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Raise your hand if you love your music teacher! They’re fun, knowledgeable, they fill your life with music, and finally, you’ve found someone who can take you past “Chopsticks”! What could be better?
So how can you make sure you’re nurturing this very special relationship? Whether your music teacher is your kids’ or your own, it takes only a few conscientious steps to show your teacher you care.
Here’s what our teachers say about what makes them feel good about working with their students and families.
Get to know them as more than just a teacher.
Chances are, your teacher has a musical career or several projects outside of teaching. She’s probably in a band, an opera company, or auditioning for musicals. Take a minute to ask what your teacher is up to– the interest won’t go unnoticed.
If it feels appropriate, you may even want to attend one of your teacher’s performances. If possible bring your kids. Imagine what a goldmine of inspiration this can be for your student!
Help them to understand how your kid is doing with lessons.
A good music teacher loves updates on his students’ progress or study, especially the specifics he doesn’t necessarily see during lessons. Even if a student is a great communicator, parents are often best qualified to deliver news about how practice is going, what songs or assignments they are enjoying or struggling with, and which elements of study are strong or weak. Keeping your teacher informed can only help clarify your teacher’s understanding of your student, leading to better learning.
“If they tell you they love or hate something, let me know,” said Piano Power teacher Leah Rockweit. “I find that often students will not tell me likes, dislikes, etc., even when I ask. So sometimes it makes things a guessing game that don’t have to be.”
Help them to make lessons work for your kid.
You probably know more about your kid than anyone, so why not offer suggestions about what might make practice more fun for them?
If your daughter is in a school production of Annie, maybe she would enjoy learning songs from the play. If your son is too shy to admit he’s a Justin Beiber fan, maybe you can drop a hint (if he’s okay with it, of course)!
“Sometimes students are shy to tell someone their favorite song, or that they composed a new piece of music,” says Piano Power teacher Andrew Doney. “A little nudge from parents can make all the difference in the world.”
“Please, please, please, if I can stress anything, tell me when your child has a show or play or anything fun and exciting going on,” Leah says. “Things going on in your child’s life affect the way I teach, what I teach, and how strict or lax I am with practice.”
Protect the lesson space and time.
In-home music lessons are a unique breed. There can be so many distractions: siblings, pets, and the proximity of devices. Even the sheer comfort of being at home may elicit some less-than-desirable behavior from your child.
Do your best to provide a quiet, undisturbed atmosphere for music lessons in the home. Your teacher will certainly appreciate your keeping the family turtle from creeping across the piano keys.
Making sure your student is ready and waiting at lesson start time is another surefire way to win your teacher’s heart.
View your relationship with your teacher as a collaboration.
Teacher Alec Watson says that the more a parent can support the work he does with a student, the better.
“The teachers are providing weekly knowledge, help, and structure, and the parents are providing day-to-day encouragement and engagement with their kids,” Alec says. “Both are important parts of forming a young musician.”
If you don’t see your music teacher, know how you can reach them otherwise.
All this advice can seem overwhelming if you’re not home during your child’s lessons. In this case, ask your teacher what their preferred communication method is and stay connected.
“I have several families where I rarely see mom and dad,” Leah said. “In this case, I am perfectly happy and open to them sending me a text every once in a while. Especially to let me know what my student has going on.”