Posted Nov 14, 2013 by Brian Jenkins - 8 Comments

Why Every Parent Should Sit in on Music Lessons

Why Every Parent Should Sit in on Music Lessons

photo credit: woodleywonderworks

Your kids are taking music lessons, so you finally get a break for an hour right? Wrong! In my many years of teaching, I can only think of one or two parents that have actually sat in on music lessons. Usually this lasts for the first month or so, and then the parent decides everything is going well, so why not spend that time doing other things? There are a lot of reasons why you should always be there for the lesson. Here are only a few.

Helping Your Child Learn Music

Music education for your children is primarily the responsibility of their music teacher right? Wrong again! Your music teacher only has a half hour to an hour a week to teach your child. You have the rest of the week to help your kids learn music.

Music practice takes a lot of diligence, concentration, and effort. Kids between the ages of 5 and 15 just don’t understand how to effectively practice. This is where you come in. You may not know anything about music, but when you sit in on your child’s music lessons, you can at least make sure they practice what their teacher told them to practice.

You can also make sure they practice in the way your teacher asked them to practice. Practicing a musical instrument is not just about playing it, it’s about working diligently on small sections over and over until they come naturally. I’ve had parents that swear that their kids practice a half hour every day, but when they come to the lesson it’s like they haven’t touched their instrument all week. Playing through a piece from the beginning to end for a half hour is not practicing, it’s playing. If you sit in on the lesson, you will find out the correct way to practice. As your child practices, you can make sure they are doing it like their teacher instructed. Parents that are more involved with lessons have children that are more involved with music.

So I Have To Practice Everyday With My Children?

Of course! There’s a widespread belief that if you have talent you will be a great musician. If your child doesn’t have “talent”, are they destined to become an adult who can’t play but always wished they stuck with music lessons? Talent is a very small piece of the pie. All great musicians put thousands of hours of diligent work into learning their craft. You know your children better than anyone. Do you think that they can concentrate and practice effectively for their entire practice time by themselves? The answer in a great majority of cases is no. Without exception I have found that my best students are always the ones whose parents are very involved, practicing with the student every day.

Lessons are just a guide for the student, practice is where the real learning takes place. You’ve heard of the students that have been taking lessons for years and years, and still can barely read music. Maybe you were one of them. It’s not because they lack talent. It’s because there was never diligent, effective, and consistent practice. It’s your responsibility as a parent to make sure that kind of practice happens.

But My Child Won’t Pay Attention When I Sit In!

This can be a problem with a lot of students. When a student knows that their mom or dad are close by, they may get nervous or sometimes it’s just hard to pay attention. Whenever this is the case try to make sure you are out of sight, but you can still hear what’s going on in the lesson and what the teacher is covering. Sometimes teachers also feel intimidated by the parent being there. This doesn’t mean the teacher is planning on goofing off when you’re not there, it can just be difficult to teach effectively when someone is watching your every move, and critiquing either out loud or to themselves. In this case, you should also make an effort to be out of sight, but still paying close attention.

A Word of Caution

This post may cause a lot of teachers to cringe. Some teachers have a real problem with this approach, and for good reason. It may not be that the teacher feels nervous with the parent around. When parents involve themselves in music lessons by contributing, asking questions, or disciplining a child too much lessons can become extremely ineffective. All parents should be silent observers. If you have questions for the teacher, feel free to ask them after the lesson. The teacher should then be more than happy to answer any questions you may have.

So what do you think? Are you going to start participating more with your child’s music education? If you’re a teacher, are you going to ask the parents to sit in, or at least be close by during the lesson? Let us know by commenting below!