents sitting in on EVERY lesson :( [Re: chasingrainbows]
chasingrainbows Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/19/06
Posts: 1128
Loc: NJ
Yes, I only have one new student who is 4, and feel the mom should be there. But for students 6 to 7, it is starting to get on my last nerve after 6 months.

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#1754847 - 09/18/11 05:39 PM Re: Parents sitting in on EVERY lesson :( [Re: chasingrainbows]
music32 Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/07/07
Posts: 1205
Loc: Berkeley, California
Yes, I would agree about parent presence for a 4, 5 or even 6 year old, but bringing an unruly sib is totally unacceptable. I've had situations where at the first consult, a toddler is brought screaming and I usually tell the parent we have to reschedule.
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#1754848 - 09/18/11 05:39 PM Re: Parents sitting in on EVERY lesson :( [Re: chasingrainbows]
BlackNWhiteKeys Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/29/11
Posts: 44
I've got a 7 year old taking lessons, for just about a year. At first the lessons were in the teacher's home. I'd say 90% of the time, I sat in the same room as the lesson. Now the teacher holds lessons in a local music store, and the lesson room is tiny. I thought I'd be sitting outside the room, but the teacher made it obvious that I was welcome to sit in.

I'd rather not sit in, because I find it a bit tedious and I don't want to be a distraction to the teacher or my child. But my child tells me she wants me there. I help A LOT with the practicing at home. In fact, I play the pieces a few times for my daughter and coach her a lot during the practice.

I can only speak for myself, but it is definitely NOT a lack of confidence in the teacher - just helpful for both my daughter and myself to keep her practicing. And I do pick up a few pointers from the teacher on what weak points my daughter needs to be working on for the next lesson.

I am looking forward to the day when my daughter can practice at home without my input. Until then, I guess it's helpful for me to listen in on the lessons.

Do you have parents sitting in on older children's lessons? At the ages of 4-6, it might be expecting a bit much of the child to feel confident without a parent in attendance. Perhaps once the child is 8 or older, then parent's presence isn't needed or wanted by the child.
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#1754849 - 09/18/11 05:39 PM Re: Parents sitting in on EVERY lesson :( [Re: chasingrainbows]
pianoeagle Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/16/11
Posts: 218
Loc: Texas
I actually require the parents of my 4-6 year old students to stay during lessons. A couple of my new 4-year olds are not comfortable without their mom/dad sitting nearby (usually on the other side of the piano bench). That's okay with me, and I actually appreciate that, since it gives the parents the opportunity to learn the music and I can teach the parents how to practice with their children.

I just took on two new students who had studied at a music school that didn't allow parents inside the rooms, and neither the kids nor the parents had been comfortable with the separation. That's why they looked me up and decided to transfer to my studio.

I have found, through many of my discussions with parents, that they do sit in on all their kids' activities.

Just hang in with it - these kids are really young and still need their parents' support. At some point, they won't, and the parents will probably give you more privacy at that point. The parents of my 8-12 year old group only sit in on lessons about half the time, even though I recommend that they always attend.
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Children's piano instructor
Member NGPT, MTNA/TMTA/PMTA, NFMC/SJFMC

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#1754872 - 09/18/11 06:24 PM Re: Parents sitting in on EVERY lesson :( [Re: chasingrainbows]
LeaC Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/13/11
Posts: 413
Loc: USA
First, let's acknowledge that teaching in a store, or under an administration makes things tricky. It is difficult to assert yourself in these circumstances. Parents have been known to run to the boss over any little thing they don't like. If you use email, be sure that it is a form letter, and it doesn't look like you are singling anyone out. When policies are written down ahead of time, there is less likelyhood that a parent will get upset, hopefully.

With respect to what everyone else has said, I require parents to attend lessons, and to take notes for children 7-ish and younger, depending on the child. I think that if teachers are uncomfortable with this that they perhaps should take only students who start around 7 or 8 years of age.

I tell parents that it is best not to have a siblings, or others, in the room. Occasionally the sibling(s) might have to be there due to circumstances, but it isn't fair to the student or the teacher to have this distraction. (I have short essays on these things in print, and give them out at the early lessons.) Goodness knows, I've had people bring all sorts of family members to lessons. The student is constantly darting his/her eyes around to see what's going on. And what to do about dear Grandma who just wants to say cute things to the student while they are playing? You'll look pretty mean throwing her out! Best to write it ahead of time. If the issue is whether or not the store will support you, you might give a copy to the manager in advance so they know about it, too.

There are times when I just need to have the studio free of all distractions, and develop a bond with the student, but usually that is around the age of 8.

There are kids who can work on homework quietly while their sibling takes a lesson, but you don't have this option due to the small space.
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Working on: Reworking Bartok's Suite Opus 14, Chopin's Polonaise Op.40, The Military (so much fun!)

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#1754886 - 09/18/11 07:02 PM Re: Parents sitting in on EVERY lesson :( [Re: chasingrainbows]
Carolynjoy Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 12/18/09
Posts: 18
Loc: Milwaukee
I don't have experience working in a store, but in private lessons, I now make it a stated policy that parents of young children can come along to lessons (just one parent, not the whole family) for the first three lessons. This is until we are all acquainted and the child is comfortable coming into the condo and staying the whole lesson on their own. I inform the parents that students feel less pressure on them when there aren't so many people in the room to perform for. Also, the students often use the parents as a distraction during lessons to get out of focused lesson time. Finally, if there are siblings around in addition, it's almost impossible to have a quiet time of concentration on only piano. If the parent or the student are uncomfortable with this, they are invited to come in once a month to the last 5 minutes of the lesson to see a small "performance" and overview of what has been accomplished. Parents are welcomed to do this as often as necessary, but it's recommended that this is limited, to allow the full 30 minutes to be used each time.

I may have different standards, because I live in a condo, and my youngest students are 6 years old. But I have had to develop this policy based on disasters in the past. If I had a waiting room, as I used to in the church where I worked, that was a preferable setup, by far.
_________________________
Carolyn
Piano teacher since 2002
B.A. in Music and Psychology
Piano Pedagogy program completed
http://vivopianolessons.com

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#1754918 - 09/18/11 07:57 PM Re: Parents sitting in on EVERY lesson :( [Re: chasingrainbows]
chasingrainbows Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/19/06
Posts: 1128
Loc: NJ
THanks to all for sharing your experiences. I can understand the first month or so, but with the limited space, it is very difficult to move around, especially when I perform duets with the child. I neglected to mention that often some of the parents do answer for the child, and intervene during instructions, which may be the reason I am feeling distressed. How do you tell the parent to keep a low profile? I've already spoken to one on several occasions, but they still "forget" and get involved. I feel that the student child needs to interact with me, the teacher, for that half hour, not me and the parent.

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#1754946 - 09/18/11 08:35 PM Re: Parents sitting in on EVERY lesson :( [Re: chasingrainbows]
John v.d.Brook Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7393
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
Originally Posted By: chasingrainbows
I neglected to mention that often some of the parents do answer for the child, and intervene during instructions, ......

Maybe mom would prefer to be taking the lesson? I have found some pointed comment such as, "No comments from the peanut gallery, please," to be effective, or say to the student, "I think your mom is more excited about your lesson than you are!"

About parents in lessons: I welcome them, but do stress that they are there to observe so they can help their student with practice, which is great, by the way, but if they have questions, they should be addressed in the first or last 5 minutes of the lesson.
_________________________
"Those who dare to teach must never cease to learn." -- Richard Henry Dann
Full-time Private Piano Teacher offering Piano Lessons in Olympia, WA. www.mypianoteacher.com
Certified by the American College of Musicians; member NGPT, MTNA, WSMTA, OMTA

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#1754951 - 09/18/11 08:43 PM Re: Parents sitting in on EVERY lesson :( [Re: chasingrainbows]
LeaC Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/13/11
Posts: 413
Loc: USA
Absolutely! Since I have tread this minefield so many times, I'll say that it is very difficult to tactfully remind parents not to talk during the lesson. I started saying, at the beginning of the lesson, "We can talk for 5-minute wrap up after the lesson." If that didn't work I might emphasis that I need to have the undivided attention of the student, and please wait until after the lesson to talk to me about the lesson. In my own private studio, I have been bold enough to actually put my hand up as if to say "Please!" You still might send a quick email reminding them that there is no talking during the lesson, but if they have any questions, you'll be happy to talk to them after the lesson. Then, repeat it again when they get there. I've had parents that were near impossible to control. That's something that I would take control of if I were not in your situation. I know you don't have space, but I'll share this for future reference if it helps you. Can you say simply that there is no room in the practice room. Please wait outside; I'll talk to you after the lesson? Then many parents come to the lesson with something to read. Got a magazine to hand them? If you really prefer that they not be in the teaching area, you have to find a way to keep them out while not offending them. plaenty of teachers do this, and I know you can, too, with time.
_________________________
Working on: Reworking Bartok's Suite Opus 14, Chopin's Polonaise Op.40, The Military (so much fun!)

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#1754955 - 09/18/11 08:50 PM Re: Parents sitting in on EVERY lesson :( [Re: chasingrainbows]
chasingrainbows Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/19/06
Posts: 1128
Loc: NJ
Great suggestions, as always, John. I will use that language for the future (please hold questions or comments for the end of the lesson.).

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#1754963 - 09/18/11 08:56 PM Re: Parents sitting in on EVERY lesson :( [Re: LeaC]
chasingrainbows Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/19/06
Posts: 1128
Loc: NJ
Lea, thank you so much for the suggestions. I'm afraid it's too late for some parents, but I will keep that in mind for the future. I plan to speak to two of my dads this week to remind them of "etiquette" during lessons. For very young children, I do want the parent there to support the child, or if needed, discipline the child, as well as to see what goes on in the lesson and what is expected between lessons during practice sessions.

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#1754996 - 09/18/11 09:45 PM Re: Parents sitting in on EVERY lesson :( [Re: LeaC]
John v.d.Brook Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7393
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
Originally Posted By: Lea's Muse-ic
....but if they have any questions, you'll be happy to talk to them after the lesson.

Actually, that's not fair to you. They're paying you for lesson time, not for time after the lesson, so do the discussions on their dime, but no interruptions, please!
_________________________
"Those who dare to teach must never cease to learn." -- Richard Henry Dann
Full-time Private Piano Teacher offering Piano Lessons in Olympia, WA. www.mypianoteacher.com
Certified by the American College of Musicians; member NGPT, MTNA, WSMTA, OMTA

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#1755001 - 09/18/11 09:54 PM Re: Parents sitting in on EVERY lesson :( [Re: chasingrainbows]
KeysAngler Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/14/10
Posts: 254
Loc: The Fabulous Florida Keys
Just tell them the more they interrupt the more it will cost them because the child will learn slower ...

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#1755127 - 09/19/11 05:24 AM Re: Parents sitting in on EVERY lesson :( [Re: chasingrainbows]
Ben Crosland Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/11/10
Posts: 420
Loc: Worcester, UK
The main issues I have with it involve the interjections - I always try to give the student adequate time to reach their own conclusions before I prompt them, and the parents will very often think that if they chime in from the other side of the room with a slightly different way of phrasing it, then this will help. Of course, all it serves to do is to confuse the child, and place additional pressure on them.

It is really important to take the opportunity right at the start of the very first lesson to explain to the parent that their role is to observe and nothing else -" ....so no prompting, please, even if you think they're taking ages to answer!"

If you forget to do this - you might find yourself leaving it to the point where you're really ticked off, and then your request for silence will likely come across in overly aggressive manner.
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#1755145 - 09/19/11 07:16 AM Re: Parents sitting in on EVERY lesson :( [Re: chasingrainbows]
lilylady Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/17/05
Posts: 4978
Loc: boston north
At the beginning of the lesson - to the parent:

"I would like to try an experiment. Let's see how Susy does for the next month's lessons all by herself while you wait in the lounge. I'll make sure that everything is written in her book for what she needs to practice this week."

I also like the idea of once a month a little performance and evaluation with the parent that last 10 minutes of that lesson.

You are in charge of your lessons.

_________________________
"Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and life to everything."

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#1755272 - 09/19/11 11:39 AM Re: Parents sitting in on EVERY lesson :( [Re: chasingrainbows]
chasingrainbows Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/19/06
Posts: 1128
Loc: NJ
lilylady, that's also a great idea.

Ben, I agree. I really like my parents, so, fortunately, I haven't reached the anger stage yet, but I am definitely frustrated. They don't give the student the chance to think through the questions asked--like you said. They want to "speed up the lesson" because the child is "taking too long". It's pretty frustrating.

John, no, it's not fair, b/c I have back to back lessons, so I can't keep the next student waiting. I include questions within the lesson time, unless I have a break in between.

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#1755287 - 09/19/11 12:31 PM Re: Parents sitting in on EVERY lesson :( [Re: chasingrainbows]
Dustin Sanders Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/11/10
Posts: 479
Loc: US
My answer would be this:

1.) Is the parent any longer able to help their child at home with practicing?

If not then there is no longer any reason for the parent to sit in.

UNLESS ...

2.) The child is very shy or unruly and having the parent there to either support or enforce proper behaviour can be helpful.


If the child is obviously embarassed the parent is there, I politely inform the parent it is healthier for the student to develop their relationship with their teacher one on one and that having the parent in the studio can severely alter the way the student behaves such as ...

1.) The student could be terrified of making mistakes if their parent is strict or teases them in an unhealthy manner.

2.) The parent is just out of control and interrupts the lesson to 'correct' their child on things that just are not as important as other things the teacher is working on.

In summary, it isn't necessary for the parent to be in the studio in many cases and in some cases , having the parent there could be detrimental to the development of the student.

For very young children, having the parent there is almost always acceptable AND advisable. The parent will most likely need to pay attention to help their child at home with practicing.

For the people who are shocked the parent brought along her other child, why shouldn't the parent be allowed to do such a thing? Take this as an opportunity to try to gain a new student and inform the parent that it will be best if the child sits and pays attention to the lesson. Unless you have a daycare set up in your studio, you gotta suck it up and let the child attend the lessson.
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#1755289 - 09/19/11 12:35 PM Re: Parents sitting in on EVERY lesson :( [Re: Ben Crosland]
Dustin Sanders Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/11/10
Posts: 479
Loc: US
Originally Posted By: Ben Crosland
The main issues I have with it involve the interjections - I always try to give the student adequate time to reach their own conclusions before I prompt them, and the parents will very often think that if they chime in from the other side of the room with a slightly different way of phrasing it, then this will help. Of course, all it serves to do is to confuse the child, and place additional pressure on them.

It is really important to take the opportunity right at the start of the very first lesson to explain to the parent that their role is to observe and nothing else -" ....so no prompting, please, even if you think they're taking ages to answer!"

If you forget to do this - you might find yourself leaving it to the point where you're really ticked off, and then your request for silence will likely come across in overly aggressive manner.


Oh God I hate when parents do this ... I once had a father who literally sat directly next to his child, closer to her than I was sitting. He would get mad and try to 'correct' everything she was doing.

And he got frustrated at ME for not 'pointing out all her mistakes' the moment she made them.

"Excuse me sir, your child is 5 years old and she is trying the best she can, please stfu or never come back to my studio again" is what I wanted to say!
_________________________
An Eclectic Piano Teaching Experience







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#1755428 - 09/19/11 03:51 PM Re: Parents sitting in on EVERY lesson :( [Re: chasingrainbows]
chasingrainbows Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/19/06
Posts: 1128
Loc: NJ
Dustin, as long as the parent doesn't make a habit of bringing another child along, I will allow for the occasional extra person, but the parent already knows my abililities as a teacher, so there is no advantage as far as I can see (Other than possibly sparking the other child's interest) in bringing along a third party. Three in the tiny room is one too many IMO. And, it's not my problem that there is a babysitter issue. I allow cancellations and will make them up.

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#1755481 - 09/19/11 04:55 PM Re: Parents sitting in on EVERY lesson :( [Re: John v.d.Brook]
LeaC Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/13/11
Posts: 413
Loc: USA
Hi, I agree. This time will come out of the last 5 minutes of the lesson time until they get the message!
_________________________
Working on: Reworking Bartok's Suite Opus 14, Chopin's Polonaise Op.40, The Military (so much fun!)

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#1755494 - 09/19/11 05:05 PM Re: Parents sitting in on EVERY lesson :( [Re: Dustin Sanders]
LeaC Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/13/11
Posts: 413
Loc: USA
These people can take weeks to "manage", if at all. I know not every can or wants to do this, but I very occasionally ask a parent to come in and observe a lesson of a parent who is behaving appropriately. It's hard to find the right words when you just wan them to stop talking!. How about, "No talking in the lesson." with direct eye contact. Or, " I need to be the only one talking in the lesson." The asking them to speak to you later if they want to talk is rarely accepted. It just diverts their attention elsewhere. Jeeez, I could write a book about this!! Ha Ha
_________________________
Working on: Reworking Bartok's Suite Opus 14, Chopin's Polonaise Op.40, The Military (so much fun!)

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#1755559 - 09/19/11 06:36 PM Re: Parents sitting in on EVERY lesson :( [Re: chasingrainbows]
chasingrainbows Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/19/06
Posts: 1128
Loc: NJ
Or, just plain ignoring them. It's funny- I practically have to beg parents to sit in on lessons when needed -- like when a student consistently claims I didn't tell him something, or a student behaves in a disrespectful manner.

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#1755577 - 09/19/11 07:03 PM Re: Parents sitting in on EVERY lesson :( [Re: chasingrainbows]
DadAgain Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/09/09
Posts: 365
Loc: Brisbane, QLD
I always sit in 1 daughters lessons (7yr old). It enables me to know exactly what her teacher is after and exactly what she needs to be concentrating on in her practice. Stuff can be written in a book - but its not the same as seeing exactly whats being demonstrated when talking about finer points of technique, "Make sure you're 5th finger comes straight down to get a nice clear sound like *this* not like *this* at the end of these phrases...". I dont have great expertise in teaching, so by sitting in I've learnt alot which enables me to be more useful when directing practice. They get through so much in her lessons that scribing it all down in a book would take forever and still be less effective than getting it 'straight from the horses mouth' so to speak!

I also sit in on her Violin lessons where I am often asked by her teacher all kinds of questions, not only to do with daughters violin lessons, but questions of musical interpretation, questions of what pieces or excercises I think she might want to work on, questions relating to her musical upbringing and early childhood! (Teacher is a student of early music education and clearly keen to learn from our daughter as a 'case study'). It may be an unusual arrangement but it seems to work. I have respect for her teaching methods and her ability to communicate effectively with my daughter, and she seems to respect my opinion on things (even though I try not to offer any strong opinions and let her direct as much as possible, I certainly dont interupt if not asked to). Much of the time the communication between me and teacher is I think intended simply to back up what shes saying and add extra weight to her arguments - sort of, "Isnt that right dad?".


Having said that, I do not sit in on piano lessons with my 5yr old daughter - simply because she was too distracted and would not 'engage' with lessons at all if I was there. She's a completely different child and a different approach is needed.


Edited by DadAgain (09/19/11 07:22 PM)
_________________________
Parent....
Orchestral Viola player (stictly amateur)....
Hack Pianist.... (faded skills from glory days 20 yrs ago)
Vague Guitar & Bass player.... (former minor income stream 15 yrs ago)
Former conductor... (been a long time since I was set loose with a magic wand!)

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#1755611 - 09/19/11 08:05 PM Re: Parents sitting in on EVERY lesson :( [Re: chasingrainbows]
chasingrainbows Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/19/06
Posts: 1128
Loc: NJ
Dadagain, thanks for your parental input. It's very valued. These questions that your child's teacher asks are discussed with my parents during my first complimentary lesson that I provide. I also provide a student evaluation form for either the parent or student to complete with much of those questions included. That being said, with all due respect, do you sit in on other lessons your daughter is taking? (other than violin) If so, are you also interacting during those lessons? Our studios have glass doors, and parents can sit outside the studio. As I said, I don't mind if they sit in occasionally, and except for young/rowdy or shy students, there comes a time when the student has to be able to learn on his/her own without relying on the parent. Just my opinion. I know if my parent sat in on my lessons, I would have quit lessons, which would have been tragic.

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#1755748 - 09/20/11 01:42 AM Re: Parents sitting in on EVERY lesson :( [Re: chasingrainbows]
DadAgain Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/09/09
Posts: 365
Loc: Brisbane, QLD
Originally Posted By: chasingrainbows
... That being said, with all due respect, do you sit in on other lessons your daughter is taking? (other than violin) If so, are you also interacting during those lessons? ....


I sit in on her Piano lessons - but do not interact as my interaction is not requested. Her piano teacher is vastly experienced and highly respected. Most of her younger students have parents in lessons with her. I guess there comes an age when kids need to be trusted to be able to manage their own practice effectively by themselves all the time - but at 7yrs old that age has not been reached.

Her violin teacher is much less experienced (considerably cheaper) and seems to value and seek the extra input I can give when asked. Many of her students parents dont sit in on lessons, but most are older.

Obviously I dont attend her school classes, but I have been known to lend a hand to the coach at soccer training (interacting a little) and watch swim training (no interaction).

Does the level of experience of the parent make any difference to your feelings?

Are you (and I mean a generic plural 'you as teachers') happier to have an experienced musician parent sit in as they are likely to understand what you're talking about and not get in the way - or are you intimidated by the presence of a parent who may be overconfident in their own abilities as teachers fear their over-ruling and undermining of your teaching?

How can I as a parent be sure that my child is practicing the right thing if I'm not allowed to sit in and hear precisely what you as a teacher are focusing on?
_________________________
Parent....
Orchestral Viola player (stictly amateur)....
Hack Pianist.... (faded skills from glory days 20 yrs ago)
Vague Guitar & Bass player.... (former minor income stream 15 yrs ago)
Former conductor... (been a long time since I was set loose with a magic wand!)

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#1755760 - 09/20/11 02:00 AM Re: Parents sitting in on EVERY lesson :( [Re: chasingrainbows]
david_a Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/11/09
Posts: 2913
Different situations can call for different solutions. When your arrangement is not working, you need to identify the problem and improvise a response. Rules cannot cover all the possible permutations of parental pianistic perusal. wink

Sometimes, with an intrusive parent, simply rearranging the seating (so that the teacher is between student & parent, and the parent's chair is as far away as practical) can be useful. But not always. frown

Some young students work better with a parent in the room - we can't ignore that fact. I never wanted my parents there, even as a little boy, so as a teacher I've had a prejudice to get over in this regard.

The blunt truth is that parents sitting in on piano lessons (beyond what might be called a "baby beginner" stage where parents are supposed to be participating) need to be silent observers who stay seated in the far corner of the room, and either take notes on how & what to practice or else just listen. (Parents who have brought along their own work to do are not paying attention, not helping their child, and should leave.) Very young children may need and appreciate help from a parent in the room, and that is different. Then again, please note that just who is called "very young" depends on the child's temperament and experience. We've all met "mature" four-year-olds and "little" eight-year-olds.

All siblings in piano lessons need to keep complete silence, and not be distracting to the student & teacher, or they are out. Some can do it easily, especially if given space to draw pictures or read a book; some simply can't manage it.

I started piano at the age of 6 and never once had my parents in a lesson, and I would have hated it if they had come in (except of course when they needed to talk to my teacher - but that was different because when they were talking I wasn't playing the piano). But at age 6 I was already an old fogey. smile

Some parents with experience in music are great. However, the main reason some of them are so great to work with is that they truly understand that no matter what happens they need to sit in the corner and shut up, because they know exactly what it feels like to be the student. smile

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#1755775 - 09/20/11 02:22 AM Re: Parents sitting in on EVERY lesson :( [Re: chasingrainbows]
david_a Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/11/09
Posts: 2913
Note: As a teacher I used to feel insecure with a parent looking over my shoulder. It was necessary for me to get over that. My early teaching experiences included some pretty weird parents, and that made me wary for a long time.

Some parents try to take on the role of second teacher - it doesn't work. Parents who are willing to be teacher's assistant, to squelch their own opinions completely and to just do what the teacher is asking - both at home and in the lesson - really can help tremendously. It's a matter of intention and attitude. Sometimes parents come in with very different expectations of the whole process, occasionally so much so that it can feel to a teacher as if the parents have a "hidden agenda" of some kind. Such a situation is a trap for everyone to avoid, by noticing the hidden conflict and finding ways to resolve it.
_________________________
(I'm a piano teacher.)

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#1755798 - 09/20/11 04:14 AM Re: Parents sitting in on EVERY lesson :( [Re: chasingrainbows]
Carolynjoy Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 12/18/09
Posts: 18
Loc: Milwaukee
It seems that the problem may be simple in many of our "problem" cases:

Not all parents are not like DadAgain: They really want to simply observe the lessons to get the very most out of them, in order to help their child practice properly, but they also use discretion about if they presence would be helpful or harmful to their child.

The problem cases are the opposite:

Either, they do not simply observe lessons. They actually wish to contribute to the lessons, and perhaps, interject along the way with extra advice for their child.

Or, they do not use discretion about the effect their presence is having on the child and the lesson. They don't consider if they are making the child more nervous or less focused. They don't consider if their presence is contributing anything to the lesson or changing the dynamic in some way.

I suppose I've had a few too many problem parents in my early years of teaching. A lot of conversationalists, perfectionists, cell phone enthusiasts, and even one that considered himself a co-teacher. So, I'm always grateful when the teacher-student dynamic is able to develop naturally at some time, without interference.

Clearly, when the parent is not a "problem parent," and they can follow lesson etiquette, the parent should be fine in the lesson room. I would probably still consider it on an individual basis, depending on the student's age, maturity, and the parent-student relationship.
_________________________
Carolyn
Piano teacher since 2002
B.A. in Music and Psychology
Piano Pedagogy program completed
http://vivopianolessons.com

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