I have found that some methods are more effective than others when it comes to keeping parents up-to-date with their music students’ progress. As in, my old method didn’t work so well…but luckily, my new one does.
Old method: I sent a form home in each student’s binder outlining that day’s assignments, practice tips, and new repertoire. There was a space where daily practice could be recorded, as well as a signature line for both parent and student. While I did have a handful of families who very diligently filled this out each week, most did not.
New method: I send an email to parents (and/or students, if they are old enough to receive email) outlining that day’s assignments, practice tips, and new repertoire. While not all families record practice time in the log provided on my website, many of them respond to my emails with notes of their own, or even specific questions related to the lesson.
I wrote about my method for taking notes during lessons in a previous post, in case you’re curious. But the purpose for today’s post is to stress the importance of parents being involved in their students’ education.
Just today I received an email from a parent:
Thanks for this great information every week! I like being able to show Elly what she needs to do/remind her what she needs to work on.
If the parent values his or her child’s progress, then the child is more likely to do so, as well. My most motivated students are those who are encouraged (but not forced) to practice at home, and whose parents take the time to respond to my feedback and pass it along to their children.
When I was growing up, my mom dropped me off for my piano lesson, I was sent home with nothing but my current piece or book each week, and there was never any communication between her and my teacher. No wonder I didn’t apply myself very well back then!
I love the fact that my students’ parents call me on my cell phone to discuss practice strategies, chat with me before and after lessons, and keep in touch regularly via email and Facebook. All of the above makes me a better teacher, and my students are more successful as a result.
Hi Rachel! I teach a few piano lessons right now through TakeLessons, and each student has an “online lesson journal” where after each lesson I write what we did, what the student did great at, what needs improvement, and what his/her assignments are for next week. Once I do that, the parent gets an email that I’ve added a new entry to the journal and they can contact me via the website if they have any questions. There are (as always) a few kinks in the system, but overall I think it’s a great way to make sure parents stay involved with their student’s learning!
Very cool, Stephanie! I use Music Teacher’s Helper, which has a similar system you can use. I may try that in the future, but for now I like the fact that the parent can open up his/her email and immediately see the notes. Glad the online journal is working for you and thanks for the feedback!
Dear Rachel, you always keep me thinking! When I teach students, I usually have time after lessons that I set aside to talk to a parent or older sibling. This has been great, as parents can keep me updated on how practice is going and if the student is confused or struggling with something. Right after, I take notes in a little book I keep for each student, but I keep that for my own records. After reading this, I have realized the importance of giving the parents something to keep in case they forget. I will probably start sending emails now. Thank you for the great advice!