Creating Parent Education Course

Bethany Landby said: Mar 11, 2014
Bethany Landby
Suzuki Association Member
Lowell, MA
1 posts

A colleague and I have noticed may holes in parental understanding in our studios and have a few new students starting up so we have decided to collaborate and teach a parent ed course.

I'm just starting the process of organizing my thoughts and material. Does anyone know of a good resource that outlines or contains much of the information that needs to be covered in such a class? Any suggestions for what should be included? My list is already quite long, but it never ceases to amaze me how much there is that really needs to be shared.

Bethany Landby

Jennifer Visick said: Mar 12, 2014
Jennifer VisickForum Moderator
Suzuki Association Member
Viola, Suzuki in the Schools, Violin
998 posts

Susan Kempter has a book called "Between parent and teacher" which I find helpful in this area.

Some ideas:

  • creating a good practice space at home (what to have handy)
  • how often and how long to practice
  • how to act/take notes/help your child at the private lesson
  • how to act/take notes/help your child during group classes
  • basic note reading resources, esp. for parents who have no musical background
  • appropriate practice responsibilities for the child according to age and level; appropriate responsibilities for parent according to child's age and level
  • using technology in the lesson, group class, and during practice sessions (appropriate / helpful uses, inappropriate/not helpful usage)
  • resources / parent homework. Helpful books (like "helping parents practice", or "in the Suzuki style", etc.), albums to listen to other than official Suzuki recordings, suggested broadcast and internet radio stations, list of what to expect in different stages of a beginner's development on their instrument, subscribe to the ASJ (or hand out back issues with good parent articles), point parents to this forum, and/or to local institutes to connect with other Suzuki families, etc., etc.
Sue Hunt said: Mar 12, 2014
Sue Hunt
Suzuki Association Member
Viola, Violin
389 posts

What I love about Susan Kempter's book is that the material is divided into lessons. When it is used as a basis for a 6—10 lesson parent course, it is a lovely way of making sure that parents aren't overwhelmed by too many new ideas in one session.

I used to supplement this with handouts until I realised that these were seldom read, even when parents realised that I expected feedback at the next lesson.

Over the years, I have noticed that the most welcome time for parent education is while they are coping with the first stages of helping their children to practice. The way I do this, is through a 100 Day Practice Journal, which I send out as daily emails. Each has an idea or teaching point of the day. On the face of it, it looks like a 100 day practice challenge, but it's really parent education by stealth.

Karen said: Mar 12, 2014
Karen Huffman
Suzuki Association Member
Piano, Suzuki Early Childhood Education
Portland, OR
28 posts

Jeanne Luedke has great information in her books!! She has designed everything as a course already but you can just pick and choose from the great worksheets and handouts and general information. This is her website:

Meghan Coil said: Mar 12, 2014
Meghan Coil
Suzuki Association Member
Portland, OR
16 posts

Ed sprunger's new book is now the backbone if my parent training course: Building Violin Skills (you can buy at It addresses a great mix of the psychological and technical skills parents need. Tons of pictures. Unlike some of the older materials, its tone reassures busy overwhelmed parents that they can do this (no undertones of guilt). It feels current, and it is easy to read. Plus, the fact that it is a book rather than a ragtag collection of handouts like I used to use really legitimizes the message and the careful progression of pre-twinkle skills it describes.
The practice charts are a huge bonus. I thought my pre-twinkle process was organized before, but dividing the pre-twinkle skills into six phases keeps me way more organized. I still supplement with favorite articles but am super grateful that Ed wrote this book!

Barb said: Mar 19, 2014
Barb Ennis
Suzuki Association Member
678 posts

Ed Sprunger's new book is gold! I wish there was an equivalent for cello.

Music Teachers Helper—for individual teachers
Studio Helper—for entire music studios or schools

Barb said: May 7, 2014
Barb Ennis
Suzuki Association Member
678 posts

Free online resources—see the article here!

Music Teachers Helper—for individual teachers
Studio Helper—for entire music studios or schools

Amanda said: Aug 8, 2016
Amanda Sansonetti
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Viola
2 posts

I am trying to be more intentional about parent education as well, and another wonderful Suzuki teacher in my area suggested the idea of parent-teacher conferences at a regular basis. This gives a space for parents to ask tough questions or share struggles without their child present, as well as a chance for the teacher to adjust to what a parent may need. (I.e., parents of teenage students will likely have different questions and need different resources than a parents of a 5 year old Pre-Twinkle student.)

I’ve know that it’s possible for a teacher to put out good resources (Parents as Partners online, articles or blogs, books, etc.), but not many parents decide to use them. I think that individual meetings on an annual, semi-annual basis are helpful because it will help busy parents to take time to be intentional in thinking of ways to help their students even more, without the extra “assignment” of supplementary material (many of which are fantastic, like Ed Sprunger’s Building Violin Skills).

Good luck with Parent Education; it’s definitely worth the time and careful planning!

Robin Johnson said: Aug 12, 2016
Robin JohnsonViolin
La Crescenta, CA
14 posts

regarding parent education, janis shah, who was co-director of the southern california suzuki institute for a decade many years ago, created an amazing parent education seminar which was presented at the institute. it was such a life-changing course that the suzuki music program of los angeles (smpla) asked her to adapt it to be taught in our program, and we have done so for many years. she created a wonderful manual which goes along with nurtured by love and contains other terrific articles which she wrote. it has now become “strongly suggested” that all new families to smpla take this course, which we offer each fall.

she gave me permission to give her email address, [javascript protected email address], and you may contact her to get copies of her manual.

in addition, materials by edmund sprunger which have already been mentioned in other posts, are just terrific, especially “helping parents practice.” i have my students parents get that and read it as well.

thanks, robin johnson

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