Parent at lesson? : LUSENET : Everything About Teaching and Learning the Piano : One Thread

I have a new student beginning next week and I have an idea her mother's plan is to sit here while we have our lesson. What do you think? I've told my other parents that I feel the student opens up more when the parent is not here during their lesson and they all totally understand--however, I make it clear they are welcome to occassionally sit in on a lesson or come a few minutes early when they pick the studen up to observe. This new parent is very concerned because she feels her child is SO 'sensitive', blah blah blah....I have a wonderful relationship with all my students so I am not concerned--only about the parent getting in the way! Also, it is winter and the weather is chilly so I hate to ask her to stay out in the car--my other parents tend to run to the store or get some little errand done. My studio is right in the entrance/living room of my home so I can't ask her to go to another part of the house. Any thoughts?

-- Maxine (, January 27, 2005


Is it because the student is "sensitive" or because the parent is a bit overprotective? I bet it really is the latter, and, sad to say, these days it's understandable with all the weirdos around. When I was younger, people thought nothing of leaving their children alone at the library for hours, for example, but not any more. Maybe as she gets to know you better she will be less likely to stay.

Also, it could be that the parent is just trying to save some gas/money by not doing any unnecessary driving/buying. Do you have a spare chair either in that room or on the porch where she could sit and read a book? Is there a park nearby, or can she take a quick walk around the neighborhood? (I will walk in just about any weather, unless it's a storm.)

-- GT (, January 27, 2005.

My Daughter studied under a suzuki method piano teacher. This method insists that a parent be involved and present during lessons and also encourages the parent to learn along side the child, so I do not think the request is unusual at all. The teacher had a chair very close to the piano for the parent, and the parents role was to take notes throughout the 1/2 hour session, and participate in whatever way was needed by the teacher.

My suggestion to you is, why not use the additional resource if it is available to you. Tell the parent it would be great if they stayed, and that you would like them to take study notes for the lesson, and maybe even participate as requested at certain points. My daughters teacher often had me tap out the beat, or hum a musical piece we were studying, whatever was needed. Throughout the week between lessons, I knew exactly what my daughter needed to work on and what the weeks goals were - because I wrote them down at the lesson!!

Look on the request positively, and maybe everyone, including the student will be enriched by the experience.

Regards, Dan.

-- Dan (, February 05, 2005.

unfortunately, I don't know any parents (or students) who would appreciate that sort of piano lesson. (Other than Suzuki students/parents). Most children do well with the parent not there, listening in, and I have found that most parents aren't interested in having that sort of responsibility. I do appreciate it if I can get a parent to just encourage the child to practice daily--that seems to be a chore for them.

-- Maxine (, February 05, 2005.

I've had parents stay for theis child's lesson. My piano is in the living room they sit on the couch. If the student turns around I tell them that mom/dad isn't there & continue the lesson. If it happens often then the parent usually excuses themselves. I have never refused a parent the chance to stay but if it interferes with the lesson I have let them know that I can't teach like this.I had one student who came with the baby sitter. The baby sitter would take the child's hands & place them on the piano & hold her there. After trying to be tactful I told the parents it wasn't working out & took the loss.

-- Carla (, February 06, 2005.

Maybe the parent is also trying to see how you teach, in other words, to see if they're getting their money's worth. Dan has some very good advice for you here! Most teachers would be very happy with parents who would be so interested as opposed to being the "dump and run" type.

For myself, if any teacher told me that as a parent I was essentially "not welcome" (and, in a way, you are unconsciously doing so with your small limits of "occasional sit in" and "a few minutes" before pick-up time, even though you may not see it that way), it would give me the creeps, and I'd be finding another teacher, fast. In public schools, parents are pretty much welcome to visit anytime, no prior permission needed, same with daycare and nursing homes. It would be unreasonable for that parent to visit during other students' lessons, but while their own child is being taught, they can and should be able to stay without restrictions.

Give it some time, or, refer the student to someone else, since it seems to be important to you. Again, not criticizing you personally, just that especially in this day and age, parents are hopefully more concerned about whom their children spend time with.

-- GT (, February 07, 2005.

Now I have another perspective--I feel terrible now that any parent might feel 'creepy' at my suggestion of their not being at the entire lesson! I'm an 'oldster' and sometimes forget the thinking of the world today! My only experience has been (both with my own children's piano teachers and fellow piano teachers) that the parent often times 'chimes in' and trys to help correct (or encourage), etc, which is discouraging to the child. Also, the child seems to enjoy seeing their parents excitement when they go home and show them what they learned. But, now I feel really terrible! I think I will never suggest a parent not be present at the lesson again--I'll just deal with any issue's with the parents that come up. Thanks.

-- maxine (, February 07, 2005.

Thanks for taking what I wrote the right way, and not being offended!

It's so sad that we have to read about/see on TV all the criminal types out there in teaching positions of any sort, isn't it?

I do understand what you're saying, although I can't imagine myself interrupting any teacher like that--I'd just make a written note of a concern (so I'd remember) and mention it at the end of the lesson. If it is possible, can you enclose/add on a small porch as a "waiting area", where they can look and perhaps distantly listen in, but not easily interfere?

Maybe a rule stating so in your contract, or brought up in your conversation with the parent ("Parents welcome to sit in on lesson, but please stay quietly in the background, because I have a lot to teach during each lesson, and any interruptions will put your child behind" (asute parents will also understand the unstated "and will cost you more money in the long run....)) might help.

-- GT (, February 07, 2005.

I'm glad that you didn't take the previous user's answer wrong. Every day we hear awful stuff about what happens to kids out there in the world; just this morning they're covering the murder (!) of this teenage girl in the courtyard of her apartment building the other night, and the other day they talked about a teacher who had sex with one of her junior high students. That's what haunts parents of today. We went out on our bicycles in the morning and didn't come home until lunch--and some days, if we packed a lunch, we didn't come home until dark--and no one worried about us or even thought to look for us. (We stayed in the neighborhood, no crossing the expressway, etc., of course) And we were eight years old during the summer that I remember doing this. Of course, that was (ahem) 1971 or so. Eep! I can't be that old!

One idea I have is that you could welcome the parent in and let her sit on the couch and have various magazines available, or if she is participatory, have a legal pad sitting there and say, "You could always take notes on what we were working on and the recommendations for the lesson, and then you'll know what to listen for in practice." As long as they don't interrupt (the way MY mother would do, ahem, even NOW!), it sounds like a fine arrangement. I know that people want to know what a lesson consists of, and this way the student can't tell the parent they don't have any homework or that everything's fine if it isn't. The only time I have heard of this becoming a problem has been if the parent brings siblings and does not control them and keep them from running through your house, making noise, breaking things, etc. That has to be dealt with immediately, even if it interrupts the lesson time, because you can't live with that. Plan ahead in case you will need to set limits with a clueless family someday. Otherwise, you are now setting a fine example and the parent will no longer worry!

-- Shalanna Collins (, February 11, 2005.

After teaching piano for 35 years, I'd like to answer the question concering parents attending lessons. In my studio, I insist that a parent not only comes to every lesson but they also take notes on each lesson. Lessons are expensive and time is limited. I don't spend lesson time writing out instructions or assignments. They are not allowed to answer for their child. If the child has been sick and out of school yet well enough to attend lessons, the parent is asked to call me prior to lesson time. The parent is also required to sit with the child during daily practice the first six months. I will not accept a student if the parent uses the words "try lesson", or if they are reluctant to show real interest in their childs lessons. My heart breaks for children who are so eager to learn to make music, but they have parents that show no real interest.

-- Everetta J. Boehme "Polly" (, March 03, 2005.

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