Engaging parents in lessons with teens
Joanne C., Australia
I have a group of teenage students and although parents attend lessons, they are for the most part completely not engaged. I’m at a loss as to how I could include them in the lesson process. I can see the value of doing this in many respects; however, kids this age are also reasonably independent. This class is working through Level 6 and completing the Reading Notes program.
Rochelle G., California
I’ve started asking the parents for comments regarding what the music made them feel like, after the student plays an improvisation. Sometimes I have the parents choose mood words; for instance, “introspective” or “happy” or “sad”, and then the student has to play whatever song we pick out of the jar that way. Have everybody including parents come around the piano for a sing-along during an accompaniment portion of the class.
Robin Keehn, Washington
I’ve had a lot of teenagers and parents and here are my thoughts on this one. Because you’ve had them for a long time, you have established a relationship with them and they know what you are up to. They’ve likely heard the long-term relationship conversation many, many times. They’ve sat next to their child, coached them at home, etc. In other words a solid foundation of support has been laid.
At this point, I typically give parents permission to sit behind their child (not next to them if that is how I had it set up) and just be there. Usually they are so well trained that they listen to things I’m saying, get themselves up to the piano to see what we’re doing, comment on the playlist or any issues they see, and know how to support their child at home.
So, I’d relax about it and let that support just be there without feeling the pressure to involve them as desired…remember, it is still critical that you’re asking students how they’re feeling about piano and telling them wherever they are that it’s normal and it will change. Parents still need to hear that too, and they still need your encouragement as long as their kids are in lessons.