How parents can build and maintain a good relationship with the teacher
As a parent, it is very easy to make assumptions about what you consider to be important in teaching your child but without clarifying them with the teacher. It can help hugely to be aware of these assumptions, so you can begin effectively managing your expectations at the start of the relationship with the teacher.
Here are some questions you could ask yourself to get clarity about the role you expect to play as a parent in your child’s lessons:
Is it important that you are involved at every stage and the teacher follows your instructions? Or are you happy to hand over to them, trusting their professional judgement of what they consider is best for your child? Do you expect to sit in the lesson or not sit in the lesson?
Do you assume you will practise with your child every day or do you think the child should get on with it themselves? If the teacher wants you to practise with your child would you be able to do that? Or even without helping directly, would you be happy to support your child’s daily practice and help them carve out the time?
What do you feel about exams? Are taking exams essential to you? Do you want the teacher to go through each grade one after the other or will you let them decide what they feel is best?
Are you happy for your child to only focus on classical music? Would you prefer popular styles to be included? Is improvisation important? Are you happy for the teacher to decide along with the child?
Supporting other musical activities:
Apart from supporting their practice at home, how else can you support your child in their music education? Do you listen to classical music at home or in the car? Do you take them to concerts and ensembles they can join? And where does music sit as a priority in comparison to school subjects and other extra-curricular activities?
Do you believe that you should talk to the teacher about your child with or without the child being present?
Your child’s voice:
How much of a say do you feel your child should have in the learning process? Will you let them off, if they don’t want to practise, even if the teacher wants them to practise regularly? Will you let them give up lessons if they don’t enjoy them?
Be congruent with your partner:
It helps so much if you and your partner agree on what you want for your child’s lessons. It can be very confusing for a teacher to negotiate two different opinions instead of one. But this isn’t always so easy. You might be divorced or separated with your child going from one household to another every week or every weekend. It could be that in one household it’s easy for your child to practise and in the other it isn’t. What helps a teacher in this situation is clarity, to know what the child is dealing with. This makes it easier for them to understand the challenges and help the child build a realistic way of practising.
Clarifying and managing expectations can make a huge difference to a teacher-parent relationship and that has a positive knock-on effect on the child’s learning experience. Issues will pop up all the way through and they will need to be managed, but when you keep asking the questions, keep being aware and keep a high level of respect for the teacher, you give your relationship with them, and ultimately your child’s learning experience, the best possible chance.