In just about any book about teaching music, whether it’s violin, piano or accordion, you’re going to see the student-teacher-parent triangle. Each part of the triangle has responsibilities that will make the music learning experience successful. Some are obvious, like the student needs to practice, the teacher needs to teach, and the parent needs to bring the student to lessons on time.
One responsibility of the teacher that’s not so obvious is the connection you need to make with the parent. And this is a two way connection. It’s not just you summarizing the lesson each week. The parent needs to be able to tell you if Johnny had trouble with a certain song, or the parents didn’t know how to help him with his scales, or if he seems to really love his Mozart piece.
So how do you do this? Today I’m sharing five different ways you can make a connection and help a parent feel comfortable with you.
Five Ways to Connect to Parents of Piano Students
- Smile. I’m serious, smile! It makes a world of difference if you seem open, pleasant and welcoming when a student and parent come to their lesson.
- Ask them how they are, and listen to the answer. There’s nothing worse than feeling like someone is insincere, and that they don’t really care about you.
- Take a moment every few weeks to tell the parent what the student is doing right. We spend so much time correcting errors, sometimes we forget that students are making progress. And for some parents, they spend a lot of effort driving their children to activities, helping them practice, helping them with homework, and working for a living to support their family. It’s really wonderful to hear that, although there is still much to work on, a student has improved in some way.
- Answer emails or texts promptly. I’m not saying you answer them instantly, but at least respond on the same day, maybe before bed real quick.
- If a parent has questions or concerns, either in person or in email, take time to properly answer them. “It’ll be fine” or “Don’t worry about it” is not an answer to “Lilly can’t come to the group lesson next week, will she be behind?”
This rapport between teacher and parent is all a cycle of respect. If you respect the parent-their child, their time, and their concerns-then it’s more likely the parent will respect your time and your concerns as well.
If you want to go a step further, you can send out progress reports. They can be yearly, or once a semester. You can even send out a quick email every couple of months to summarize what you’ve been working on together, what has improved, and what your goals are for the student in the coming lessons.
There are two times I personally send out a quick note to a parent about a student’s progress. The first is when they’ve done something great, like memorized a piece, performed in public, or really made some kind of leap in their learning. The other time I’ll email a parent is if a student and/or parent is feeling frustrated. I want them to know that I’m aware of how things are going, and that I’m doing my best to get us all over the hump, so to speak.
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Also, comment below and let me know how you make sure you have a connection with your students’ parents. If you are a parent of a student, share how your piano teacher keeps you in the loop, or if you wish they were more communicative.