Parental involvement is something I insist on for all my students regardless of age or ability. Older students in middle or high school may only need a reminder from parents to practice or for them to provide an audience during the week between lessons. Although the need for parental involvement may not be as in important with older students, I believe in 100% parental involvement for any student under the age of 10 for at least the first two years. Unfortunately, while many parents are on board initially their interest much like the student’s interest can begin to wane in the first months and year of a child’s music lessons.
This happens for many reasons the parent may not have been that involved to begin with or maybe they have a busy work/activity schedule. In many of the cases I find that parents tend to think the student is ready to be on their own which is almost always a mistake. I can tell when this happens when I start seeing parents less, the student’s ability to learn and retain knowledge drops dramatically, and the student seems less interested in lessons and in practicing.
- Learn with your child– Parental involvement to me is not coming into my studio, putting your feet up and tuning out. I need parents to understand my assignments and the importance of the process so that it can be taken home with them. A young student can listen and learn in a lesson but if what the teacher needs is not being reinforced at home the lesson is wasted.
- Stay enthusiastic and interested- Kids are great on picking up on moods and how an adult is feeling. When the parent tries to pull to let the student be on their own many times the student will interpret this as losing interest and the student soon does too. It is important to remember that one of the main reasons a child is interested in music is because of the parents.
- Learn/relearn an instrument- When a parent sits in on a lesson I suggest they take time to learn the guitar with their student. This helps parents understand what their child is going through while learning and helps them practice with their student effectively at home. In addition, this helps with continued interest in the learning process. I also suggest to parents that if they played an instrument it is helpful to take up that instrument again so they can play with their student at home.
- Set Goals and reward systems- This should already be in place be it through the teacher or institution with whom you are taking lessons, but goals and rewards should be set at home too. Set a weekly performance day for family, a goal of practice every day for a special treat and help fuel and maintain the desire for learning the instrument.
It is crucial to stay involved with your young students’ music lessons for as long as necessary. Parents should not pull away to let the student be on their own until the student begins practicing on their own, is able to practice correctly on their own, and is showing an eagerness to be on their own. Even then, the parental role it still vitally important in a child’s musical development. A parent should stay involved with lesson materials and cognizant of what the student needs to stay on the right path. In the study of music, parents, teachers and students are in partnership together to enjoy, learn and create music!
Happy Music Making!