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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: 1058
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: 1058
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: 1196
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: 1058
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: 7348
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: 1058
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: 1058
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: 7348
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: 228
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: 419
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: 4977
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: 1058
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: 1058
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: 1058
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: 1058
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
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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.
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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.
_________________________
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Piano teacher since 2002
B.A. in Music and Psychology
Piano Pedagogy program completed
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#1755804 - 09/20/11 05:20 AM Re: Parents sitting in on EVERY lesson :( [Re: chasingrainbows]
kevinb Offline
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Registered: 09/18/09
Posts: 1565
I'm always amazed at how teachers vary in this respect. Perhaps I shouldn't be -- I know that people don't come out of a factory -- but I am. My kids have four music teachers between them, and they each have completely different views on how much parental involvement they want. One wants me to have no part to play in the teaching process beyond signing cheques. One wants me to sit in the room with the kids during classes and then act as a second teacher at home. The others are somewhere in between. All are very experienced and successful teachers, and all know me and my musical background pretty well.

The fact that there is such a variety of views, even among experienced teachers, suggests to me that there isn't a clear right/wrong answer here.

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#1755855 - 09/20/11 08:45 AM Re: Parents sitting in on EVERY lesson :( [Re: chasingrainbows]
Ann in Kentucky Offline
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Registered: 01/22/08
Posts: 2647
This is one of those situations in which size DOES matter. A room that is 5 x 8 is just too small to accomodate the needs of a young beginner IMO. I prefer to have ONE parent sit in on lessons. But in a room that small, it would be awful.

I would allow a single observer. Not both parents at the same time. Not parent and sibling.

Stores with their closet size studios are not fun for anyone. I hope you can get your own studio soon!

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#1755896 - 09/20/11 10:14 AM Re: Parents sitting in on EVERY lesson :( [Re: chasingrainbows]
chasingrainbows Offline
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Registered: 09/19/06
Posts: 1058
Loc: NJ
Ann, I think that is a huge factor. Factor in two chairs, a music rack, the child's backpack, coat, me, Dad, keyboard and child in one tiny room. It's nearly impossible to teach effectively.

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#1755971 - 09/20/11 12:49 PM Re: Parents sitting in on EVERY lesson :( [Re: chasingrainbows]
Ann in Kentucky Offline
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Registered: 01/22/08
Posts: 2647
It's not fair to the poor kid either. They are put in a small windowless closet with a piano and 2 adults and they're supposed to experience the joy of music! Plus the little kids need a writing station, so they can move about and do different things...not just squeeze in near the piano.

Some stores could take down a wall between two studio closets, and make one decent studio. (But I doubt they'll do it.)

chasingrainbows, you have my sympathy!

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#1756016 - 09/20/11 01:47 PM Re: Parents sitting in on EVERY lesson :( [Re: chasingrainbows]
david_a Offline
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Registered: 11/11/09
Posts: 2913
It's true that every teacher is also different, along with each student, each parent, each room, etc. It's not possible to make rules that cover all eventualities. You can't write it all into your policy. Whatever are the essentials for you, of course you may require students & parents to agree to before starting lessons; but that's only a framework or outline for what might happen. In any case, if you have a parent or student with whom you feel you can't try different things and don't have much hope of being able to come to a mutual understanding, it may be time to suggest that they switch teachers.
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#1756049 - 09/20/11 02:58 PM Re: Parents sitting in on EVERY lesson :( [Re: chasingrainbows]
chasingrainbows Offline
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Registered: 09/19/06
Posts: 1058
Loc: NJ
Maybe I need to be more flexible in my thinking, but connecting with my student one on one, as well as space issues are my primary concerns. I have a hard time understanding how a parent can send their child to school for an entire day without any problem, yet insists on sitting in on extracurricular lessons (so that they "know what is expected", etc.,), and feeling comfortable with answering for their child, or demonstrating to the child what they are paying the teacher to do.

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#1756137 - 09/20/11 06:09 PM 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
... I have a hard time understanding how a parent can send their child to school for an entire day without any problem, yet insists on sitting in on extracurricular lessons (so that they "know what is expected", etc.,).


Theres a few simple logistical reasons for this:

Firstly, most parents CANNOT be at school to sit in on lessons, school timetable happens (quite sensibly) to coincide with most peoples work days. Furthermore insutrumental lessons occur outisde of shcool time which pretty much REQUIRES parents to be there in their capacity of taxi driver. If I'm going to sit around for an hour whilst my child has a lesson of course I'm going to listen in and see how its all going.

Secondly, school classes have considerbly MORE students. That means that parents cant sit in or there'd be potentialy 25 parents sitting at the back of the class - obviously that'd be mayhem! (Having said that our school does invite parents to come and assist in class if they can from time to time so they can be more aware of whats going on AND help out the teachers).

Thirdly (and least convincingly), the high numbers in school classroom mean teaching is far more 'generic' rather than 'targetted'. I'd say my daughter is taught far far less in a whole day at school than she is in an hour of a piano lessons. The pace of learning in schools is deliberately dumbed down to not alienate the slower kids - this means the more bright kids have no trouble whatsoever keeping up and remembering what they're taught. In instrumental lessons however, theres a LOT packed in to short time. It can be tough for a child to remember all the points raised in an instrumental lesson, so an extra pair of eyes/ears can make for more effective learning - making the experience more rewarding for both student and teacher.

Also: School work happens for 6 hours a day at school and perhaps 15 minutes a day at home - thats 96% of the work done under teacher supervision. Instrumental work happens for (in our case) 45 minutes a week with teacher and about 5 hours a week at home - thats only 13% of the work done under teacher supervision. THAT might be a huge reason why a lot of parents feel they need to be 'across the issues' covered in instrumental lessons more than they do for schoolwork.


Edited by DadAgain (09/20/11 06:15 PM)
_________________________
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#1756151 - 09/20/11 06:27 PM Re: Parents sitting in on EVERY lesson :( [Re: chasingrainbows]
Minniemay Offline
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Registered: 06/07/09
Posts: 1702
Loc: CA
There is also the added factor (and, in some cases, danger) that this is a one-on-one situation. I want to make sure my child is safe with the person I'm going to leave him with. Bad things have been known to happen.

I also have found it helpful to know exactly what the teacher is saying. My son sometimes interprets the information quite differently.
_________________________
B.A., Piano, Piano Pegagogy, Music Ed.
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#1756180 - 09/20/11 07:11 PM Re: Parents sitting in on EVERY lesson :( [Re: DadAgain]
bitWrangler Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/14/07
Posts: 1789
Loc: Central TX
Originally Posted By: DadAgain
Originally Posted By: chasingrainbows
... I have a hard time understanding how a parent can send their child to school for an entire day without any problem, yet insists on sitting in on extracurricular lessons (so that they "know what is expected", etc.,).
Also: School work happens for 6 hours a day at school and perhaps 15 minutes a day at home - thats 96% of the work done under teacher supervision. Instrumental work happens for (in our case) 45 minutes a week with teacher and about 5 hours a week at home - thats only 13% of the work done under teacher supervision. THAT might be a huge reason why a lot of parents feel they need to be 'across the issues' covered in instrumental lessons more than they do for schoolwork.


I think the above is really #1 for our family. Given that the teacher is visited once per week, having the kiddo spin their wheels for an entire week because they heard something wrong or misremembered (yes, somewhat mitigated by teachers notes, but not always) makes for a significant lack of productivity given the number of hours spent outside the lesson.

And while we don't sit in on our kids classes, I do have a somewhat related example when it comes to school. One of the things we like about our kids current school is that they generally get their homework back within a day or two, none of this "friday folder" nonsense. This is important to us because it allows us to go over any problem spots at the time when it's still somewhat fresh in their heads and before any tests. Again, it makes the process more efficient and, we feel, raises the productivity level of the homework as it can be used to reinforce the positive (vs the multi-day, sometimes week plus long turn around doing it the other way).

Not for everyone, but we feel it works for us.

Our oldest has been taking piano lessons for 6 years now and one of us still sits in on every lesson. We feel, as does the piano teacher, that our kiddos wouldn't have made nearly as much progress without this direct involvement.

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#1756288 - 09/21/11 12:40 AM Re: Parents sitting in on EVERY lesson :( [Re: chasingrainbows]
david_a Offline
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Registered: 11/11/09
Posts: 2913
There are different kinds of progress. One kind is learning to work the keys of the piano, and to play some music; but that's by and large the easy part. A much bigger component of progress is the student learning to manage himself and his work. Clearly, a five-year-old is not going to be in that league yet, with an exception here and there - but a ten- or twelve-year-old had better be "getting there" at least. It will fairly soon be time to start letting your older child have his/her own lessons, on occasion at first and then more often. If my parents had been sitting in on my lessons when I was 12, I would have quit.
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#1756387 - 09/21/11 05:14 AM Re: Parents sitting in on EVERY lesson :( [Re: chasingrainbows]
kevinb Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/18/09
Posts: 1565
[quote=chasingrainbowsI have a hard time understanding how a parent can send their child to school for an entire day without any problem, yet insists on sitting in on extracurricular lessons (so that they "know what is expected", etc.,), and feeling comfortable with answering for their child, or demonstrating to the child what they are paying the teacher to do. [/quote]

In addition to what DadAgain said, mainstream schools generally follow a documented curriculum, produce detailed reports on student progress, and provide times outside of school hours for meetings between parents and teachers. Schools set homework the amount and content of which are well-documented and which (we hope) parents will oversee and assist with. Moreover, if schools are properly run, there are formal complaints procedures where failings in the system can (we hope) be followed up.

In addition, most mainstream schools (in the UK) are run by governers, a large proportion of whom are parents of children at the school.

Consequently, there should be no need whatsover for parents to sit in school classrooms to monitor what their kids are doing, even if it were practicable to do so.

But these administrative and monitoring procedures are not implemented to anywhere near the same extent in private music tuition -- they couldn't be without trebling the fees.

So it's not really useful to use what goes on in mainstream schools as a model for parental involvement in private tuition.

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#1756425 - 09/21/11 07:33 AM Re: Parents sitting in on EVERY lesson :( [Re: chasingrainbows]
landorrano Offline
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Registered: 02/26/06
Posts: 2457
Loc: France
Has it already been mentioned: parents know the material that is being taught in gradeschool, they don't need to be present in the classroom to be able to help their kids with homework or continue the work that is being done at school.

Whereas in general they have little familiarity with what is going on in music lessons.

There is another side to the comparaison with gradeschool, which is that there is a parallel, social education going on, along side the subject matter. The kids are learning to live with each other and with adults other than their parents. You might say that they are being saved from their parents !

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#1756436 - 09/21/11 08:00 AM Re: Parents sitting in on EVERY lesson :( [Re: chasingrainbows]
Jaak Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/30/11
Posts: 224
Loc: Tallinn, Estonia
Hi,

I had the same problem a while ago. I have an 8 year old boy student. His father who took him to school stayed in the lesson and even participated by commenting and also playing the piano. It was really strange. And I did not like it at all. In one moment I think the father started to trust me and saw that his children like the lessons (His daughter is also my student)and did not come in any more. So it became much better and easier.
But if this situation lasts for a long time, what I would do then? Just some quick ideas:

I would talk to the parent in a friendly way and give him/her very strong arguments why it is better to teach the student without anyone else in the lesson. Arguments:

1) If two persons are near, the attention is devided and child can not concentrate entirely. This lessens the effect of learning.
2) When the child has to manage the situation himself/herself it grows the character and makes the child more mature. Gives courage and social skills. Also the attitude of managing well can improve. This is important for future.
3) You can also concentrate better and do your lesson in a relaxed and certain way.

So I would prefer a friendly and well explained approach. You can also add, that this is proven nowadays scientifically or something like that. Somehow these little phrases have strong influence on people. I do not like bluffing but you can just say something like this when it is absolutely necessary.

Really hope you solve it,

Jaak

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#1756440 - 09/21/11 08:08 AM Re: Parents sitting in on EVERY lesson :( [Re: Jaak]
kevinb Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/18/09
Posts: 1565
Originally Posted By: Jaak
You can also add, that this is proven nowadays scientifically or something like that. Somehow these little phrases have strong influence on people. I do not like bluffing but you can just say something like this when it is absolutely necessary.


Ouch smirk

That would be, um..., a lie, wouldn't it? I don't think it would do much for your business credibility if you tell whoppers like this and get found out. And you will smile

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#1756482 - 09/21/11 09:46 AM Re: Parents sitting in on EVERY lesson :( [Re: chasingrainbows]
childofparadise2002 Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/13/04
Posts: 542
I agree with those who pointed out that public schools and private piano studios can't compare. I will add the following:

1. In many public schools, including my children's, there is an open-door policy. Parents are welcome to observe the classroom as long as they notify the teacher in advance. And teachers at lower grades generally appreciate and sometimes ask for parent helpers.

2. I know of quite a few piano students whose parents always, ALWAYS, sit in on lessons. Some students are already in high school, and parents still sit in on EVERY lesson. All of these students and parents take piano study very seriously. At some point parents no longer need to help their children's practice, but sitting in on lessons is a way for parents' self education. It provides valuable opportunity for parents to understand as much as possible about piano performance and music education, and this will be great help when their children make career decisions.

3. Parents sitting in and parents sitting in without knowing etiquette are two separate issues.

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#1756532 - 09/21/11 11:19 AM Re: Parents sitting in on EVERY lesson :( [Re: david_a]
bitWrangler Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/14/07
Posts: 1789
Loc: Central TX
Originally Posted By: david_a
There are different kinds of progress. One kind is learning to work the keys of the piano, and to play some music; but that's by and large the easy part. A much bigger component of progress is the student learning to manage himself and his work. Clearly, a five-year-old is not going to be in that league yet, with an exception here and there - but a ten- or twelve-year-old had better be "getting there" at least. It will fairly soon be time to start letting your older child have his/her own lessons, on occasion at first and then more often. If my parents had been sitting in on my lessons when I was 12, I would have quit.


Just as there are different kinds of progress, there are different roles that a participating parent can play while sitting in on lessons. What a parent does when the student is younger is different than when the student is older. Plus a lot depends on the role/relationship between the parent and the student. In our case our kids music studies are viewed as a collaborative family effort not just an activity that the kid happens to be doing. Our daughter elicits feedback from us, both musically and technically (as well as procedurally, e.g. time management, etc) and having one of us in on the lessons helps tremendously in this regard. However, she is more than capable of going it alone when the situation calls for it (we may simply be busy ourselves).

I know that a lot of the examples given in this thread have primarily focused on parents who tend to be overbearing or overreaching in their "participation", however, I was merely pointing out that it is indeed possible for parents to play an active role without being one of "those" parents.

Also, as I've mentioned before, while not compulsory, our kids teacher highly encourages parents to sit in on lessons, regardless of age (she has some pretty talented high school level students whose parents sit in on most/every practice as well).

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#1756594 - 09/21/11 12:54 PM Re: Parents sitting in on EVERY lesson :( [Re: bitWrangler]
david_a Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/11/09
Posts: 2913
Originally Posted By: bitWrangler
Originally Posted By: david_a
There are different kinds of progress. One kind is learning to work the keys of the piano, and to play some music; but that's by and large the easy part. A much bigger component of progress is the student learning to manage himself and his work. Clearly, a five-year-old is not going to be in that league yet, with an exception here and there - but a ten- or twelve-year-old had better be "getting there" at least. It will fairly soon be time to start letting your older child have his/her own lessons, on occasion at first and then more often. If my parents had been sitting in on my lessons when I was 12, I would have quit.


Just as there are different kinds of progress, there are different roles that a participating parent can play while sitting in on lessons. What a parent does when the student is younger is different than when the student is older. Plus a lot depends on the role/relationship between the parent and the student. In our case our kids music studies are viewed as a collaborative family effort not just an activity that the kid happens to be doing. Our daughter elicits feedback from us, both musically and technically (as well as procedurally, e.g. time management, etc) and having one of us in on the lessons helps tremendously in this regard. However, she is more than capable of going it alone when the situation calls for it (we may simply be busy ourselves).

I know that a lot of the examples given in this thread have primarily focused on parents who tend to be overbearing or overreaching in their "participation", however, I was merely pointing out that it is indeed possible for parents to play an active role without being one of "those" parents.

Also, as I've mentioned before, while not compulsory, our kids teacher highly encourages parents to sit in on lessons, regardless of age (she has some pretty talented high school level students whose parents sit in on most/every practice as well).
I think you and the teacher are both right that parents have a valuable contribution to make. Of course they do. But I think (after a certain point) that contribution, even though it's still valuable, is not worth nearly as much as the alternative - beginning to step aside and expect the students themselves to handle more.

When your kids move out, it's nice to know that they'll miss you; but not so nice to think they'll need you and be lost without you.

To be frozen for a lifetime at "talented high school" level and no more, due to lack of experience in the basics of managing their own practicing and their own lessons, would be a shame. Talented high school pianists are a dime a dozen, unfortunately. And talented high school pianists who are also forty years old are far too common.

Doing for your children gets the job (well, a job, hopefully the right one) done, no question about it. But doing for your children also encourages their dependence on you. For young children, that dependence is inarguably and entirely appropriate; somewhere along the way, things change. How and when things change is a big and open question that has many potential right answers.
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#1756602 - 09/21/11 01:04 PM Re: Parents sitting in on EVERY lesson :( [Re: chasingrainbows]
Diane... Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/16/06
Posts: 3443
Loc: Western Canada
Originally Posted By: chasingrainbows
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.


Yes, parents do sit in on swim or ballet classes!

Maybe you could ask the store to give you a "bigger" room. I think at 4 or 6 years old, parents should have every right to sit in on the lesson. I would welcome that myself. The parents can know what is required of those very young kids & help them with practice at home.

But at the end of the day, you have to remember you are serving the paying customer. And accomodate whatever requests that paying customer wants. Within reason of course, but I just get the feeling you are accomodating "your needs". I'm not trying to be difficult here, but find out what can be changed if necessary (give the screaming sibling a sucker) but realize parents may have safety reasons, or curiousity & see it as a positive thing!

Hope this helps!


Edited by Diane... (09/21/11 01:05 PM)
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#1756630 - 09/21/11 01:41 PM Re: Parents sitting in on EVERY lesson :( [Re: Diane...]
david_a Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/11/09
Posts: 2913
Originally Posted By: Diane...
But at the end of the day, you have to remember you are serving the paying customer. And accomodate whatever requests that paying customer wants.
I don't think this is true. This attitude works for businesses that are selling a product, but teachers are not selling a product. The piano teacher's "customers" are there because they want to learn piano, and sometimes the teacher has to say, "In order to learn piano you need to do it this way, not the way you were originally expecting".

To put it another way - the following statement is not strictly correct but makes the issue perfectly clear - the piano-lesson customer is WRONG, and that's exactly why he wants lessons!

We are here to teach piano; we are NOT here to do everything the customer asks. If he asks for something incompatible with good piano teaching, it's our duty to say no.
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#1756692 - 09/21/11 03:03 PM Re: Parents sitting in on EVERY lesson :( [Re: chasingrainbows]
chasingrainbows Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/19/06
Posts: 1058
Loc: NJ
david a, thank you for explaining that. I am a PRIVATE contractor who works for a music store. Each teacher has their own policy/methods, etc. I present my policy before parents sign up for lessons. I agree to allow one parent to sit in on lessons in the beginning, but encourage occasional lessons that are parent-free. It seems that every parent of child 4-7 now wants to jump on the bandwagon.

Diane: The store is limited in space, and there is absolutely no possibility of ever getting a larger studio. If parents are not happy with sitting outside the studio on occasion, and emailing me for input/suggestions, etc. or conversing in the last few minutes of the lesson, they certainly have the option to find another teacher. I am not accomodating my needs, I am attempting to create a relaxed learning environment. I can't control what a parent will do from one moment to the next, nor should I have to worry about that. Parents yanking on their child's shirt, getting up and demonstrating, answering for them, using cell phones, bringing along other children--where does it end? This is not a private piano lesson. As you indicated, parents do sit in on ballet and swim CLASSES. If parents want this type of lesson, the child should join a music class.

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#1756707 - 09/21/11 03:21 PM Re: Parents sitting in on EVERY lesson :( [Re: chasingrainbows]
david_a Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/11/09
Posts: 2913
Originally Posted By: chasingrainbows
I can't control what a parent will do from one moment to the next, nor should I have to worry about that. Parents yanking on their child's shirt, getting up and demonstrating, answering for them, using cell phones, bringing along other children--where does it end?
You are free to tell the parents to please remain seated over there and to please be quiet while you're teaching. Or to tell them to please not come in next week (which works much better than telling them not to come in THIS week, by the way). Or to say that one parent is welcome to come in and listen but no children except for the student. Or that everyone is welcome and bring the dog too. Whatever works in this particular situation is what you should do.

Not every parent is the same either. I have had whole families come in (when a lesson was in a large room) and it was fine. I have had parents who were absolutely poisonous to have around - the student was terrified and I was distracted and angry - and I have had other parents who made an immense positive difference and I wished they would come in more often. Siblings who sit in the corner with a coloring book, and other siblings who come and bang on the piano every two minutes while hitting the teacher with the other hand. smile

This issue is totally worth losing a student over, unless you are desperate for this particular few dollars - and I have certainly been there. frown
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#1756708 - 09/21/11 03:24 PM Re: Parents sitting in on EVERY lesson :( [Re: kevinb]
Jaak Offline
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Registered: 06/30/11
Posts: 224
Loc: Tallinn, Estonia
Originally Posted By: kevinb
Originally Posted By: Jaak
You can also add, that this is proven nowadays scientifically or something like that. Somehow these little phrases have strong influence on people. I do not like bluffing but you can just say something like this when it is absolutely necessary.


Ouch smirk

That would be, um..., a lie, wouldn't it? I don't think it would do much for your business credibility if you tell whoppers like this and get found out. And you will smile



Hi,

I agree with you. I should correct myself.
Sciences that research education and progress of a child for sure include things that point out the importance of independent thinking and ability to take responsibility. If you mention something from there it is a strong argument. So there is just an idea to think about.

The last point was half like a joke or hint but sorry for that again.

GL
Jaak

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#1756816 - 09/21/11 06:11 PM Re: Parents sitting in on EVERY lesson :( [Re: david_a]
Stanny Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/08/06
Posts: 1461
Originally Posted By: david_a
Originally Posted By: Diane...
But at the end of the day, you have to remember you are serving the paying customer. And accomodate whatever requests that paying customer wants.
I don't think this is true. This attitude works for businesses that are selling a product, but teachers are not selling a product. The piano teacher's "customers" are there because they want to learn piano, and sometimes the teacher has to say, "In order to learn piano you need to do it this way, not the way you were originally expecting".

To put it another way - the following statement is not strictly correct but makes the issue perfectly clear - the piano-lesson customer is WRONG, and that's exactly why he wants lessons!

We are here to teach piano; we are NOT here to do everything the customer asks. If he asks for something incompatible with good piano teaching, it's our duty to say no.


Woah, I really disagree with a lot of this. We ARE selling a product....piano education....to our customers (students). Sure they have to do the practice between lessons, but our expertise is a service that is the product.

Happy customers spread the word of your value, so you have to walk the fine line between keeping them happy and yourself happy with a firm policy.
_________________________
~Stanny~

Independent Music Teacher
Certified Piano Teacher, American College of Musicians
Member: MTNA, NGPT, ASMTA, NAMTA

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#1756896 - 09/21/11 08:18 PM Re: Parents sitting in on EVERY lesson :( [Re: chasingrainbows]
Jaak Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/30/11
Posts: 224
Loc: Tallinn, Estonia
Hi,

I do not agree with selling and customer attitude.

Of course teacher takes money because he/she has to live from something but I think these things - money and education should be as separated as possible.

Like Ferenc Liszt said, real teaching cannot involve money and a wish to gain profit and bend higher values like music according to the wish of a student who is not as advanced in music as the tutor.

Why, there is a simple explanation.

The student really does not know what to expect and demand from the teacher, because he/she has not explored the piano world so much and often can not understand what to do and why is teacher doing certain things. And even if it can seem differently for the student in the beginning, later the loser will be the student.

When the teacher starts to bend his/her view according to the student and the first goal is to keep the students and make money but not real teaching of music and the piano the quality starts to suffer.

Good teaching is a real art and something deep and true. If we start to use it for making money and serve it as as sellable product as possible... I think something real gets lost.

This works by my own experience and I have discussed the same issue with other piano tutors.

If the student demands something else from the tutor that he/she can not sincerely give, the tutor should give up the student. So the purity of the teaching stays. If the teaching is pure the education is not affected by wish of making money and money is just something that you get from your effort and time with the student. Teaching music can be only as honest as music itself. And I think music is 100% honest.

GL
Jaak

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#1756899 - 09/21/11 08:19 PM Re: Parents sitting in on EVERY lesson :( [Re: Stanny]
david_a Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/11/09
Posts: 2913
Originally Posted By: Stanny
Originally Posted By: david_a
Originally Posted By: Diane...
But at the end of the day, you have to remember you are serving the paying customer. And accomodate whatever requests that paying customer wants.
I don't think this is true. This attitude works for businesses that are selling a product, but teachers are not selling a product. The piano teacher's "customers" are there because they want to learn piano, and sometimes the teacher has to say, "In order to learn piano you need to do it this way, not the way you were originally expecting".

To put it another way - the following statement is not strictly correct but makes the issue perfectly clear - the piano-lesson customer is WRONG, and that's exactly why he wants lessons!

We are here to teach piano; we are NOT here to do everything the customer asks. If he asks for something incompatible with good piano teaching, it's our duty to say no.


Woah, I really disagree with a lot of this. We ARE selling a product....piano education....to our customers (students). Sure they have to do the practice between lessons, but our expertise is a service that is the product.

Happy customers spread the word of your value, so you have to walk the fine line between keeping them happy and yourself happy with a firm policy.
Piano education is not a product, it's education. A product is a tangible item. A hamburger is a product - a house is a product - education is not. There is no legitimate comparison to be made, other than the obvious fact that money changes hands.

It's legitimate to say that music education is a service, as long as one qualifies that by saying that education (of any kind) is not going to be handled the same way as most other services (such as a car wash or a babysitter). Education is closer (though obviously not equivalent) to the type of service provided by a lawyer or accountant, in that there are standards that are not open for customer negotiation. You are welcome to tell the babysitter how to do their job. You are not welcome to tell the lawyer or the teacher how to do theirs, in essence because you have specifically hired them to tell you what to do. It is counterproductive (not to mention perverse) to hire someone to tell you what to do and then not do it.
_________________________
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#1756945 - 09/21/11 10:03 PM Re: Parents sitting in on EVERY lesson :( [Re: chasingrainbows]
LeaC Offline
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Registered: 09/13/11
Posts: 413
Loc: USA
Guess what I do in these cases? I keep a small tape recorder nearby, (for rehearsal runs,too). I ask, very deliberately, for the parent to supply a cassette tape. I record every lesson for those who can't or won't recall what happened in this lesson. And, it also stops most bad behavior immediately! I am careful to write in their notebooks, for them, but also to protect myself.
_________________________
Working on: Reworking Bartok's Suite Opus 14, Chopin's Polonaise Op.40, The Military (so much fun!)

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#1756962 - 09/21/11 10:36 PM Re: Parents sitting in on EVERY lesson :( [Re: Diane...]
LeaC Offline
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Registered: 09/13/11
Posts: 413
Loc: USA
Wow, Diane, with all due respect, I take serious issue with your comments regarding pleasing the student to make money. I make my money by providing an excellent service as an teacher known for my effectiveness in producing good students (even the hard ones!). Maybe you don't mean it as mercinary as it sounds. There are constant conflicts between those who teach as experts in their field, and certainly know whats best for the student, and those who will try to control the teachers output, or values, just to keep a customer who is shooting themselves in the foot by trying to call the shots! I get paid because I DO know whats best for my students. In fine art, which is primarily my goal, although I use differing styles of music, there is a standard which must be met. There is no way in the world I am about to lower my standards to accomodate either a pushy student, parent, administrator or store manager. That said, there are times when one is forced to work within the confines of a poor manager.

My product is my student.

Furthermore, I win my students over with my ability to communicate well with them, not give into their demands, which often are not good for them. I assume we are not talking about having a happy experience at the lesson. We are talking about what the teacher deems best. And, yes, I can keep a full time studio and be relatively secure that I am doing the best for the student.

It is difficult to walk the tight-rope of making money for a store, and sticking to your values. They are too often not supportive of teachers in fear of offending a parent. This, I feel, is wrong. Likewise, administrations, as i have taught in two colleges, CAN be unsupportive because they aren't in music, and don't get it. I have have gotten lots of support from the admins, but there have been a few who will sell out a music education before you can say "count that!".

This is a sore point with me. Teachers appreciate getting tranfer students who are not used to being catered to. I am a hard act to follow becuase of my abilities, not because I give them their way for the sake of keeping them on.

BTW, I refernce myself because I don't feel that I can use anyone else to represent me, and still be fair to that person.

Thank you.
_________________________
Working on: Reworking Bartok's Suite Opus 14, Chopin's Polonaise Op.40, The Military (so much fun!)

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#1757014 - 09/21/11 11:59 PM Re: Parents sitting in on EVERY lesson :( [Re: LeaC]
Diane... Offline
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Registered: 11/16/06
Posts: 3443
Loc: Western Canada
Originally Posted By: Lea's Muse-ic
Wow, Diane, with all due respect, I take serious issue with your comments regarding pleasing the student to make money. I make my money by providing an excellent service as an teacher known for my effectiveness in producing good students (even the hard ones!). Maybe you don't mean it as mercinary as it sounds. There are constant conflicts between those who teach as experts in their field, and certainly know whats best for the student, and those who will try to control the teachers output, or values, just to keep a customer who is shooting themselves in the foot by trying to call the shots! I get paid because I DO know whats best for my students. In fine art, which is primarily my goal, although I use differing styles of music, there is a standard which must be met. There is no way in the world I am about to lower my standards to accomodate either a pushy student, parent, administrator or store manager. That said, there are times when one is forced to work within the confines of a poor manager.

My product is my student.

Furthermore, I win my students over with my ability to communicate well with them, not give into their demands, which often are not good for them. I assume we are not talking about having a happy experience at the lesson. We are talking about what the teacher deems best. And, yes, I can keep a full time studio and be relatively secure that I am doing the best for the student.

It is difficult to walk the tight-rope of making money for a store, and sticking to your values. They are too often not supportive of teachers in fear of offending a parent. This, I feel, is wrong. Likewise, administrations, as i have taught in two colleges, CAN be unsupportive because they aren't in music, and don't get it. I have have gotten lots of support from the admins, but there have been a few who will sell out a music education before you can say "count that!".

This is a sore point with me. Teachers appreciate getting tranfer students who are not used to being catered to. I am a hard act to follow becuase of my abilities, not because I give them their way for the sake of keeping them on.

BTW, I refernce myself because I don't feel that I can use anyone else to represent me, and still be fair to that person.

Thank you.


Whoa whoa whoa! Let's take a BIG step back here.

First of all I'm not talking about "all students" I'm talking about 4 year old students who have, say, a protective MOM! Those moms are the ones I'm addressing. The MOM is paying ME, not the 4 year old, so all I am saying is that I need to "LISTEN" to the mom's requests & figure out what it is she is saying in regards to being in the room with her child! Those parents can have all kinds of issue (won't go into all their fears/wants/questions/ . . . no matter how ridiculous those can & may be!!! Believe me, I've heard strange, to/I didn't think of that! But my statement was "totally taken out of context". I said . . . WITHIN REASON! I'm only addressing 4 (6) year olds & their parents NOT ALL STUDENTS! Let's make that clear. I don't compromise my standard as I assume you don't either.

We are discussing a very young group of kids! 4 year olds only at this time. So I was addressing only this group! 4 year olds & their parent`s fears/wants/questions.


And my original statement was to help this teacher see that "within reason", because if you are a mother, sometimes your fears can simply be "unreasonable", but COMMUNICATION with these young mothers is so important! Listen to the mother/fathers of THESE 4 year olds (we aren't talking about older students as far as I noticed) I understood we were talking about 4 year olds with concerned parents.

That was all I was addressing!

My original statement (for 4 year olds) was:
But at the end of the day, you have to remember you are serving the paying customer. And accomodate whatever requests that paying customer wants. Within reason of course, . . .

Honest, I`m not disagreeing with you. If you are a parent, you will understand that moms & dads of 4 year olds can be very over protective, want their child to `get it` want the best for their child! . . . understandably so, but I`m addressing the young parents here not all students as a whole!

I hate writing essays, but hope you understand I agree whole heartedly with what you said, just that Ì`m not addressing ALL students, only these 4 year olds & their mothers! Mother`s can be very over protective! (understandable but add patience & it`s do-able)!!! . . . grin!
_________________________
http://www.pianoworld.com/Uploads/files/goldsparkledress.jpg
Diane
Jazz/Blues/Rock/Boogie Piano Teacher


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#1757085 - 09/22/11 03:37 AM Re: Parents sitting in on EVERY lesson :( [Re: david_a]
kevinb Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/18/09
Posts: 1565
Originally Posted By: david_a
Piano education is not a product, it's education. A product is a tangible item. A hamburger is a product - a house is a product - education is not. There is no legitimate comparison to be made, other than the obvious fact that money changes hands.


I'm sorry to be blunt, but that's nonsense. I can't find a nicer way of putting it. Sorry.

When I taught in universities, my colleages and I always got a certain warm fuzzy from thinking that education was something privileged, something above the mundane, grubby world of business and commerce that everybody else lived in. We railed against governmental attempts to make as adapt to the need of 'employers', whatever they were. Employers come and go, we said, but we'll still be teaching Virgil fifty years from now, just like we have for the last thousand years, blah, blah, blah...

It was, indeed, marvellous to feel one was working in the only profession where the customer was always wrong.

But, for better or worse, the basic exigencies of capitalism mean that anybody who has to make a living and who takes that attitude will, end the end, fail. It no longer works very well in the public sector, and it certainly doesn't in the private.

If you have the good fortune to work in an area where demand exceeds supply, then you can get away with it for a while. But probably only until other people realize there is a market opportunity you are missing.

As a private tutor you're entitled to run your business any way you like, and you don't have to account for your policies to anybody else. If you want to make it a condition of business that you piano students' parents turn cartwheels in the street during their kids' lessons you can, and you don't have to explain it to anybody. It's your business.

But the downside of that freedom is that you can't legitimately complain when you have no customers.

In practice, most businesses have to find some kind of working arrangement that balances what they want to provide with what customers want to consume. Nobody's suggesting that you become your students' bitch. But operating in the real world means recognizing that balances have to be found, and accomodations made, by all parties.

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#1757208 - 09/22/11 10:22 AM Re: Parents sitting in on EVERY lesson :( [Re: chasingrainbows]
chasingrainbows Offline
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Registered: 09/19/06
Posts: 1058
Loc: NJ
Diane, if you check back on the first page of this thread, you'll see that I agreed that a parent should sit in on lessons for a 4 year old. I am in complete agreement with that. However, I've noticed that as soon as I consented to one parent sitting in on her 6 year old daughter's lessons, it became a regular event, then she brought in her other child. Now, all parents of my children from 5 to 7 are sitting in on every lesson. This week I gave a first lesson to two 6 year old children. Mom came in to observe (which I expect) and wanted to also bring in another person. 5 people in one tiny studio is out of the question. I told the 5th person they would have to wait outside, the room could not accomodate that many people. There are so many additional issues to handle when parents join lessons, which for me, creates tension in the lesson and takes time away from an already short lesson period.

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#1757466 - 09/22/11 03:48 PM Re: Parents sitting in on EVERY lesson :( [Re: kevinb]
keystring Online   content
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Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11658
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Teaching music being a business is a factor. It is best for us to be aware of it both for teachers and students/parents because it has effects and side effects. If we know of them then we can deal with them.

"Pure" music teaching probably would be giving a student all the tools of musicianship: technique, reading ability, understanding of music by knowing history theory etc, the gradual ability to interpret music using these. Teaching has to go a certain way, the student has to apply himself a certain way, and parents have to be supportive.

One lucrative "marketplace" are your well off families. They may want lessons in order to compete in competitions or high exam grades. Teachers in the same area compete for these clients. Will reading skills and learning to understand and interpret music show up at competitions? Or will they slow down getting these impressive performances done a certain way to wow judges? Will the public believe that the students who perform earlier and more impressively, maybe choreographed to the hilt, have the "better" teacher? What if music lessons themselves are promoted along this line, so that parents are kept to this line of thinking?

There are other markets and other niches that promote along other lines. This is a reality of music lessons. Meanwhile the other reality is that parents and students do not know about lessons, how to work with a teacher and how not to, what expectations to have and not have - and yet they need to work with the teacher or in the least not to interfere. You can't ignore the client because this client is in your face.

Now we come into this mess either as parents or adult students. Music is a noble thing and teachers are above-human magicians who are guardians of the sacred. If both parent and teacher are into the competition thing, and the teacher can tell the parent his part, maybe they'll make a good team and maybe little Johnny will even like competing. It can also happen that the student wants to full deal and doesn't understand that there is a package. We won't know that the teaching is toward winning competitions, or passing exams, or adults quickly getting what they need to play their favourite songs. We don't even know this exists.

Our kids become the transfer student who plays 4 pieces wonderfully like a genius but can't read notes or do anything independently. Or some other product of a process. We may be induced to change to a "better" teacher who is better because he is "faster", wins more competitions or whatever. Or we may get a teacher who compromises to what we want or what people commonly want because that "keeps the market".

It is unrealistic to pretend that there is no market because it's everywhere. I think that if we are aware of it, educate ourselves, deal with it and make our choices it is a lot better than stumbling around. We might still make those kinds of choices as students/parents but it would be conscious. Above all, if everyone is aware then they can work together for real goals instead of being tossed around by this market. Maybe this is overly idealistic but it could be a starting point for maybe a small change for those who want it.

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#1757623 - 09/22/11 07:14 PM Re: Parents sitting in on EVERY lesson :( [Re: chasingrainbows]
LeaC Offline
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Registered: 09/13/11
Posts: 413
Loc: USA
While there are differing personalities and demands placed on the teacher, I think it is best to start out with firm policies. Get to know the people for a few weeks or months. Then we can change things as we are comfortable. I will repeat, and not really to you, chasingrainbows, that making a list of the issues, and writing out a planned response will keep you in charge. The teacher is always in charge.

If you don't have space, you can't change that. So, the parent has to change their expectation. You might have a note written in advance that says "Only one person in the studio with the student." or "No one else is allowed in the studio, thank you."

Just like teaching, one must continue to try different things until it clicks for both you and the parent/student.
_________________________
Working on: Reworking Bartok's Suite Opus 14, Chopin's Polonaise Op.40, The Military (so much fun!)

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#1757624 - 09/22/11 07:16 PM Re: Parents sitting in on EVERY lesson :( [Re: keystring]
LeaC Offline
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Registered: 09/13/11
Posts: 413
Loc: USA
The reality of teaching music is best expressed by those who have spent a life time doing it, thank you.
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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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#1757630 - 09/22/11 07:26 PM Re: Parents sitting in on EVERY lesson :( [Re: LeaC]
LeaC Offline
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Registered: 09/13/11
Posts: 413
Loc: USA
Thanks for clearing that up, Diane. I am a mother, however, I was teacher before that, and a student before that. So, I have always known how to behave at lessons. The way I relate to these mothers is from my experience as a teacher, for the most part. I didn't think this was relevant to the original post, but I'll tell you that I have been (retired now) a highly trained and successful Suzuki teacher since 1986. Personally, my view point is a lot different than many here. It's another world where families are encouraged to be involved and take responsibility for their child's practice at home. I had much training for this, and I made a concious choice that this is what I wanted to do. So, I am totally used to dealing with siblings and others. Yes, I do give the siblings a sticker at the end of the lesson for being quiet, or coloring pictures for me, etc. Works like a charm! This is probably not possible in the situation in question here, though.
_________________________
Working on: Reworking Bartok's Suite Opus 14, Chopin's Polonaise Op.40, The Military (so much fun!)

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#1757641 - 09/22/11 07:49 PM Re: Parents sitting in on EVERY lesson :( [Re: kevinb]
LeaC Offline
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Registered: 09/13/11
Posts: 413
Loc: USA
Hi Kevin,

I hear what your saying. It is getting worse, though. The public demands are affecting our universities, our orchestras, our secondary schools, our radio stations. This is a vast topic, isn't it? I don't see it as being stuck up about education. I don't hear mathmaticians complaining about this. I don't hear computer software developers complaining about this. Ever talked to a group of physicists? Trust me, they are in their own world and wouldn't even consider lowering themselves for business purposes, at least not in the context we are speaking of here.

It does seem to be happening in the English language, too, and the downward pull is becoming evident in our society.

Why should we be the ones to cater to the lowest common denominator? That, I believe is whats behind the snobbery.

You have to be very clever to convince a lot of people that you can please them and keep your standards high. Very clever. My biggest weapon is my knowledge of piano literature. This is how I keep people happy, and they still learn exactly what I want them to know.

Thank you.
_________________________
Working on: Reworking Bartok's Suite Opus 14, Chopin's Polonaise Op.40, The Military (so much fun!)

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#1757648 - 09/22/11 08:03 PM Re: Parents sitting in on EVERY lesson :( [Re: LeaC]
currawong Offline
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Registered: 05/15/07
Posts: 5921
Loc: Down Under
Originally Posted By: Lea's Muse-ic
The reality of teaching music is best expressed by those who have spent a life time doing it, thank you.
We've discussed this before, and the consensus was that contributions from non-teachers are welcome, as long as it's clear (when relevant) that they're speaking as a parent, or an adult student, not a teacher. I've gained valuable insights from students and parents here.
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#1757651 - 09/22/11 08:15 PM Re: Parents sitting in on EVERY lesson :( [Re: currawong]
jotur Online   blank
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Registered: 09/16/06
Posts: 5507
Loc: Santa Fe, NM
Originally Posted By: currawong
Originally Posted By: Lea's Muse-ic
The reality of teaching music is best expressed by those who have spent a life time doing it, thank you.
We've discussed this before, and the consensus was that contributions from non-teachers are welcome, as long as it's clear (when relevant) that they're speaking as a parent, or an adult student, not a teacher. I've gained valuable insights from students and parents here.


Thank you. I don't spend as much time in the teachers forum as I have in the past - nor at PW some weeks - but as far as I can tell all posters are welcome to post in any forum at all. I still read threads here in the teachers forum, and still learn from some of them. I've taught, though not piano, for many years. So, while I don't necessarily have lots of ideas for specific piano teaching, the human interactions don't appear to me to differ nuch across disciplines. I had a college student "threaten" to tell her mother about something at one point laugh . So, yes, I think others besides piano teachers can have valuable things to offer here. This thread doesn't really seem to be a piano-only-related kind of topic, to me.

Cathy
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#1757684 - 09/22/11 09:27 PM Re: Parents sitting in on EVERY lesson :( [Re: chasingrainbows]
keystring Online   content
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Registered: 12/11/07
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.


Edited by keystring (09/23/11 12:03 AM)

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#1757694 - 09/22/11 09:45 PM Re: Parents sitting in on EVERY lesson :( [Re: chasingrainbows]
Diane... Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/16/06
Posts: 3443
Loc: Western Canada
Originally Posted By: chasingrainbows
. . . and I'm finding myself now wondering if these parents lack confidence in me.


I think that's it right there! The first time a parent sat in on the piano lesson I was teaching with his daughter, I thought exactly the same thing. I was finding myself now wondering if this parent lack confidence in me! Bingo!

That is a very common thought. As you gain experience, you will get the "confidence" & HONEST you won't care if a parent or any parent sits in on a lesson! It's called "experience". Just fight through the lack of confidence feelings & as you start to gain parent's compliments, & you get around by word of mouth, you'll know then that you feel good about your teaching. You'll get there. Just takes time! & Think back to the good piano teacher's you had, & what THEY did that made them good.

I still have to shake my head & wonder how the "store" can place so many 4 year olds with just one piano teacher & no help, & this is why I thought having a parent or two to help "crowd control" might be to your advantage!

Anyways, the best to you!



Edited by Diane... (09/22/11 09:49 PM)
_________________________
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Diane
Jazz/Blues/Rock/Boogie Piano Teacher


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#1757778 - 09/23/11 12:13 AM Re: Parents sitting in on EVERY lesson :( [Re: kevinb]
david_a Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/11/09
Posts: 2913
Originally Posted By: kevinb
Originally Posted By: david_a
Piano education is not a product, it's education. A product is a tangible item. A hamburger is a product - a house is a product - education is not. There is no legitimate comparison to be made, other than the obvious fact that money changes hands.


I'm sorry to be blunt, but that's nonsense. I can't find a nicer way of putting it. Sorry.

When I taught in universities, my colleages and I always got a certain warm fuzzy from thinking that education was something privileged, something above the mundane, grubby world of business and commerce that everybody else lived in. We railed against governmental attempts to make as adapt to the need of 'employers', whatever they were. Employers come and go, we said, but we'll still be teaching Virgil fifty years from now, just like we have for the last thousand years, blah, blah, blah...

It was, indeed, marvellous to feel one was working in the only profession where the customer was always wrong.

But, for better or worse, the basic exigencies of capitalism mean that anybody who has to make a living and who takes that attitude will, end the end, fail. It no longer works very well in the public sector, and it certainly doesn't in the private.

If you have the good fortune to work in an area where demand exceeds supply, then you can get away with it for a while. But probably only until other people realize there is a market opportunity you are missing.

As a private tutor you're entitled to run your business any way you like, and you don't have to account for your policies to anybody else. If you want to make it a condition of business that you piano students' parents turn cartwheels in the street during their kids' lessons you can, and you don't have to explain it to anybody. It's your business.

But the downside of that freedom is that you can't legitimately complain when you have no customers.

In practice, most businesses have to find some kind of working arrangement that balances what they want to provide with what customers want to consume. Nobody's suggesting that you become your students' bitch. But operating in the real world means recognizing that balances have to be found, and accomodations made, by all parties.
Arguing that a piano lesson is neither a hamburger nor a house does not amount to arguing that it's privileged in some way, and I don't believe anything like what you're pretending I believe.

A product is tangible. A service is not. A product and a service are not the same thing. It's pretty simple.

In your university, did students bring bottles of whisky to class and drink them there? Many of them certainly would have preferred to do so. If they had done it, would you have let them, because of course they were paying customers and therefore they were right?

Or (for a comparison more apropos in this thread) did you expect and encourage all students to bring both parents and all their siblings to every class?


Edited by david_a (09/23/11 01:54 AM)
Edit Reason: Added last paragraph

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#1757804 - 09/23/11 01:35 AM Re: Parents sitting in on EVERY lesson :( [Re: LeaC]
Gary D. Offline
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Registered: 08/30/08
Posts: 4785
Loc: South Florida
Originally Posted By: Lea's Muse-ic

Wow, Diane, with all due respect, I take serious issue with your comments regarding pleasing the student to make money. I make my money by providing an excellent service as an teacher known for my effectiveness in producing good students (even the hard ones!).

1) Most of us who have been in this forum for awhile know that Diane is both a dedicated teacher and a very VERY pleasant person to talk to. I think you are jumping to conclusions.

2) Why on earth does there need to be a conflict between producing good students and working hard to make these students happy? I think that music should be pure joy, and although there are moments, for both my students and me, when things are hard, in the long run it is working through these hard moments that lead to both success and a mutual feeling of pleasure.

3) You appear to be attempting to make yourself look "bigger" by making someone else look "smaller". Why not simply share what works for you without condescending to another member?
Quote:

There are constant conflicts between those who teach as experts in their field, and certainly know whats best for the student, and those who will try to control the teachers output, or values, just to keep a customer who is shooting themselves in the foot by trying to call the shots! I get paid because I DO know whats best for my students.

Well, I have been teaching for over four decades, and I can't say that I "know what's best for the student". *Sometimes* I do. Sometimes I see problems that are going to be so serious that they may never be fixed, if they are not corrected NOW, and then I feel safe in jumping in, being a bit hard, and demanding to be followed.

But there are other times when I do not know students well enough to be sure what is best for them, and I can make serious mistakes if I do not take into consideration their dreams, fears, hopes AND their everyday battles with life itself.


Edited by Gary D. (09/23/11 03:43 AM)
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#1757809 - 09/23/11 01:47 AM Re: Parents sitting in on EVERY lesson :( [Re: LeaC]
Gary D. Offline
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Registered: 08/30/08
Posts: 4785
Loc: South Florida
Originally Posted By: Lea's Muse-ic
The reality of teaching music is best expressed by those who have spent a life time doing it, thank you.

That was an extremely nasty and unwarranted comment, thank you.

The reality of *teaching music* may be best expressed by those who have spent a life time doing it, but the reality of *being a student* is probably best expressed by those who are students.

Furthermore, to ignore the input of serious students, some of whom may have personally experienced poor teaching or who have seen OTHER students badly damaged by teachers whose egos are far greater than their teaching ability, is condescending and arrogant.

I have been on both ends. I have been badly damaged, as a student, by following horrible advice given by two poor teachers, and I have seen many students who have done the same.

I found Keystring's summation to be both well thought out and remarkably on target.


Edited by Gary D. (09/23/11 01:52 AM)
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#1757847 - 09/23/11 06:52 AM Re: Parents sitting in on EVERY lesson :( [Re: david_a]
kevinb Offline
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Registered: 09/18/09
Posts: 1565
Originally Posted By: david_a
Arguing that a piano lesson is neither a hamburger nor a house does not amount to arguing that it's privileged in some way, and I don't believe anything like what you're pretending I believe.

A product is tangible. A service is not. A product and a service are not the same thing. It's pretty simple.


I don't think it matter whether education is a product or a service or something else. It doesn't matter whether it's tanglible or not. Personally, I think that calling education a product does not do any greater violence to the word than calling a bank loan a product, and that seems to be commonplace these days.

But no matter -- it's just a word. Whatever word we use, private education is something we do in exchange for money. It's not clear to me that it is, or even should be, different from anything else we do for money.

Quote:
In your university, did students bring bottles of whisky to class and drink them there?


Only if they brought enough for everybody smile

In fact, I allowed worse things. I admitted students to my courses whom I knew would most likely not succeed, because we couldn't afford to run half-empty classes. I allowed things to be taught that I thought were academically irrelevant because students thought they would 'look good on my CV'. I did allow students to bring their kids to classes but, unlike the academic compromises, I don't regret that -- it was definitely the right thing to do in the circumstances.

As I said, the fact that my students are my employer doesn't make me their bitch. If my boss asks me to give him a handjob, I won't (um... not that he ever has, of course). But in the interests of continuing to get paid, I will be flexible about the way I work and the duties I will take on.

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#1757853 - 09/23/11 07:12 AM Re: Parents sitting in on EVERY lesson :( [Re: LeaC]
kevinb Offline
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Registered: 09/18/09
Posts: 1565
Originally Posted By: Lea's Muse-ic

The public demands are affecting our universities, our orchestras, our secondary schools, our radio stations. This is a vast topic, isn't it? I don't see it as being stuck up about education. I don't hear mathmaticians complaining about this. I don't hear computer software developers complaining about this.


I do. I'm old enough to remember the fuss about the Monty Finiston report on engineering and science higher education (1980-ish). Finiston's recommendation, which was taken up by the Government, was that engineering should be more 'practical' and employer-centered. It wasn't very popular in universtities, who tended to view engineering and science as branches of applied mathematics (I still do :)).

The process of 'commercializing' education may have started well before that -- I don't know, it was before my time. In any event, it's not just music and the arts.

Many (most?) of us who are drawn to education as a career do have some idea that there's more at stake than a crass exchange of money. We do have an idea that there's some sort of standard that ought to be maintained, regardless of political and social considerations. If we do, it's pretty hard (in my experience) to maintain such a standard in the present climate. Perhaps it always has been.

To be 'stuck up' isn't necessarily a bad thing -- I think there is such a thing as high culture and it's worth fighting to keep it alive. And, again, not just in music. It bugs me that the majority of high-school students don't study calculus in the UK. Or, indeed, read Virgil.

But if we try to pretent that we don't live in a supply-and-demand culture, we're going to come unstuck. It's hard to be cultured when you're living in a cardboard box.

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#1757969 - 09/23/11 12:53 PM Re: Parents sitting in on EVERY lesson :( [Re: kevinb]
Diane... Offline
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Registered: 11/16/06
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Originally Posted By: kevinb
Originally Posted By: Lea's Muse-ic

The public demands are affecting our universities, our orchestras, our secondary schools, our radio stations. This is a vast topic, isn't it? I don't see it as being stuck up about education.


To be 'stuck up' isn't necessarily a bad thing -- I think there is such a thing as high culture and it's worth fighting to keep it alive.


I don't think "stuck up" is ever in fashion!

We don't dress like the 1700's so why should we continue to "play" like the 1700's. We all know students who have taken classical lessons to the grade 10 level, passed the grade 10 exam, then carefully place their classical piano books in the piano bench, & never touched the piano again. I can name 5 right off the top of my head. (They weren't my students) There is more to piano than just classical. One day I got real, & realized there was a need out there for kids to play Disney, jazz, blues, rock & yes classical. These kids were coming to me from classical exclusive teachers. (My business, yes it's a business, got around by "Word of Mouth" advertisement) What a revelation to me to realize that it was alright to teach kids how to play the piano with a "praise team" in a band at church. But they didn't have a clue how until they were taught how to. How to use lead sheets. There is a lot those "universities" aren't teaching. Good thing I discovered 3 years into teaching that I was proud to teach kids to play music they REALLY wanted to play. No shame in that!!!!! Students do go thru RCM exams with me but they are going to get much more than just a piece of paper. Some students have been with me 8 years. & play stuff like "Linus & Lucy", Christmas music, national anthems, Jerry Lee Lewis, & yes, Beatles music, etc.
I wanted to play "beatles" music on the piano when I took piano lessons, & remember asking my classical piano teacher WHEN would I get to play some beatles music? I really don't think she knew how to play beatles music on the piano actually!
It has cost me a pretty penny to make this change.

Classical exclusive piano teachers don't like me very much because they know that what I'm selling, people are buying. grin

Yes we can have it all in music. Just takes "smart" people to think & not behave like complaining little "children"!

______________________________________
Edit: highlighted the words "stuck up"


Edited by Diane... (09/23/11 01:06 PM)
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#1757989 - 09/23/11 01:25 PM Re: Parents sitting in on EVERY lesson :( [Re: kevinb]
david_a Offline
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Registered: 11/11/09
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Originally Posted By: kevinb
I don't think it matter whether education is a product or a service or something else. It doesn't matter whether it's tanglible or not. Personally, I think that calling education a product does not do any greater violence to the word than calling a bank loan a product, and that seems to be commonplace these days.

But no matter -- it's just a word. Whatever word we use, private education is something we do in exchange for money. It's not clear to me that it is, or even should be, different from anything else we do for money.
Fair enough.

Quote:
I did allow students to bring their kids to classes but, unlike the academic compromises, I don't regret that -- it was definitely the right thing to do in the circumstances.
How about all the students bringing both of their parents (or two children each, for the older students), to every class every day? That's much closer to the issue at hand.

Quote:
As I said, the fact that my students are my employer doesn't make me their bitch. If my boss asks me to give him a handjob, I won't (um... not that he ever has, of course). But in the interests of continuing to get paid, I will be flexible about the way I work and the duties I will take on.

Agreed. But students bringing other people to class, so that the number of extras is greater than the number of students and everyone is distracted by their presence, is (in my mind) crossing some kind of line.
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#1758150 - 09/23/11 06:35 PM Re: Parents sitting in on EVERY lesson :( [Re: david_a]
kevinb Offline
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Registered: 09/18/09
Posts: 1565
Originally Posted By: david_a
Agreed. But students bringing other people to class, so that the number of extras is greater than the number of students and everyone is distracted by their presence, is (in my mind) crossing some kind of line.


Sure. The problem with bending over backwards to suit your students, at the expense of what you know is likely to be productive, is that you end up losing students anyway, because they don't feel they're getting along. But it still seems to me to be a business decision, even if it happens to one that aligns with your professional integrity.

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#1758154 - 09/23/11 06:43 PM Re: Parents sitting in on EVERY lesson :( [Re: Diane...]
kevinb Offline
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Registered: 09/18/09
Posts: 1565
Originally Posted By: Diane...
Originally Posted By: kevinb
Originally Posted By: Lea's Muse-ic

The public demands are affecting our universities, our orchestras, our secondary schools, our radio stations. This is a vast topic, isn't it? I don't see it as being stuck up about education.


To be 'stuck up' isn't necessarily a bad thing -- I think there is such a thing as high culture and it's worth fighting to keep it alive.


I don't think "stuck up" is ever in fashion!

We don't dress like the 1700's so why should we continue to "play" like the 1700's.


Sure -- I wasn't suggesting living in the past. There's good material to be found in the art and music of all styles and eras. The problem is that it doesn't always correspond with what is popular at the time.

There's nothing wrong with being popular, or with a teacher focussing on the popular to attract or retain students. But it concerns me that we have a tendency to concern ourselves _only_ with what is current, and neglect everything else -- particular when that is what best pays the bills.

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#1758202 - 09/23/11 08:51 PM Re: Parents sitting in on EVERY lesson :( [Re: kevinb]
Georginamca Offline
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Registered: 09/23/11
Posts: 4
I am a parent (who went to specialist music school aged 11 briefly and left of my own accord) and had grade VIII on 2 instruments by 14. I have now seen daughter's music teachers in action for piano and harp. She is 12.

Piano teacher is quite "modern" - I see the pupils before and after with contemporary stuff under their arm. Mine gets given a choice (didn't happen in my day) but chooses classical. I do not go into the lessons, I nip to a cafe for a coffee with a book. But, I have had to have words several times about lack of goals and lack of details in the practice book on several occasions. Progress has been slower than with the first (now retired) more old school piano teacher where I used to sit in (in silence - just how I felt she liked it but never discussed). I had to ask for lessons to go to 45 mins as they never got time on each piece and did very little sightreading and aurals. I was sick of teaching them myself on the side. I have input into practice, often from the kitchen, she asks for my help with diffiult passages and I often play one hand for her when she is learning new piece.

The harp one is "old school" in outlook - more rigorous, expects theory to be done at home, gives us loads of extra time off her own bat, does ensembles in her own time. Arranges lots of concerts. Like my old teachers, its a profession not a business. It is more a passing on of what one knows to your apprentices. They are like a second family to her. She is a very senior Suzuki teacher so it is part of the deal that a parent is there and she writes nothing during the lessons. I know she deals with sibs in there often. I am sure she has no objections. There is a play area in the corner for them with things to do. I am not silent in the lessons - we all talk together. I have seen many masterclasses for daughter from world class teacher/performer on harp and our regular teacher asks me my thoughts a lot (she learnt the instrument as an adult interestingly and knows that she has lots more to learn). The goals are obvious - concerts, masterclasses, ensembles, orchestra pieces all with deadlines. She never mentions how to organise this - she knows that DD and I look at it together whenever daughter wants to commit to anything and make written schedules. Progress is outstanding. If I were not at the practices the technique would fall over even now after 4 years. It is such a technical instrument and difficult to see both hands even with a big mirror up.

Why dont I change piano to the second teacher whose main insturment is piano? Cos I dont think any of us could keep up with the pace! Daughter is highly strung so best to divide up the work a bit.

And daughter adores the dog at the piano teacher's place! She would probably make better progress elsewhere but its always a risk to change a child like her (Aspergers and highly gifted) - could all fall apart and she is happy there.

You all undoubtably have pupils who would do much better with a parent in (actually nearly all your younger pupils would in my opinion) and some who would do worse or get bolshy. Your challenge is to find out who is who and how to decide to make the change to individual study (which is very child/teen dependent not teacher dependent) and will happen at different times for each).

It is very motivating to have a parent appreciate your work. They are there every day. They are 100% why a young child gets into a practice routine no matter what else is going on. I got into great habits from early age thanks to my mother and first teacher who worked as a team from 4-9 years of age. I was then lazy but perfectly capable of going it alone when I felt like it.

That teacher was like having a clone of Philip Johnston's practice books next to you. Everything he writes about now she had already taught me 40 years ago! How many of you teach how to practice in that sort of detail as a matter of interest? How many of you just write something like Merry Peasant 1st 2 lines? 1st 2 lines hands sep or tog at what speed, with or without dynamics and with how many errors per playthough....??? Or "Emaj scale 2 octaves hands tog" (er, leg or stac, p or f, what speed, what rhythms, etc etc). From what I see of friends who have kids who play that is an area many teachers could and should work on.

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#1758297 - 09/24/11 12:43 AM Re: Parents sitting in on EVERY lesson :( [Re: currawong]
LeaC Offline
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Registered: 09/13/11
Posts: 413
Loc: USA
No, I don't think that's always clear at all.

I will continue to post the most accurate and helpful information that I can to teachers might find it useful.


Edited by Lea's Muse-ic (09/24/11 12:52 AM)
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#1758303 - 09/24/11 12:51 AM Re: Parents sitting in on EVERY lesson :( [Re: kevinb]
LeaC Offline
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Registered: 09/13/11
Posts: 413
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@ Diane and Kevin

Good discussion! The only reason I mentioned fine arts is because I don't want to speak for another part of the music industry that I don't have much experience in. Frankly, I don't see where the past was ever brought up. Classical music is alive and well. It's people's attitudes about education that I was addressing.
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#1758313 - 09/24/11 01:26 AM Re: Parents sitting in on EVERY lesson :( [Re: LeaC]
keystring Online   content
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.


Edited by keystring (09/24/11 05:12 AM)

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#1758520 - 09/24/11 03:50 PM Re: Parents sitting in on EVERY lesson :( [Re: Diane...]
LeaC Offline
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Registered: 09/13/11
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Loc: USA
Diane, just to be clear. I welcome everything about what you teach and what you are doing. No problem at all, really! I have hundreds of friends (for real) in bands of all sorts. I admire them. I certainly don't think that your choice of genre is what the issue was at all. Heck, maybe I should take some lessons from you. Nowadays they are teaching rock, jazz, electronic, avante garde, etc. in universities? It's all good, IMO. Just saying that teachers should always be the ones to make decisions about teaching. You seem like a great teacher to me. No one knows better than you about how to teach your students.
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#1758639 - 09/24/11 08:32 PM Re: Parents sitting in on EVERY lesson :( [Re: LeaC]
currawong Offline
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Registered: 05/15/07
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Originally Posted By: Lea's Muse-ic
I will continue to post the most accurate and helpful information that I can to teachers might find it useful.
Not suggesting for a moment that you shouldn't - only that you realise that everyone else has a right to do the same.
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#1758646 - 09/24/11 08:49 PM Re: Parents sitting in on EVERY lesson :( [Re: currawong]
LeaC Offline
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Registered: 09/13/11
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As is certainly evident!
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#1758923 - 09/25/11 12:43 PM Re: Parents sitting in on EVERY lesson :( [Re: chasingrainbows]
keystring Online   content
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Addressing the OT:
Lessons are not a matter of a teacher doing something to a student like a carpenter might do to wood to make a chair. The student plays a role and parent (for children) plays a role. If you have people coming together with a similar background then they will already speak the same language - then things will go smoothly because everyone is on the same page. For example, a family with a history of lessons over generations similar to what the present teacher offers. But that isn't always the case, and there seems to be friction. I think that if "customers" can become informed, and if the two sides can get a better understanding of each other, things might improve.

The Internet gives an opportunity so that people don't have to flop about wondering and missing each other. I proposed a section where teachers and both parents and adult students could discuss things. This way those who choose to do this could go there, and others could opt out. The idea was rejected as fragmenting the forum. So it has stayed part of this forum, and the ABF.

"Customer education" is part of every profession, and "understanding the customer" is too. There are few jobs that require the degree of cooperation that private lessons do. I'm not sure that a studio policy, however well written, is a complete solution. People read according to what they understand, if they read at all. Anyway, I think that a lot of frustrations on both sides could disappear if people had a way of being informed, AND of communicating. After that it's attitude.

It is not only that people are going into it with a lack of information. There is also deliberate misinformation for commercial reasons. We're coming into your studios with wrong expectations, and comparing you according to false standards so that en masse there is a pressure which threatens the field, because we're being misinformed. What if information and communication could at least put a dent into that?

No, I am not a piano teacher at present. But I and people I know have been affected, including teachers. There shouldn't be an atmosphere of conflict. There is a variety of teachers, some with extensive backgrounds, with varying views. Is there a "right answer"? Members at large also have their backgrounds. It is a judgment call when to step in and when to be silent and there is always a chance of making the wrong choice.

In the past every time this kind of thing came up, it derailed the whole thread which is why I stayed silent. Since the topic here is on parents sitting in on lessons, that is a specific thing that is best addressed by those involved = music teachers. I wrote when the topic became general. Since it created an unexpected backlash on who can and can't contribute, I regret having posted.

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#1758988 - 09/25/11 02:48 PM Re: Parents sitting in on EVERY lesson :( [Re: chasingrainbows]
keystring Online   content
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I don't usually vent but maybe it's time. Here's what bothers me. Making assumptions rather than finding out what is. Skimming over things presented, and/or again assuming. Giving advice and opinions on that base, and maybe not checking whether it was on track and what effects there are. Real people with real lives are affected, and sometimes more than just the person being addressed. There is a huge chance of getting it wrong on the Internet. It can be quite harmful. This has bothered me for a long time. This is not addressed to anyone in particular.

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#1759037 - 09/25/11 04:13 PM Re: Parents sitting in on EVERY lesson :( [Re: keystring]
Gary D. Offline
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Registered: 08/30/08
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Loc: South Florida
I'm going to "cherry pick" a couple points:
Originally Posted By: keystring

1) It is not only that people are going into it with a lack of information. There is also deliberate misinformation for commercial reasons.

We are up against this:

http://www.amazon.com/Play-Piano-Flash-Favorite-Whether/dp/1401307663

We are up against similar hype that continually suggests that playing a musical instrument is something that can be learned in almost zero time.

In much the same way, language teachers have to contend with this:

http://www.amazon.com/s/?ie=UTF8&key...sl_28uyrnfb12_e

10 minutes a day of practicing Japanese is just enough time to teach anyone how to not only make a fool of him/herself but ALSO to accidentally insult the Japanese.

We are surrounded by cons, and the people who sell these materials don't have to worry about whether or not what they sell works. They just need to continue to continue selling.
Originally Posted By: keystring

2) We're coming into your studios with wrong expectations, and comparing you according to false standards so that en masse there is a pressure which threatens the field, because we're being misinformed. What if information and communication could at least put a dent into that?

I think, for teachers, the challenge is to get people to come to us and stay with us long enough to discover what we really do, what we can really offer. If people stay with us a year or more and are realistic about doing a reasonable amount of work, we have time to chip away at misconceptions--and outright lies.

For students, the challenge is not so much a challenge as luck. Many good students have come to me knowing nothing about music and nothing about what I do. They learned both while with me, so that is a win-win situation. They were lucky to get me, and I was lucky to get them.

The average teacher is just that: average. In order to get a teacher who is far better than average, either a good bit of luck OR a good bit of knowledge is necessary on the part of the student. Frankly, I think a good bit of both is usually needed.

Bottom line: at any moment there are first-rate students and first rate teachers who never have the good fortune to connect with each other due to the the overwhelming amount of misinformation and/or deliberate lying that is the norm.
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#1759135 - 09/25/11 06:33 PM Re: Parents sitting in on EVERY lesson :( [Re: Gary D.]
LeaC Offline
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Loc: USA
+ 1.
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#1759175 - 09/25/11 07:58 PM Re: Parents sitting in on EVERY lesson :( [Re: Gary D.]
keystring Online   content
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Thank you, Gary, for finding the words for this. We are all after the same goal fighting the same obstacles from opposite sides.

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#1759187 - 09/25/11 08:21 PM Re: Parents sitting in on EVERY lesson :( [Re: kevinb]
david_a Offline
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Registered: 11/11/09
Posts: 2913
Originally Posted By: kevinb
Originally Posted By: david_a
Agreed. But students bringing other people to class, so that the number of extras is greater than the number of students and everyone is distracted by their presence, is (in my mind) crossing some kind of line.


Sure. The problem with bending over backwards to suit your students, at the expense of what you know is likely to be productive, is that you end up losing students anyway, because they don't feel they're getting along. But it still seems to me to be a business decision...
Of course it is - did anybody anywhere imply that it isn't? Allowing (or not allowing, or partly allowing) non-students into a classroom is ALWAYS BOTH an important business decision AND an important educational decision. It is impossible for it to not be both. Certainly it's possible to ignore the educational effects or the business effects to some extent, but all the effects are still there.

If a person sees that an educational decision is adversely affecting business, or that a business decision is adversely affecting education, - or for that matter that a plumbing decision is adversely affecting both business and education wink - then they'll have to solve the problem in the best way they can, taking into account ... everything.

Claiming "it's all business" is a fatal mistake. Countering with "it's all education" is only parroting back that same mistake. Anyone thinking it's "all" anything has missed the boat.
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#1759383 - 09/26/11 03:07 AM Re: Parents sitting in on EVERY lesson :( [Re: chasingrainbows]
A2mom Offline
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Registered: 05/28/07
Posts: 103
Loc: Northern California
Coming in late on this thread, but want to say that both parents and teachers have a role in meeting the goal of helping our kids to love music/piano and steadily improving playing piano/making music. Parents would do well to find a teacher that fits the child and the parents in learning approach. Teachers will be happiest matching with parents and kids who can accommodate and respond to their teaching style/expectations.

We, like bitWrangler, enjoy music education as a family affair. At least one parent has sat in on piano lessons along with the sib for the past 8 years. Both kids are progressing satisfactorily, love their piano, piano lessons, and their teacher, so things have worked out well. Both are composing their own piano pieces, arranging songs they like, playing pieces that have nothing to do with lessons/assignments -- things that could not emerge from either parental or teacher instigation. We did begin with Suzuki piano so parental attendance was integral to music/piano lessons. Now we are with a retired "traditional" university piano professor who seems fine with sib and parent sitting in. In fact, we are not the only parents sitting in -- we notice that the kids whose parents do sit in on lessons are frequently the ones most happy with lessons and making wonderful music. I sit in only infrequently because I work (Dad is the lucky one going most of the time), but I learn a lot by sitting in on lessons and taking notes (what was that metronome setting the teacher suggested? what was that other piece he suggested we look at? etc.) which guides me in answering questions at home and what I might be able to say when the kids ask us to listen to their pieces at home. We try to say things that will reinforce what the teacher is trying to say/do. I think the kids have made better and faster progress because of parental interest and support. We really heard what the teacher wants in the way of shaping, tempo, rhythm, attack, playing in or out of the keys, weight shifting, etc. and can continue the line of discussion at home. If teachers can find the right way to teach/show parents to understand what they are trying to achieve, then they can create a powerful ally to educate their students and extend their teaching powers beyond the 1/2 hour lesson once a week.

While not all parents and teachers and students will be well matched for creation of the magic triangle, I think that teachers should find the highest hit rate for creating a magic triangle amongst the parents who demonstrate an interest in sitting on lessons for the purpose of advancing the goal of student progress. Obviously there is etiquette and accommodation to teaching styles which is required on the part of all parties, but rather than setting a rigid rule of "no parents, no sibs" in a studio, I'd encourage teachers to give the parents a chance at learning how to team up for a magic triangle. I love our teacher's lessons as much as my kids do.
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#1759413 - 09/26/11 04:26 AM Re: Parents sitting in on EVERY lesson :( [Re: david_a]
kevinb Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/18/09
Posts: 1565
Originally Posted By: david_a
Originally Posted By: kevinb
Originally Posted By: david_a
Agreed. But students bringing other people to class, so that the number of extras is greater than the number of students and everyone is distracted by their presence, is (in my mind) crossing some kind of line.


Sure. The problem with bending over backwards to suit your students, at the expense of what you know is likely to be productive, is that you end up losing students anyway, because they don't feel they're getting along. But it still seems to me to be a business decision...
Of course it is - did anybody anywhere imply that it isn't?


Well, um..., I think you did, when you said "The customer is always wrong". Perhaps I misunderstood you, but such a statement seems to me to a very firm rejection of the suggestion that you are running a business.

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