Answering when parents ask "so how did the lesson go?"

Posted by: eccp19

Answering when parents ask "so how did the lesson go?" - 07/09/13 10:16 PM

Does anyone else find themselves dumbfounded what to say when asked this question after lessons? Especially week after week? I find it particularly difficult when I teach a pack of siblings and have to remember small details about progression.

What I have found is that most students progress is pretty uneventful. They work slowly through their music, need constant correction and encouragement, ect. This is the case probably 90% of the time and therefore I find it difficult to tell the parents anything meaningful about the lesson.

The other 10% of the time, the student had a really bad lesson, or a really good lesson and I have something very positive or negative to tell the parents.

Anyone else know where I'm coming from?
Posted by: ezpiano.org

Re: Answering when parents ask "so how did the lesson go?" - 07/09/13 10:19 PM



How about having parents sitting in the studio with you to watch the whole 30 minutes of lesson, then you do not need to answer this question? They can observe themselves "How did the lesson go?"

ha
Posted by: eccp19

Re: Answering when parents ask "so how did the lesson go?" - 07/09/13 10:30 PM

I teach in their homes so they already probably have some idea
Posted by: MaggieGirl

Re: Answering when parents ask "so how did the lesson go?" - 07/09/13 10:33 PM

When I ask, I am just clarifying she met expectations. So if a student is average all the time and does average in the lesson, I would just want to hear - she is on track. Or, practice more. Or if things don't go well, that she wasn't focused or check her notebook. The parent isn't looking for something major, it's just a conversation thing like, How are you? If there is something major, the teacher will bring it to attention without prompting. Just have 2-3 canned responses at the ready! laugh
Posted by: Joyce_dup1

Re: Answering when parents ask "so how did the lesson go?" - 07/09/13 11:14 PM

If I get a chance to speak with the parents following a lesson, I usually try to let them know one or two things the student is specifically working on and that I have notated in their assignment book - for example, ask the parents to please remind the student to correct their posture at the piano, or maybe they are working on "lift offs", hand position, keeping fingertips free of "dents", or they have a new piece of music that includes patterns to be worked on. That way, you are giving the parents positive response, letting them know how they can assist, and giving them some idea of what the student is learning and working to improve.
Posted by: ezpiano.org

Re: Answering when parents ask "so how did the lesson go?" - 07/09/13 11:59 PM

Having an attentive parents sitting in your lesson to observe is different than having them listen to your teaching at background while doing other things.
Posted by: AZNpiano

Re: Answering when parents ask "so how did the lesson go?" - 07/10/13 01:46 AM

Originally Posted By: eccp19
Does anyone else find themselves dumbfounded what to say when asked this question after lessons? Especially week after week? I find it particularly difficult when I teach a pack of siblings and have to remember small details about progression.

I think honesty is the best policy. If the lessons are going slowly, then tell the parents that. Don't sugarcoat it.

You might turn this conversation with the parent into an instructional one. Tell her to monitor her kids' practice at home.
Posted by: Peter K. Mose

Re: Answering when parents ask "so how did the lesson go?" - 07/10/13 06:12 AM

This question probably is dependent on the country one teaches in. For Canada or the US:

You just go on automatic pilot and smile and say, "Little Johnny really is getting the hang of that 'Robots on Parade' piece. Wow, I didn't realize he could play so loudly! Can't wait to see him next week!"

If the parents are immigrants, however, put on a concerned look, and don't be too positive. Or ask Johnny for advice on how to handle them.

Posted by: Bobpickle

Re: Answering when parents ask "so how did the lesson go?" - 07/10/13 07:00 AM

Originally Posted By: AZNpiano
You might turn this conversation with the parent into an instructional one. Tell her to monitor her kids' practice at home.


This was what I was thinking. You can either make small talk, generalize how the lesson(s) actually went, or say something alone the lines of "Good; now what I want her to practice this week is..."
Posted by: ten left thumbs

Re: Answering when parents ask "so how did the lesson go?" - 07/10/13 08:05 AM

Originally Posted By: Peter K. Mose


If the parents are immigrants, however, put on a concerned look, and don't be too positive. Or ask Johnny for advice on how to handle them.



Funny! laugh

If parent asks every week, say 'fine' and be glad they are interested. Personally I like to have a 'good chat' every now and then.
Posted by: childofparadise2002

Re: Answering when parents ask "so how did the lesson go?" - 07/10/13 08:52 AM

I'm an immigrant. If I don't sit in the lesson, then, with or without me asking, the teachers usually give me one or two very short and clear messages anyways. Such as "great, the kid came well prepared", "great, we got lots of stuff done, the kid had great focus today", "he will need to spend more time on spot x in piece y, that seems to be particularly challenging", "we made some fingering changes that he will need to get used to". I think this approach is very helpful.
Posted by: John v.d.Brook

Re: Answering when parents ask "so how did the lesson go?" - 07/10/13 10:22 AM

I usually answer, "Well." After all, my teaching was excellent, so from my perspective, the lesson went well. Now, the student, on the other hand, may have not done so well in the lesson. Then I add something on the order of, "Well, but it could have been better with a bit more preparation on X's part."
Posted by: Daytripper75

Re: Answering when parents ask "so how did the lesson go?" - 07/26/13 02:13 PM

Honestly, when I ask this I want to hear a compliment and a critique. The compliment just because I love my child and like to hear nice things about her and the critique so I can have something concrete to help her work on.
Posted by: Joyce_dup1

Re: Answering when parents ask "so how did the lesson go?" - 07/27/13 02:12 PM

Attended the NCKP and the keynote speaker specifically asked us teachers to stop using the following words: OK, Little bit (sort of, kind of), But, or Good. I thought this advice would be good to keep in mind when speaking to parents.

Instead of "but", which always brings about a moment of "now what?", use the word "and." A small thing but means a lot to the person you're speaking to.

OK? means just ok, just average, just all right. Instead we should strive for moments when we can say "beautiful." Look for moments when we can affirm their playing.

Instead of just using "good", we need to be specific. What was good? What was better?

So just passing along some thoughts and advice.
Posted by: malkin

Re: Answering when parents ask "so how did the lesson go?" - 07/27/13 02:20 PM

Do you think parents are really asking for a progress report?
I wonder if it isn't along the lines of "How are you?/Fine, thanks."

My husband usually asks me "How was it?" when I get home from my lesson, but it's just an invitation to conversation. I might talk about music of course, but I also might talk about traffic or weather or something I heard on the radio on the way home or some fragment of conversation with my teacher.
Posted by: keystring

Re: Answering when parents ask "so how did the lesson go?" - 07/27/13 02:30 PM

Originally Posted By: Peter K. Mose
This question probably is dependent on the country one teaches in. For Canada or the US:

You just go on automatic pilot and smile and say, "Little Johnny really is getting the hang of that 'Robots on Parade' piece. Wow, I didn't realize he could play so loudly! Can't wait to see him next week!"



Canadians tend to be polite and keep their real thoughts to themselves. As parents, we want to know what kind of things the child should be working on, how (whether) we can help. We definitely want to know if you have concerns - behaviour, attentiveness, appears to have practised or not. Real and concrete things. I wonder how hard it is to bite your tongue at "Wow, I didn't realize he could play so loudly!" laugh Like seriously?

Whenever I've taught, either one-on-one, or at parent teacher interviews, parents tended to look for concrete things, and often enough followed up on them. You don't meet with a teacher just to get a pat on the head.

Originally Posted By: Joyce_dup1


Instead of just using "good", we need to be specific. What was good? What was better?


Yes. thumb
Posted by: Sally C

Re: Answering when parents ask "so how did the lesson go?" - 07/29/13 11:39 AM

I usually ask because I want to know what we should focus on at home that week. Maybe some people just ask because they don't know what else to say, or want a pat on the back. My son is young enough that I have to help him with the materials at home, so if he is really struggling with something or the teacher has suggestions I want to know. It's funny, because when I was a kid I rode my bike to lessons and my parents were not involved in the least. I doubt if they ever knew what I was supposed to do, or how it was going.
Posted by: Gary D.

Re: Answering when parents ask "so how did the lesson go?" - 07/29/13 04:05 PM

When I am working with young kids, parents never need to ask me how lessons go. They are in on the lessons, a part of everything. I teach them how to teach at home.

So there are no questions about "how is it going"...
Posted by: ezpiano.org

Re: Answering when parents ask "so how did the lesson go?" - 07/29/13 06:05 PM

Originally Posted By: Gary D.
When I am working with young kids, parents never need to ask me how lessons go. They are in on the lessons, a part of everything. I teach them how to teach at home.

So there are no questions about "how is it going"...


thumb
That is what I was trying to say in Post #2115390 - 07/09/13 10:19 PM

The important part here is "Teach them (parents) how to teach at home"
Posted by: Kreisler

Re: Answering when parents ask "so how did the lesson go?" - 07/29/13 11:10 PM

Just tell the truth:

"Technique hasn't made much progress, we still need to get our hands and fingers to behave. The recital repertoire is coming along; now we need to focus on accuracy and 'selling it' on stage is what comes next. We seem to have hit a bit of a wall in our method book - rhythmic reading is fine, but we're still having trouble with reading pitch. I plan to introduce some reading supplements next week to help with that."

There's a sentence in the original post that I want to comment on:

"What I have found is that most students progress is pretty uneventful."

While a student's progress may be uneventful, the lesson should NOT be uneventful. As teachers, it's our job to make lessons very eventful so that, at the very least, we can comment on all the things we're doing to address the student's issues. When a parent asks "how did the lesson go," you should be able to tell them, in detail, what you did and why you did it. That's our job - to know what to do and why, and we should at least be able to articulate that much, regardless of how the student is progressing.
Posted by: Sweet06

Re: Answering when parents ask "so how did the lesson go?" - 07/29/13 11:44 PM

@kreisler. Sorry to be off topic. Your signature quote really speaks to me tho. Just wanted to say that.... Carry on haha
Posted by: rada

Re: Answering when parents ask "so how did the lesson go?" - 07/30/13 11:54 AM

I was asked that very question yesterday and without giving it a thought I immediately turned the question to the student....'how did he think the lesson went?' I realize that children can't always articulate but I thought it gave the student an opportunity for self-assessment.....at least for that particular lesson.

one small step towards progress....possibly?

rada
Posted by: Gary D.

Re: Answering when parents ask "so how did the lesson go?" - 07/30/13 04:37 PM

Originally Posted By: ezpiano.org
Originally Posted By: Gary D.
When I am working with young kids, parents never need to ask me how lessons go. They are in on the lessons, a part of everything. I teach them how to teach at home.

So there are no questions about "how is it going"...


thumb
That is what I was trying to say in Post #2115390 - 07/09/13 10:19 PM

The important part here is "Teach them (parents) how to teach at home"

Exactly. That's for the little ones. For the older ones we have to teach them how to practice in the lessons. Anything that is not understood thoroughly upon leaving will be messed up at home and will result in damage. Damage is worse than no practice at all. It is like negative practice.
Posted by: Okanagan Musician

Re: Answering when parents ask "so how did the lesson go?" - 07/31/13 08:23 PM

Some great advice so far in this thread, thanks!

While it can be tough to know what to say as sometimes nothing earth-shattering happens in a lesson (pieces are played, worked on, improved, etc.) it certainly can be a strategic time to drop a bug about something.

Most parents who ask after every lesson are the ones that monitor and follow their child's practicing the most, so it can be a real strategic place to drop a hint about practicing scales, or anything other message that you feel isn't being received by the student.
Posted by: adultpianist

Re: Answering when parents ask "so how did the lesson go?" - 08/05/13 07:46 PM

I am not a piano teacher but I would say honesty is the best policy. If the lesson went badly then say so. If it went well then also say so. After all, it is easy for a kid to lie and say oh ok but the teacher will say it like it is. After all, the parents are paying for the lessons so ought to know if they are paying for something and the child is not making progress