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#945961 - 12/11/04 09:54 PM Allow parents to always sit in?
rintincop Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/11/04
Posts: 1810
Do you let parents sit and watch every lesson when teaching their kids or just at the first lesson? The music school I teach at does have a comfortable waiting room.
New Casio PX-360 digital piano, 1966 Mason & Hamlin piano.

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#945962 - 12/12/04 05:44 AM Re: Allow parents to always sit in?
cranky woman Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/06/04
Posts: 282
Loc: Phoenix, AZ
I love to have the parents sit in on lessons. This way, they know what I expect and usually the child does better.

On the other hand, I have had a couple of students where the parents have been especially overbearing and didn't allow the child to speak for themselves. In these cases, I ask the parents to wait elsewhere. Some students really need to have a one on one relationship with the teacher without parent interference.

But, most of the parents who want to sit in are wonderful. I also hold interviews with students before taking on a new student to determine how involved the parents will be. If the parent seems difficult, I just don't take the student, no matter how good the child is......I'd rather have nice parents \:D

cranky \:D

#945963 - 12/12/04 06:22 AM Re: Allow parents to always sit in?
anacrusis Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/11/04
Posts: 64
Loc: Connecticut
My children take piano lessons at a private, home studio. The teacher is Russian and parents are usually in the room when the child is having the lesson, although I notice that some parents never stay. In general, the teacher seems to like the parents to sit beside her at the piano and take notes. Being a musician myself, I do not take notes but just listen to her commentary and remember what she says. This studio operates on a pretty high, intense level. Even the tiniest kids sound great, so maybe it is not typical.
As far as obnoxious parents, I think that the teacher should call up the parent (don't confront in front of the student) and just nicely ask the parent not to interject during the lesson. You should say that the teacher-student dynamic is very important and it is imperative to hear from the student herself, not the parent. Say that having the parent speak for the student undermines the relationship with the student and puts the student at a disadvantage with all the other students of that age in the studio, that should get the parent!
Good luck!

#945964 - 12/12/04 08:34 PM Re: Allow parents to always sit in?
Candywoman Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/14/03
Posts: 1046
I'm just the opposite of the first replier. I much prefer no parent present. They are welcome to attend the odd lesson or sit in if it's really cold outside. I have no waiting room. For me, I have no fun at all if I have to "perform" my teaching, and I can't really get to know the student if the parent is there. If a child didn' t like a piece or an instruction, they wouldn't feel comfortable beefing in front of their parents. Besides, the students have to take responsibility for their practicing. If somebody has to explain my instructions, I'm not much of a teacher.

#945965 - 12/13/04 08:54 AM Re: Allow parents to always sit in?
Quidam Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/08/04
Posts: 866
Loc: USA
when I was younger my mom would sit in on my lessons occasionally, but it was sort of distracting. She just sat in the back and read, but you can always just kind of sense it when someone is in the room listening. It does make it feel rather like performing. I'm not a teacher, so I don't know what that perspective would be, but as a student I preferred not having my parents there. But each student, teacher, and parent is different, so what doesn't work for one might be just dandy for another.
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#945966 - 12/14/04 06:25 PM Re: Allow parents to always sit in?
Matthew_dup1 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/21/03
Posts: 60
Loc: Australia
As a Suzuki parent, where sitting in is the rule, I see great merits in this.
(1) As long as the ground rules are clear - no interjecting etc - the parent can take notes, which later, they (I) use to refresh the student's memory.
(2) In a 45 minute session there is a lot to take in - the student can easily forget key points (or matters of phrasing or just good tips) that the parent/notetaker can jot down.
(3) This has worked well for us and for other parents I know.
(4) I would argue parents are responsible for 50% of the (young) student's progress (or lack thereof) so to have them as informed as possible would seem to be essential.

#945967 - 12/14/04 07:06 PM Re: Allow parents to always sit in?
divadeb Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/16/04
Posts: 677
Some parents make their kids nervous. I like to think I'm good at getting my students to relax. They progress a lot more rapidly when they are comfy in their lessons. I have always approached it this way and never had a problem...first lessons, parents are not only invited, they're required. I have a contract that new students/parents must sign. We meet together, at no charge, and visit...so the student and their parent(s) and I can ascertain if we're a good "match". No obligation on the part of either party to go through with the relationship at that point. If it's a go from both sides, we sign an agreement about pricing, notification of illness or rescheduling of lessons. It's more of an effort to let them know they are embarking on something they need to take seriously than an anything I've ever had to enforce. I give them a list of what they need to bring with them, phone numbers, music store addresses etc and set up a lesson time.

After that, if the parent chooses to attend the lessons and I sense that the kid is bottling up because of them, I ask the child, in front of Mom or Dad, would it be easier for you if Mom was in the other room? At that point, the kid will usually be honest and I've never had a parent who couldn't handle the truth. I have space for them to sit, stuff to read, a table to work on...they're usually quite happy to be a room away if it helps their child to relax.
Never try to teach a pig to sing. It wastes your time and annoys the pig.


#945968 - 12/15/04 10:13 AM Re: Allow parents to always sit in?
cranky woman Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/06/04
Posts: 282
Loc: Phoenix, AZ

We must be twins!! That's exactly how I begin new students and parents. It sure makes life easier on my part. I actually require parents to sit in on the first 3 months. Usually they continue to do so after the 3 months is up.

#945969 - 12/15/04 10:33 AM Re: Allow parents to always sit in?
Varcon Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/15/04
Posts: 1931
Loc: Mount Vernon, Georgia 30445
There are varying situations. I had a very talented student whose father was a Marine DI. When he sat in on the lesson, any correction I gave caused him to jump on the student immediately. He wasn't there all the time and I had difficulty getting him to restrain himself. Most of the time the parents dropped the students off and came back for them. If there was an issue we discussed it before or after the lesson.

Now I have some students and the parent sits in but they do not interfere at all. One takes notes to remind the 16 yo what was said at the lesson if there's a question. The other mother brings reading material or sleeps!! Quite often she is zonked out on the couch so there is definitely no interference from her.

Again--it can be helpful or terribly distracting.

#945970 - 12/15/04 06:48 PM Re: Allow parents to always sit in?
pianocamel Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 10/27/04
Posts: 11
Loc: Lillington, North Carolina
I really like some of the ideas I've been reading. I'll offer my two cents about how I do things since the more the merrier.

I usually encourage the parents of my younger students (ages 5-7) to sit in, especially if the student seems to need more help practicing during the week. I do have an advantage for my other students, however. My waiting room is right outside my studio, and often, if there are no distractions (such as siblings!) I will leave the door open. This way, the parents can listen in, and often do to some extent, and offer input if necessary.

All of the parents that I have had sit in have been wonderful, and I hope they continue to be!

#945971 - 01/07/05 09:40 AM Re: Allow parents to always sit in?
neciebugs Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/30/04
Posts: 776
Loc: Chula Vista
I just want to add my 2 pennies... and story... probably not typical

I started to teach my daughter, and she showed apptitude and interest... So, I took her to a studio when it got to a "mom as teacher" issue... They paired her with a Russian Teacher... who only accepts the kids that show promise... because she really works them. My daughter was 7 at the time.

First lesson i sat in... My daughter was nervous because of her accent... seemed to go ok, for the first half... but it got crazy the second half.

Second lesson, was problematic, so I asked if i could sit in the lobby. She cried a bit... still uncomfortable with the teacher, but I could tell she was a wonderful teacher

3rd lesson, my dughter came out crying after 10 minutes... the teacher said... I can not teach her today. My daughter still wont tell me what happened... i think it was the tapping on her wrist i observed the first 2 lessons

4th lesson...husband went
5th lesson...husband went... and was told very strictly... DO NOT ALLOW YOUR WIFE to teach her anything. She is to practice the way I set out and thats that, otherwise i will NOT teach her.

OK... I understand this, and would be very happy to abide by it... but my daughter would ask for help and I would show her. At her early stages in the Primer, she was reading ok... but her actual execution was less than perfect.

At that point my daughter lost her enjoyment... and at 7... I am sorry a child shouldnt be pushed as hard as this teacher was pushing... and Yes at first I was flattered because she told my my daughter was doing quite well for the ammount of lessons she had. I knew she had it... and with the right guidence she could do well if she wanted to.

Well she doesnt want to anymore... although she has (now 9) pulled out the primer and book one (John Thompson) and played a little. At least she has the fundamentals. She says she wants to play clairinet... which is fine by me... she just has to grow a bit more.

Personally... I encourage a parent to observe. However some kids just dont do well with a parent in the room. I have taught a girl my daughters age with no problems. Of course I am NOT a professional... but I am working on Music Education (BM)... A also thing when a child is introduced to music, it should be fun... not incessant tapping on wrists... banging on the piano (to keep time) I talked to my daughter a few months later... when she would finally open up... She was afraid of the teacher... Had she told me from the start... rather than holding it in... I am sure it would have been a totally different experience.
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#945972 - 02/10/05 04:48 PM Re: Allow parents to always sit in?
hilaryemma Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 07/23/04
Posts: 11
Loc: Colorado
This post is really interesting. I personally agree with Candyman. I remember when my parents would sit in on my lessons I used to get nervous. For me, that time was between me and my teacher. As I got older, and particularly as I got more advanced, my teacher had me make my own notes. Of course I don't remember what it was like when I was younger but I used to have an orange book that my teacher jotted down what I was to concentrate on in that particular week.

Just personal opinion, I guess.


#945973 - 02/15/05 01:55 PM Re: Allow parents to always sit in?
princessclara2005 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/02/05
Posts: 429
Loc: Dallas, Texas
I agree with Candyman, I am not comfortable if I have to put on a show during a lesson, I also think that students don't function very well when someone is there beside themselves and the teacher, becasue they feel that have to put on a show as well.

a 5 minutes summary after each lesson will be a recap. for the students, and informative for the parents, and more importantly, the student is responsible for what they learn, and what need to be done and it's the best for them to remember, even though it maybe wrong, or be forgotten.

afterall, learning is a private thing, there is a norm to follow, but you have to juggle it yourself, joy or pain.

#945974 - 02/15/05 03:37 PM Re: Allow parents to always sit in?
ishldbpracticing88 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/21/05
Posts: 103
Loc: SC
I normally require the parents to sit in until about age 8. I think really young children need more guidance - not just from a teacher. And the best way for the parent to give this guidance is by sitting in on the lesson and soaking all of it in. Of course, the parent needs to be very laid back during the lessons.
I don't like my parents sitting in my lessons now, but when I started violin (I was 7), my mom sat in on every lesson (and my brother and sister's) and practiced with us everyday for at least a year.
"The aim and the final reason of all music should be nothing else but the glory of God and the refreshment of the human spirit."
-Johann Sebastian Bach

P.S. Rach rocks


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