Home studio waiting area

said: Dec 15, 2006
 55 posts

I teach at home with the waiting area inside my studio. I figured this was a good way to provide more observation opportunities for those who are too busy. Originally I thought I would furnish my waiting/observation area with a few quiet toys for the younger children or siblings. This brought about the realization that there is no such thing as a quiet toy—there is always a way to make it noisy! My husband says I am not running a daycare therefore I should not be obligated to provide any toys because they are here for violin. I am torn about this. I have also kept on a bookshelf crayons and colouring books, however beginning in January they will no longer be available because I am tired of scrubbing crayon off my floor. The worst thing is that 95% of the kids who colour are very careful and respectful and the ones who aren’t ruin it. A table and chair would not resolve this issue because crayon gets on the floor due to misuse, not careless colouring. The parents whose children do this would not enforce sitting at the table.

What do other teachers provide besides a comfortable place to sit?

Kirsten said: Dec 15, 2006
 103 posts

Crayons and colored pencils work well here as well as toys that snap together. I also have puzzle shapes that fit together in a number of different ways (tessellating shapes.) And those little novelty puzzles that make you slide bits around inside of some kind of framework are good. Plastic shapes should be dumped out and spread around the carpet before the lesson, because when they keep dipping into the container it makes a lot of noise. A piece of carpet or thick cloth on your little table might help.

I have been using a laundry basket for years, and everything goes back into it when they leave. My students’ parents encourage the return of toys to the basket, but I would have no problem asking them myself. I don’t have anything more available to them than what fits into the laundry basket. If the siblings are slow to clean up, I even might help the kids scoop the items up and put them back into the basket as I am chatting to the parent. It takes seconds to do this.


Grace said: Dec 16, 2006
110 posts

One of my best toys is a Magnadoodle. I have one that came with extra magnet “stamps” and some plastic stencil overlays as well as the standard magnet-pen. It is a fun toy for a wide age-range of kids.

It is very quiet, no mess, I don’t have to keep re-stocking drawing supplies. Week after week, it gets played with the most out of all my toys/books/puzzles which tells me it is fun for the kids!

I have even used it for teaching. I drew a large staff on a sheet of “overhead transparency”, and it works really well for doing note-reading or theory. The students feel like they are playing with a toy when they are actually learning.

Rachel Schott said: Dec 19, 2006
Rachel SchottViolin
Harrogate, TN
127 posts

I gave up on a studio ‘quiet corner’ upon one realization: the only kid that wasn’t having fun was the one taking the lesson.

It is much easier to write in the studio policy “please no siblings” than all the other rules that would have to govern sibling behavior during and after lessons.

I understand that Suzuki lessons are inclusive, but I figure they are absorbing the music at home the other 6 days a week, and are welcome at group class and recitals. As soon as siblings are old/mature enough to read a book silently (a book they brought along themselves) during the lesson they can join us.

I felt my stress level decrease by 75% when I could actually focus on the student with all my energy instead of silently fuming over sibling behaviors (I teach from home) My families were given a month notice, and now everyone is absolutely on board…and keeping the neighborhood babysitters happy, too.

said: Dec 20, 2006
 104 posts

There are many insightful observations posted in response to Toven’s question. I think, Toven , that you need to feel confident enough to say “no” directly to the offending children if you are going to continue to allow them into your home studio. Femfiddler’s option of a “no siblings” rule may be necessary if you feel you cannot give “corrections” comfortably. I completely agree that the sibling’s corner shouldn’t be more “fun” than the pupil’s lesson.

I agree that children today generally have fewer inhibitions about touching other people’s property, and also many of them find it quite shocking when you correct them. That’s because many of their parents do not correct them—the parents negotiate, wheedle, plead and beg—but they don’t correct, and therefore the children don’t know how to react when they get a command, a “stop!” or a “no!”

If you tell a child “no” and he ignores you, and the parent doesn’t step up, then I guess you need to directly address the parent and say, “Little Sibling is in the off-limits area. Please go fetch him.” The parent must now comply. If Little Sib has fit and disrupts the lesson, I would simply stop the lesson and wait. If it continues, then you can conference with the parent and observe how much time is being wasted getting the sib under control.

It’s actually sad that so many parents just don’t know how to control their children’s unruly behavior. From what I’ve observed, many of them are embarrassed, but mostly they are clueless. Toven, if you feel up to it, you can actually give them some valuble parenting advice (especially if they are young parents, and if you’ve already gone down that road yourself).

said: Jan 27, 2007
 7 posts

My son’s previous teacher had a similar waiting area. My son enjoyed playing with the items after his lesson, and this was good motivation for him when he was younger. He also was able to hear the next student’s lesson while he played.

One day, the teacher put out a new toy. By the end of the weekend, it was clearly damaged. She taped a firm note to the toy asking the parents to “Please tell your children to act respectfully.”

As is normally the case, most children were saddened by the event.

The teacher was able to identify the offending family, and eventually told the parent that they would need to find another teacher because she couldn’t tolerate the siblings behavior.

said: Feb 8, 2007
 15 posts

The guy who owns the studio where I teach, gives food to the kids :D

He offers some snacks and candy and stuff like that…The kids are always busy eating, and their parents are always busy keeping them from playing with the food :)

Have Fun,
Mahmoud Ibrahim

said: Feb 9, 2007
 4 posts

I am a parent of 2 violin students with 4 1/2 years difference in age, now 10 and 5. I was taking the older daughter to lessons when the younger was still an infant. As the baby grew to be a toddler, I was very thankful for the toys provided in the studio where we take lessons. They kept the younger one busy so that I could pay attention to the lesson. Eventually the younger began lessons, too and was so comfortable with the teacher and the lesson routine because she had been to lessons everyweek with her sister and it was pleasant for her. The toys are still there, and when she is finished with her lesson (sometimes dictated by time, sometimes by her attention span) she is free to explore the toys. Sometimes she does. Sometimes she doesn’t. All in all, I think it makes for a more open, relaxed environment for families.

As for noise, sometimes there is noise. It is for the parents to contain (or teacher if they do not), but I think the toys have contributed to an atmosphere that has been a very good attribute to our lessons. As well, my children have learned to concentrate with a bit of background noise. It is a normal occurance in our lives.

said: Feb 16, 2007
 55 posts

Thanks for such wonderful feedback about my waiting area. When I wrote my original post I was extremely frustrated with one or two families in particular. One family has three children, the oldest of whom is four, and the one taking lessons with me. The middle child is a very strong-willed girl who is not afraid to say “NO!” (yes she’s 2), and then there is the baby. Mom was able to find a sitter for a short time, but then the sitter’s work schedule changed and she was back to bringing all children to the lesson. One week she actually broke down and cried on my shoulder in frustration. From conversations we have had, I believe she does not get much help with anything from her husband, who is a very nice man but seems to have different views about a woman’s role at home. I shared some stories about my own strong-willed daughter and we talked about choosing battles and other parenting issues. I also told her that I would rather she leave the lesson to deal with her two-year-old’s behaviour than to give in to keep her happy during the lesson. This seemed to help, knowing she had permission to discipline while she was here. I drew the line at the two-year-old’s behaviour when the four-year-old got her real violin and the little sister ran into the studio swinging it around full force. The girl would not give up the instrument regardless of what I said or how her mom “negotiated” and I literally pried her fingers off the handle of the case. I told the mom point blank that this was a battle worth fighting and if I saw that again I would not hesitate to take it away from the girl myself again. Since I have been very frank with this mom, behaviour in general has been much better. It seems like such a simple solution but it took me a long time to get up the nerve to really be honest with her because I felt like I would be telling her she was a bad parent.
Since January, I have also suggested that families bring their own quiet, non-distracting toys from home and I have completely banned food. The colouring books and crayons are put away and children must ask for them. Even the unruly two-year-old has been more respectful with the crayons since then. I used to have a magna-doodle but kids would scribble on it which makes a very loud, disruptive noise, so I put it away. Perhaps I will re-introduce this item again the same way I do the colouring books and crayons.

said: Feb 17, 2007
 104 posts


Your further explanation on this issue really brought back some memories for me as a parent. I once had a 4-year-old, a 2-year-old and a new baby, and let me admit, that looking back on it, I don’t think I mustered up all the discipline that I can now. That’s a very exhausting situation—many of my memories from that time are simply a blur—no sleep, hardly any time to eat or shower, and I also was taking my oldest one to violin lessons with a 2-year-old and an infant in tow. It wasn’t easy. Just getting them all in the car!!! I’m not surprised that mother broke down and cried on your shoulder. I think you did the right thing in helping her—that’s probably what she needs right now more than anything else. Which just goes to show you, that a music teacher is often much more than a music teacher!

Mia said: Feb 19, 2007
Mia HagartyViolin
7 posts

Thank you all so much for talking about your home studios. I have only ever taught and taken lessons in a school or conservatory situation and didn’t know what it was like. Looking ahead into my future, I am seeing that I might have to start my own home studio and it’s so nice to see that it can be done well.

So, question…

Do you teach in a room with a door (like a converted bedroom), or is it in an open space in your home (like a living room/dining room)?


Barb said: Apr 9, 2011
Barb Ennis
Suzuki Association Member
685 posts

This is a very old thread which I found doing a search. I wanted to bring it back up for today’s readers/posters.

My studio policy, because I teach in my living room, has been that I cannot accommodate mobile babies or toddlers. (Older siblings are welcome as long as they can sit quietly with a book or drawing activity.) I set that policy down before I even had any students with young siblings as I have a good imagination and have been around a lot of young families with poorly behaved, undisciplined children. I don’t have room for a corner dedicated to children, either.

Nonetheless, one parent has brought a toddler along the odd time. They stayed by the door away from our nicer furniture, and weren’t terribly noisy, but the parent had to remind the child not to wander through the house a few times and I later found fruit leather in a shoe by the front door! :) But my policy means that this parent cannot attend lessons very often, and I would like to change that.

Starting next year I will be adopting the Suzuki approach to lessons and expect a parent’s attendance at least for those under the age of 12. I will probably not require it for current parents, but highly encourage it, since this was not an expectation when their children began lessons.

So, as most of you are true Suzuki teachers or families and parents are attending lessons, are you in a siblings allowed or no siblings allowed situation? How does that work?

Thanks for your comments.

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

Diane said: Apr 15, 2011
Diane AllenViolin
244 posts

Siblings? Absolutely!

I do not provide anything for siblings to play with. I figure it’s the parent’s job to do that. It’s also the parent’s job to keep things under control. Occasionally I have to lay a ground rule here or there—but I enjoy that process as well. Kids need to know their boundaries and I’m always happy to let kids know what they are.

Some parents have bought the foam-a-lin (foam violin) so the younger one can engage in their own way.

I just love hearing a sibling humm the Suzuki repertoire!

Videos of student violin recitals and violin tutorials.

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