Parents often ask me what role they should play in their child’s piano lessons and home practice. Generally I have found that in young students (pre year 3), the more active the role the better. Children in upper-primary school can start to manage by themselves but some parental input will be necessary. By high school most children can, and should learn with a minimum of parental supervision.
Attending Piano Lessons
For the Young Beginner (year 2 and under)
For the young beginner (year 2 and under), I encourage parents to sit in on the lessons. If the parent doesn’t play the piano, I encourage them to listen to my instruction, especially during the first lessons. Over time, parents often say to me that they can’t keep up with their child anymore, but they may continue to sit in the lessons to stay familiar with expectations of home practice. I understand that it is not always possible if there are younger siblings to be minded during the lesson, but it is good if the parent can occasionally arrange for the other children to be minded so they can come in. It also shows the child that the parent is interested in their activities.
For students in upper-primary years, I encourage parents to continue sitting in the lesson if they can. However, as they become close to high school age, children are usually able to follow instructions well and may work better independently.
High School Students
In high school, if the child is happy for the parent to continue sitting in on the lessons, then I see no reason to change the arrangement, although it very much depends on the individual. Some teenage students don’t mind either way, but I have had some who made it clear that they did not want their parents sitting in on their lessons and wanted some independence. If this is the case, a discussion may need to take place to sort it out. Fortunately in my experience the parents respected their children’s wishes and it worked out well.
For children of all ages, it’s important that parents ensure that their child has regular lessons and that they are on time for their lessons.
For inspiring piano lessons in Parramatta, call Elizabeth on 0499 500 294
Helping with Home Practice
We (teacher and parents) have two main aims:
- That our child enjoys playing music, and
- That they are progressing.
The rate of progression will vary greatly from child to child, but regular practice is essential for all students, and it must be a positive experience. Parents need to ensure that the child has a regular practice time free of distractions, and try to keep to the routine. Young children may not be able to sit still for long, so short but regular practice sessions may be necessary – just a few minutes at a time to keep it fun – until their pieces are longer and their concentration better.
Sitting with your Child while they Practice
Parents of young children are encouraged to sit with their child, as it usually helps to motivate them. Some children are happy to practice on their own from an early age, but most will need some parental supervision.
Like attending lessons, it is not so essential to sit with them as they get older, and should not be necessary by high school age, but occasionally a gentle reminder may be necessary for older students. Older students are usually motivated to practice, but time management is sometimes an issue, particularly for those who have a lot of homework and/or a busy schedule of other activities. If the child does not want to practice then I can discuss strategies to help, which will vary from child to child.
Parents’ Music Knowledge
Parents sometimes ask me if it’s necessary that they read music themselves. It’s definitely an advantage but not essential. I suggest to parents who don’t read music that they work through their child’s first book so they have some understanding of what’s involved. If the child finds a piece difficult, then the parent may be able to help them at home. If a parent or family member plays piano, duets can be really fun and can transform a simple piece of music. If the parent plays another instrument, it’s great if they can play with them, in unison (same notes) or in harmony (notes which go together well) – either way it helps to make practice fun.
When it comes to the role parents play in their child’s piano lessons and home practice, it really depends on the age of the child. Whatever age the child, the one thing that a parent can always do to be involved in a supportive way, is to champion the child’s music activities. To support their music endeavours, give them praise and encouragement, and help them gain the fluency and love for music that will carry them well past their youth to enjoy a lifetime of music is a vital role for all parents whose child is learning piano.
If you are looking for piano lessons for your child in Parramatta area, contact me on 0499 500 294