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#1971052 - 10/09/12 10:49 PM Paging: Piano Dad
Barb860 Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/11/09
Posts: 1644
Loc: northern California
and anyone else who would care to respond but Piano Dad I really need your help here....

new student, young man age 10. Dad has brought him to the past 3 lessons and continues to make comments while the child is playing. Way too many comments.
"Son, you know you can do that better", "Son, you know that's a c#", on and on.

I am teacher #2.
I don't want to offend Dad, because honestly I appreciate his interest in his son's musical instruction.
How to best address this?

forgot to mention that in contacting teacher #1, she said neither parent attended the lessons.


Edited by Barb860 (10/09/12 10:50 PM)
Edit Reason: more info
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#1971104 - 10/10/12 12:14 AM Re: Paging: Piano Dad [Re: Barb860]
kayvee Offline
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Registered: 09/29/12
Posts: 135
Loc: Santa Barbara
I'm not Piano Dad, but if I were you, I'd take the parent aside and be assertive.

"I appreciate that you are so knowledgeable and aware of what's going on in the lessons and you are always welcome to sit in, but I really need to be in better control so I can better teach your son. I'd like to ask that you don't correct him during the lessons. I'll make sure he plays correctly and works on his mistakes; that's what you're paying me for, after all, and I want to do my job as best as I can for you and your son."

There's probably a more tactful way, too, but in the end I think something similar will be your best course of action.
_________________________
A linguistics major who loves piano and knows too much theory/history without knowing how to play it as well as he wants to be able to.

Let's hope that changes. Taught piano for almost two years and currently working on:
"Going back to the basics..."

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#1971108 - 10/10/12 12:24 AM Re: Paging: Piano Dad [Re: Barb860]
LadyChen Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/25/12
Posts: 521
Loc: Canada
What kayvee said, and even better, ask him not to stay during the lesson.

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#1971115 - 10/10/12 12:35 AM Re: Paging: Piano Dad [Re: Barb860]
Minniemay Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/09
Posts: 1702
Loc: CA
You might also add something like, "Sometimes I choose to ignore certain errors because they are not central to the skill we are working on at the moment."
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#1971142 - 10/10/12 02:31 AM Re: Paging: Piano Dad [Re: Barb860]
rlinkt Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/08/12
Posts: 292
Loc: CA
I am an 'involved' dad as well :-) I don't think I go near this level of participation during the lessons, but I am certainly not completely passive either. Also, I have the highest regard for my daughter's teacher -- she has done wonderful things for my daughter's musical development.

Just tell the dad directly about what the limits are during the lessons. If the dad does not agree, it won't work over the long haul anyway.

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#1971182 - 10/10/12 06:29 AM Re: Paging: Piano Dad [Re: Barb860]
DadAgain Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/09/09
Posts: 365
Loc: Brisbane, QLD
Yep - I'm a permanent fixture in daughter's lessons, but I sit there and don't interrupt unless questioned or invited to comment.

I think you need to make clear what the level of acceptable participation is and in all probability this parent will be devastatingly embarrassed that what he thinks is helping is actually interrupting.
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Hack Pianist.... (faded skills from glory days 20 yrs ago)
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Former conductor... (been a long time since I was set loose with a magic wand!)

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#1971192 - 10/10/12 07:29 AM Re: Paging: Piano Dad [Re: Barb860]
ten left thumbs Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/22/09
Posts: 3328
Loc: Scotland
Does he do that when the kid's practising?
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#1971215 - 10/10/12 08:40 AM Re: Paging: Piano Dad [Re: Barb860]
apple* Offline


Registered: 01/01/03
Posts: 19862
Loc: Kansas
there is a reason i let my kids play thru a song and not interrupt them.. sometimes they get it better on the 2nd line.. sometimes a big mistake in technique is revealed. - the kids are much more relaxed if allowed to show what they have practiced.
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#1971230 - 10/10/12 09:51 AM Re: Paging: Piano Dad [Re: Barb860]
Lollipop Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/28/09
Posts: 820
Loc: Georgia
The dad is trying to show you that he is involved, is aware, is musically competent.

I would establish limits in a friendly, off-the-cuff way. "No comments from the peanut gallery." or "Everybody's a critic." or even a quick, "shhh."

If it persisted, I would tell him casually that it was refreshing to have such an involved parent, but that during lessons I really need to be the only teacher. Team-teaching during lessons would be counter-productive because I might be listening for or working on different things.
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#1971261 - 10/10/12 11:02 AM Re: Paging: Piano Dad [Re: Barb860]
Ann in Kentucky Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/22/08
Posts: 2643
Loc: Kentucky
Barb, I do not have experience with a parent of a 10 year old sitting in on lessons. Yet my policy is that a parent is welcome to observe.

I would ask the parent if he intends to observe all lessons. And then ask what he hopes to gain from it. I'd let him know that I don't think it is necessary. Still, I'd let him know that I allow one parent at a time to observe, but prefer that they do not comment during the lesson, unless to clarify a point with me.


Edited by Ann in Kentucky (10/10/12 11:03 AM)
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#1971263 - 10/10/12 11:05 AM Re: Paging: Piano Dad [Re: Barb860]
Piano*Dad Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/12/05
Posts: 10297
Loc: Williamsburg, VA
Hi, P*D here!

I hope this thread doesn't move in the direction of parent-bash / parent-defense. I don't think that's the point here.

This behavior is extreme and dad sounds more than a touch insecure in front of you. This might all go away with a bit of gentle humor on your part.
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#1971264 - 10/10/12 11:09 AM Re: Paging: Piano Dad [Re: Lollipop]
pianomouse Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/17/12
Posts: 87
Loc: Europe
Originally Posted By: Lollipop
The dad is trying to show you that he is involved, is aware, is musically competent.

This may be right, but this is not about the Dad, but the student! If the Dad wants to be musically involved, he should take piano lessons himself.

My 10-year-olds usually come to their lessons alone, we keep a diary, so at home, it's clear what the homework is. The parents are always welcome to attend lessons, but if a parent wants to be there every time, I usually take the kid aside and ask him/her, if it's okay that the parent is attending the lessons. From that on, we can work out something new: for example that the parent attends every other lesson, or only the last 10 minutes of every lesson or only on request by the student or me.
You need to make clear (it's all been said already) that during the lesson, it's entirely about your student and you. Asking the parent to simply attend quietly is absolutely okay. Something else has been mentioned before: it would be very interesting to know, if and how the Dad interferes with the student's practising. Parents' help can be very valuable, but not all the students are comfortable with it. You may have to discuss this through as well and set up some kind of rules for it in order to make it easier for your student.
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The piano keys are black and white,
But they sound like a million colours in your mind.
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#1971314 - 10/10/12 01:09 PM Re: Paging: Piano Dad [Re: Barb860]
Peter K. Mose Online   content
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/06/12
Posts: 1242
Loc: Toronto, Ontario
Barb, do you have the physical space where Dad can be elsewhere than in your teaching room? If so, next time invite dad to please sit out there.

You need to get him out of your teaching space.


Edited by Peter K. Mose (10/10/12 02:34 PM)

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#1971356 - 10/10/12 02:30 PM Re: Paging: Piano Dad [Re: Minniemay]
rocket88 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/04/06
Posts: 3158
Originally Posted By: Minniemay
You might also add something like, "Sometimes I choose to ignore certain errors because they are not central to the skill we are working on at the moment."


One of the best posts of the day.
_________________________
Music teacher and piano player.

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#1971400 - 10/10/12 03:57 PM Re: Paging: Piano Dad [Re: Piano*Dad]
Barb860 Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/11/09
Posts: 1644
Loc: northern California
Originally Posted By: Piano*Dad
Hi, P*D here!

I hope this thread doesn't move in the direction of parent-bash / parent-defense. I don't think that's the point here.

This behavior is extreme and dad sounds more than a touch insecure in front of you. This might all go away with a bit of gentle humor on your part.



Yes this could be the case. I appreciate all replies here. The fact that you say this dad's behavior is "extreme" is especially helpful, as you were very involved and supportive in your son's musical learning experiences, and have shared much with us here. And you are right that I don't want to turn this into a parent bashing or defensive debate. I am coming from the standpoint of appreciating this dad for his involvement, and want to stay positive. We teachers need supportive parents!
But this dad is over the top and I need to nip this in the bud.
In addition, both parents are a bit insecure right now I think because I am a brand new teacher for their kids.
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#1971401 - 10/10/12 03:58 PM Re: Paging: Piano Dad [Re: rocket88]
Barb860 Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/11/09
Posts: 1644
Loc: northern California
Originally Posted By: rocket88
Originally Posted By: Minniemay
You might also add something like, "Sometimes I choose to ignore certain errors because they are not central to the skill we are working on at the moment."


One of the best posts of the day.



yes I agree!!!!
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#1971403 - 10/10/12 04:01 PM Re: Paging: Piano Dad [Re: ten left thumbs]
Barb860 Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/11/09
Posts: 1644
Loc: northern California
Originally Posted By: ten left thumbs
Does he do that when the kid's practising?


I have a feeling, yes, this has been their routine.
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#1971425 - 10/10/12 04:41 PM Re: Paging: Piano Dad [Re: Barb860]
wouter79 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/14/10
Posts: 3246
So far, no one asked about the sun that is getting the lesson. I can well imagine that HE is being getting annoyed by his dad tracing every of his steps. The particular comments that you put into his mouth are not very encouraging either so I think he would be better off without his dad sitting there.
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#1971426 - 10/10/12 04:41 PM Re: Paging: Piano Dad [Re: Barb860]
Piano*Dad Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/12/05
Posts: 10297
Loc: Williamsburg, VA
Originally Posted By: Barb860
Originally Posted By: Piano*Dad
Hi, P*D here!

I hope this thread doesn't move in the direction of parent-bash / parent-defense. I don't think that's the point here.

This behavior is extreme and dad sounds more than a touch insecure in front of you. This might all go away with a bit of gentle humor on your part.



Yes this could be the case. I appreciate all replies here. The fact that you say this dad's behavior is "extreme" is especially helpful, as you were very involved and supportive in your son's musical learning experiences, and have shared much with us here. And you are right that I don't want to turn this into a parent bashing or defensive debate. I am coming from the standpoint of appreciating this dad for his involvement, and want to stay positive. We teachers need supportive parents!
But this dad is over the top and I need to nip this in the bud.
In addition, both parents are a bit insecure right now I think because I am a brand new teacher for their kids.


Yes, I think this is extreme.

I will admit that on occasion I would "approach the bench," so to speak, to ask the teacher something or note something that I had observed at home, but constant interruption is completely counterproductive.

Does the kid basically look at dad throughout the lesson, waiting either for approval or rebuke? If so, you need to press the reset button! Gently, of course.

You do want a supportive parent, and a knowledgable one can be your best ally. But during lesson time there can be only one master. And even at home, the kid has to be able to take a breath or two without constant correction and nagging. A parent should be able to be in the room without distracting the student. Just read a newspaper or magazine! You'll still be able to follow along when needed.

For the first couple of years, I was the teacher's proverbial right hand, yet I too was "banished" from the room for a short while (a month or so, if I recall). I went, and did so without complaint. I understood that the teacher needed some complete and undivided attention. Later, I was deliberately brought back into the lesson and shown exactly what the teacher was trying to accomplish. It goes both ways. She knew I was her teaching assistant at home ... whether she liked it or not. smile

So she used that situation to her (and to my son's) advantage. Could things have gone better if I had become a potted plant? Who knows. Idle speculation.
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#1971460 - 10/10/12 05:44 PM Re: Paging: Piano Dad [Re: apple*]
PApianoteacher Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/27/12
Posts: 36
I do the same thing apple*! I like to establish if it is just a one time mistake or if it is something missed consistently!

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#1971520 - 10/10/12 07:57 PM Re: Paging: Piano Dad [Re: Piano*Dad]
DadAgain Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/09/09
Posts: 365
Loc: Brisbane, QLD
Originally Posted By: Piano*Dad

I will admit that on occasion I would "approach the bench," so to speak, to ask the teacher something or note something that I had observed at home, but constant interruption is completely counterproductive.


Interesting - apart from the use of past tense instead of present tense I could have written this post almost word for word! (although I haven't been put in the 'sin bin' and banished from lessons yet!).

I'm probably more actively involved in daughters violin lessons than her piano - but thats because her teacher makes a point of involving me - asking me to watch from certain angles, comment on various technical aspects, occasionaly accompanist duties etc etc (even getting me to engineer a crude 'bow correction tool' out of a toilet roll tube, a pair of scissors and a couple of blobs of bluetack!). But still my involvement is driven entirely by teacher direction and she remains the undisputed 'director' of the 3 person team!
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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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#1971547 - 10/10/12 09:01 PM Re: Paging: Piano Dad [Re: Barb860]
rlinkt Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/08/12
Posts: 292
Loc: CA
I usually try to restrict my conversations to the very beginning or very end, and mostly be an observer in between.

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#1971581 - 10/10/12 10:15 PM Re: Paging: Piano Dad [Re: DadAgain]
kck Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/04/10
Posts: 261
Originally Posted By: DadAgain
Yep - I'm a permanent fixture in daughter's lessons, but I sit there and don't interrupt unless questioned or invited to comment.


Me too - except I'm sitting in on my son's piano lessons. I don't say a single thing unless prompted and our teacher clearly lays this out in the policy. I'm biased towards allowing a parent to sit in if the child is ok with it. If my son ever wanted to take his own notes and kick me out, I'd be fine with it.

I think an involved and engaged parent can be a music teacher's greatest ally. But interrupting during the lesson? Particularly mid-piece? Yikes. I agree this behavior is extreme. I would definitely let the parent know that you appreciate their involvement, but you would prefer to drive the lesson. Maybe give them a moment to say something at the beginning and ask questions at the end. My daughter's violin teacher particularly a nice method of saying to my daughter at the beginning "so if there anything your mom might like to tell me before we start?" and at the end "anything else mom might like to ask before we finish up?". Our piano teacher particularly encourages e-mail use for questions.


Edited by kck (10/10/12 10:16 PM)
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#1971648 - 10/11/12 03:04 AM Re: Paging: Piano Dad [Re: Barb860]
ten left thumbs Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/22/09
Posts: 3328
Loc: Scotland
Originally Posted By: Barb860
Originally Posted By: ten left thumbs
Does he do that when the kid's practising?


I have a feeling, yes, this has been their routine.


Now, you see, I would see that as a problem too. The kid probably deals with is because he's used to it. But still a problem that likely won't go away by itself.
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www.justfingers.co.uk
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#1974628 - 10/17/12 03:26 PM Re: Paging: Piano Dad [Re: ten left thumbs]
Barb860 Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/11/09
Posts: 1644
Loc: northern California
Hi, checking in here with an update on this situation.
Here's what happened:
I had a quick chat with the dad before his son's lesson yesterday and borrowed Minnie may's line suggested in this thread , "sometimes I choose to ignore issues because they're not central to the skill we're working on at the moment". I felt that this went well. Dad was very apologetic and said piano lessons are brand new for him as a parent, he wanted to support his son by sitting in on the lessons, but he was not aware of "piano lesson etiquette".
It really is up to us as teachers to not be afraid to bring up issues with parents. I was afraid of offending the dad in this case. But the short discussion went well.
He went out and ran an errand during the lesson.
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#1974671 - 10/17/12 04:00 PM Re: Paging: Piano Dad [Re: Barb860]
ten left thumbs Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/22/09
Posts: 3328
Loc: Scotland
I'm glad. Well done you for broaching this in such a way as not to have him lose face. I do wish they would all care so much! smile
_________________________
I am a competent teacher.


www.justfingers.co.uk
www.babysinging.co.uk

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#1974705 - 10/17/12 04:47 PM Re: Paging: Piano Dad [Re: ten left thumbs]
Barb860 Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/11/09
Posts: 1644
Loc: northern California
It was tricky and I was nervous about offending him. I did mention that I wished every parent cared so much like he does. I felt like it went O.K. Thanks very much for everyone's suggestions here!
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#1974718 - 10/17/12 04:58 PM Re: Paging: Piano Dad [Re: Barb860]
LadyChen Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/25/12
Posts: 521
Loc: Canada
This is awesome, Barb860 -- it sounds like the conversation went the best direction possible! And I love that he's just being over-zealous in his support -- I mean, isn't that way better than not caring? I'm glad this went well for you!

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#1974729 - 10/17/12 05:18 PM Re: Paging: Piano Dad [Re: Barb860]
Piano*Dad Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/12/05
Posts: 10297
Loc: Williamsburg, VA
It's still jarring to see my "name" in a thread title ...

This is the outcome I probably would have forecast. It's easy to build a mental image of grand confrontation on the horizon when the real issue is a bit of overzealous insecurity on his part.

And you do want parents who care.
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#1974736 - 10/17/12 05:33 PM Re: Paging: Piano Dad [Re: Piano*Dad]
ten left thumbs Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/22/09
Posts: 3328
Loc: Scotland
Originally Posted By: Piano*Dad
It's still jarring to see my "name" in a thread title ...



Hey, you're famous! smile
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I am a competent teacher.


www.justfingers.co.uk
www.babysinging.co.uk

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