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The Role of Parents in their child’s Music Education

When do I begin piano lessons for my child?The ideal should be when they can hold a pencil, sit still for 10 minutes, take simple instructions, count 1 to 10, know their alphabets from A-G, basic writing skills, and be toilet trained.
Will starting earlier mean they get to finish earlier?A child’s developmental growth happens in Natural timing. There will be spurts, and there will be lull. Expose the child to basic Music Appreciation eg. play CDs in the car, take them to outdoor concerts in the park, sing out phonics, alphabets etc. Then usually when they are ready for preschool, it is also a good time to introduce piano lessons to them.
What kind of a piano teacher should I get for my child?A piano teacher who is serious about their profession would hold a minimum of grade 8 abrsm practical and theory certificate. Have undergone diploma in Piano Performance or Piano Teaching training. Some would have a Music Degree obtained from a reputable university.
Ideally, the teacher’s personality should click with the child. The teacher should play well and be able to have a good understanding of Piano Literature. Watch the teacher’s playing at the piano as their playing style will influence the playing of your child. A good teacher will put the best interest of your child’s Music Learning first. They will want your child to be happy and make progress at every lesson.
What if I have a different expectation from the piano teacher?Request for an interview prior to signing on for lessons. It is best to make known any expectations from both parties. 

For example, some parents will want their kids to ‘Just Play and Learn for fun’. (Usually, this means that parents want their kids to play but not have to practise). Or, some parents want their kids to FINISH grade 8 by primary 5.(Usually, this means that the certificate is more important than the skill). 
Some piano teachers have a studio policy that states down the teacher’s side of the expectations, eg. payment of fees, missed lessons etc. Some piano teachers will accede to the parents requests, but some won’t. 
Hence, for the happiness of both parties, and most importantly the SANITY of the child, it would be most helpful to work in a way that is of the BEST interest of the child.
So now the child is taking piano lessons, what can I as a parent do to help?As with all good parenting skills, you are your child’s biggest fan and cheerleader but they have to do the work. No parent or piano teacher can do the learning for them. 
A parent can:

  • Give emotional support
  • Remind them to practise
  • Listen to them, this includes all the wrong notes and stutterings
  • Take them to weekly piano lessons
  • Pay the bill promptly

A parent can be a hindrance when:

  • Give unrealistic goals
  • Expect distinctions at every exams
  • Let their child get away with not respecting the teacher, not doing homework, miss lessons, not practise
  • Outsource all things music to the teacher because they don’t know music
  • Micromanage 
  • Apathy

In my 25 years of piano teaching, I have worked with some of the most wonderful and supportive parents. These parents respect the teachers and their child. They have high standards, but they put the child’s psychological well being and happiness above their own. They see Music Education as important as sports and academic pursuits because they believe in a holistic development of a person. A tree takes many years to grow, but a strong and well nourished tree will grow tall and provide fruit and shade in many years to come.

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