When it comes to music lessons parental involvement is imperative. The younger a student is, the more important parental oversight becomes. When a student is high school aged, parents may not need to be a part of every lesson, but should be aware of how lessons are going, the direction the teacher is taking the student, and if that student is practicing enough at home. However, when a student is very young (4-10 years old), parents need to be a part of each lesson and participate with them at home practicing to ensure the student is engaged and succeeding. Very young children cannot be left to practice on their own and expect to be successful music makers.
In my experience it is easy to get parents to say they are involved; however, I’ve noticed varying degrees of participation. Instead of practicing with their student, they simple remind the student to practice, but don’t pay attention to what the child is playing. Some parents might make sure the student is practicing the correct assignment but neglect to do oversee the students’ listening assignment or theory work.
It is not enough to say that you are going to be involved in your child’s musical education. Even with parents that come to every lesson and take notes, if there is no follow-through on this at home, lessons will stagnate. Below are a few examples of what following-through and committing to music lessons should look like.
- Practice at home– As mentioned above, it is not enough just to come to lessons. At home you need to be participating with your student in the practicing. This mean making sure they are working on the correct lesson assignments with the proper technique demonstrated in the lesson. Parents should also be sure that notes from the lesson are followed to completion. This means assigned listening and theory assignment are also part of the homework to be completed. Parents who sit with their children or check in and have their students “perform” what they’re working on, will see a much better return on their investment.
The older a student gets the less the parent will have to do this, but they should still be aware of what the child is working on and be sure they are completing it thoroughly. Often students can be practicing the wrong assignment or “noodling” with the instrument and getting little accomplished. Just because you hear music, doesn’t mean your student is actually practicing 😊
- Commitment – Anything in life that your child wants to accomplish takes commitment. This is something that is learned from parent to child through modeling. Once you’ve decided together to try something such as a music, art or a sport, the student needs to realize the work that is necessary.
For parents, this means showing up to the lesson every week and arriving prepared. It also means making lessons a priority. Do not schedule lessons then cancel and reschedule too often. Not only does this make lessons inconsistent and stall progress, but the student will also begin to devalue the lessons, making them think it is always something they can push off. Students that do this struggle to progress and often have retention issues.
- Performance Opportunities- Private teachers and schools will offer performance opportunities through-out the year. It is important for students to take these opportunities when offered, as often as possible. Doing this gives the student goals and something to work towards. And most importantly allows the student recognition and encouragement for a job well done.
Follow-through in anything that someone attempts is vitally important to success. Just signing up for lessons and showing up counts for a lot, but it is not everything. All of us need to take the extra steps in order to be successful in whatever we strive to do.