Are you an excited parent of a child who is beginning private music lessons? We’re here to help you make one of the first decisions you have to make: Do you stay in the teaching room for the lesson or do you stay outside?
Children are all different in the way they learn, how they concentrate, and generally how they behave in different outside environments. Some children are immediately interactive with their teachers. Other kids need time to “warm up” to any new person. It is for this reason that some children really need to feel the safety of their parent being around while others do not. There isn’t one universal solution to helping a child feeling safe and comfortable in their first music lesson!
There is also no standard solution from an educational point of view. A child may feel very comfortable alone with a new teacher; but then have major lack of concentration without a parent nearby ready to help. On the contrary, a parent’s presence might put too much pressure on the child to perform perfectly at every task. This can make the experience so stressful that the child cannot successfully learn.
These are just a few examples of reasons why it is important to consider whether or not you will be present during your child’s music lessons. Other questions to consider include:
So should parents sit in on children’s music lessons? Let’s look at each age group!
When a little one starts private music lessons for the first time, the best scenario is when the parent is present in the teaching room for at least the first several lessons. If you are able to be consistently be available and engaged during the lessons, then try to continue to do so. Please try to not take your work with you at the same time!
Learning the basics of note reading or producing sound on any instrument is a completely new skill for which the child is not prepared for by any other classes or activities they may have previously participated in. This is all completely new and quite difficult to understand at first.
You will benefit from learning these basics yourself in order to help your children with them in between music lessons. At the younger ages, a parent being present at the lesson will undoubtedly speed up the learning time.
It is also important that a parent observe the dynamics between your child and the teacher. You know your child the best and you know how they react to a challenge, to praise, or to criticism. For a teacher, even a very experienced one, it takes some time to understand each child and select the best approach to teaching. Sometimes it would be a more playful approach that would yield the best progress and sometimes a more strict one is better. As a parent, you can assist the teacher with this initial phase.
Finally, teaching very young children to play a musical instrument is a very hard job for the teachers mentally and emotionally. You might want to be present at the lesson simply to make sure that the lessons are as productive as they need to be.
If your kids are elementary school aged, and just starting their musical journey, then we recommend attending at least the first few lessons for all the reasons listed above for the younger aged kids. The period of time when it’s helpful or even necessary for you to be there will be much shorter but it is still a very good idea at the beginning.
If your kids already have a year or two of playing a musical instrument under their belt, then this is the time when you can start trusting that the lessons will be productive and comfortable for your children without you being present in the same room. You still have the responsibility to help guide home practicing! This is not the age where children will be motivated to practice on their own. If you do not help at home, you will see a sharp decline in progress.
Most importantly at this age is to keep in touch with your music teacher. Ask questions about the week’s homework, time frame for learning the songs and exercises, overall future goals, etc. Just a few minutes after each lesson will do wonders. Be hands on – it will tremendously help both your child and the teacher to stay focused and motivated.
As a rule, students in this age category don’t need a parent to be present in their music lessons. Your children will be able to understand and learn how to read music on their own. They might want to feel more independent from you during the class time.
But wait! We still strongly recommend that you maintain good communication with the teacher. You need to know what is happening during each lesson – what songs your child is learning, what projects / performances your child is preparing for, and generally how things are going with your child’s interest in music and practicing discipline. Again, just a few moments after each lesson is perfect and essential.
Remember, it is always a very good idea to be friendly and engaged with people who work with your children. If the dynamic between the adults (parent and teacher) is less than perfect it will most likely affect the dynamics between your child and the teacher, and negatively affect your child’s experience learning a musical instrument.
The most important thing to consider when deciding if you should sit in on your child’s music lesson is what affect it will have on their learning. You know your child best! Talk to your teacher and decide together what is the best way to move forward.