Lessons with Parent

Melissa said: Jan 28, 2006
 151 posts

After reading Toven’s thread. I have been thinking about an ironic situation. My teenage students.
When is it okay that a parent stops coming to the lesson? Parents sometimes ask this, and I always have said, when they are around 13 they should be able to take a lesson without the parent being there. I definately have changed my mind! I am planning on writing into my policy that parents should be at the lesson (after age 13) at least no less than 75% of the time. Maybe once a month they can run errands, etc… I notice such a difference when the parents are there, and when they are not.
Do you (teachers) require parents to attend lessons through age 18?
I am interested to know.

said: Jan 28, 2006
 26 posts

Based on my own teen experience and what I now observe, I believe it is still as important for parents to attend lessons when their children are teens as when they were younger. They still need the parent to help them develop mature decision-making regarding practice, playing/educational opportunities, and financial responsibility as it pertains to lessons & instrument care/selection/maintenance, and a sense of positive accountability as independence grows (unfortunately, even good Suzuki kids can develop rebellious attitudes during the tumultuous teen years, telling Mom the lesson went well when it hadn’t or telling Teacher she practiced every day when she hadn’t, etc.). The more parents show continued interest, the more successful the student will generally be, even if he on the surface claims to be a little bothered or embarrassed.

Connie Sunday said: Jan 30, 2006
Connie SundayViolin, Piano, Viola
670 posts

I do require parents and/or whoever supervises the home practice to attend lessons, bur some of my long term students who are teenagers come to lessons alone, with dad sleeping in the car, sometimes. I think it’s okay at this point.

I should add though that a lot of my parents are migrant farm worker families, and one or both do not speak English. So I have parents who are very dedicated to their children and make huge sacrifices to educate them, but who are TIRED. They’re just tired. And they curl up and sleep on the sofa or in their cars. I’m not going to tell them no.

My goal is to show them my respect and my love, and if dad wants to sleep, I let him sleep.

Free Handouts for Music Teachers & Students:

Melissa said: Feb 5, 2006
 151 posts

Thank you for all those that participated in this poll.
I am now thinking of music lessons like sports.
It seems to me most parents are quite involved with their children’s sports activities, even when they get to be teenagers. I think that by being there, showing involvement, showing they are still commited is a great example for children, especially in their teen years, when so many other distraction tend to get in the way of their musical studies. I do not think they need to be there at every lesson, but definately at most. I also think it is easiest to communicate teacher to parent on things that come up such as festivals, group lesssons, perfomances etc.,when you see the parent most every week.

Marnie said: May 23, 2013
Marnie ThiesViolin
Bethel, MN
20 posts

I require parents to be in the lesson room at all times for a few reasons. 1. This is consistent with the Suzuki method and students are held more accountable for their performance in what the parent(s) hear in the lesson. 2. Until a student is 18, I have this policy in place for liability reasons. 3. Students do better when parents are involved. 4. I am not there to baby sit a child; I am only a music teacher and am not willing to accept additional liability. 5. I think the student takes the lessons more seriously when a parent sits in on the lessons because of the message the parent is sending by being present. I could go on and on with my reasons but these are my reasons for my policy.

Gloria said: May 24, 2013
Suzuki Association Member
75 posts

I believe that the transition from childhood to the teenage years brings so many changes in the kids that it needs to be acknowledged also at the music studio.
Parent involvement does not imply parent presence during the lesson. Teacher and parent have the ability to communicate with each other away form the student’s ears, and this is very important, as both need to know the other “version” of whatever might be going on. The student needs to k now the communicate as well, but the time and space between teacher and student is unique.
I think it might be felt as a sign of lack of trust on the part of the adults if the teenaged student is not allowed to come alone to the lesson, if s/he wants to. They do it at school, sports practice, visits with friends… it is a very important part of growing up, and necessary as well.
Dr Suzuki said he taught music first for the love of the child, and the rest of the priorities came after that one. In case of doubt, I always check that out, am I putting my own idea of music before the child’s best interest at this very moment? There are times when this is a very valid question, and I know this from personal experience, my own, and with my two children.
Then there are the issues of the quality of the practice when the student is in charge.
Yes, the parent wants the money to be used well, and the best way is when they supervise everything, lesson, practice, note taking… when and how is the student going to learn to do those things him/herself? We are not allowing them to grow the way they need (to be functioning adults) if they do not have an opportunity to make mistakes! How else do we all learn?
That the practice suffers during that transition is probably a given. I explain this to the parents, and why they are still learning, although other less obvious things.
Do the kids take notes themselves? They need to learn do that also, under the supervision of the teacher, who should check those notes.
Then there are differences in family cultures, student temperament, etc. We can and should be an active element in the education of the parent; at least they should know that you, as a teacher, might know things very valuable for them to consider.
Some kids come to us with an ability to be in charge sooner than others, Being female or male might have something to do with it, parenting style might have a role to play, and of course other factors as well.
To avoid liability issues, make sure everybody in the studio signs a waiver at the beginning of the school year,.This is a common and recommended practice, at least in this country .
And the last reason I can think of for not having a parent in the lesson after a certain age is that you get to really be with the student; they are never themselves until they parent is gone. This is very normal. Somehow the parental presence, once they have a certain maturity, impedes them from being their best and most engaged.

Cleo Ann Brimhall said: May 24, 2013
Cleo Ann BrimhallTeacher Trainer
Suzuki Association Member
West Jordan, UT
42 posts

First and foremost the Suzuki approach includes the Suzuki triangle. It is important for the Parent to be there to observe how the teacher and student work together and to get instruction on their (the parents) homework—which includes creating the best learning environment as well as working with the child. I do, however, wean the process of working without the parent and giving the student more responsibility and accountability as they approach the teen years. While the parent needs to be the “driver” they come to the studio but make themselves “scarce” in the background.


Marnie said: May 26, 2013
Marnie ThiesViolin
Bethel, MN
20 posts

I personally won’t give a lesson unless the parent is in the lesson room. There have been far too many cases I’ve read about where a teacher is falsely accused and according to what I’ve read, legally a waiver does not address this. Unfortunately, these teachers who have been falsely accused do not get another chance at teaching. Why take the chance?

For sports practice or school activities, many times it is a group activity, not one on one like private lessons.

Barb said: May 27, 2013
Barb Ennis
Suzuki Association Member
685 posts

When volunteering with organizations dealing with children and youth, it was always emphasized that we must NEVER be alone with a child or youth. They wanted no opportunity for allegations. It seems wise to have the same policy in my studio.

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

Marnie said: May 27, 2013
Marnie ThiesViolin
Bethel, MN
20 posts

Well said, Barb.

Dayton Vesper said: Sep 25, 2013
Dayton Vesper
Suzuki Association Member
New Bern, NC
1 posts

Though I think there is an age when teenagers should not need their parents to practice with them, unfortunately we live in an age where people are falsely accused by other people of things that could ruin a career even if the false accusers eventually confess that they were lying all along, so in my studio if for no other reason than liability purposes, I require parents to be in the studio 100% of the time with children under 18. They may not need the parent there for pedagogical reasons, but if a child falsely accuses you of something and the parent is not there, then it is your word against the child’s. I may be somewhat cynical of our culture, but I’d rather be cynical than sued.

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