Friday, August 30, 2013

Parent Involvement is Key


Let's Play Music has something different from any private piano lesson or even any group piano class: parents are part of the class every other week (every month in year two.)

We establish music as a venue for parents to play with, love, and bond with their child.  A child who perceives music study in this positive light flourishes!


Why? The Research

A recent thesis examined the value of parental involvement during music class. Some excellent reasons for attending music class with your child were quantified:
86% of young students benefit from parental encouragement in music-making during class. They are willing to get involved when you show them how. 

Parent involvement during music class helped students feel more competent.

Parent involvement during music class fostered a strong bond between parent and child. They began to communicate and relate to each other in a more meaningful way as a result of shared music class participation.

Parent involvement coupled with a musical home environment improved music retention, plans to pursue music, music achievement, and music aptitude. They learn more because you reinforce it!

Participation in music classes enhanced the musical home environment.

Who Can Persevere?  
An additional survey published in 1996 by Jane Davidson showed that musical achievement is closely linked to high levels of parental involvement. Davidson and her colleagues found that parental involvement is the crucial factor determining whether a child persists with music lessons or gives up.

Davidson also showed that the highest-achieving children were ones who received the most support from their parents, up to the age of eleven. 

Thereafter, children are increasingly driven by an intrinsic motivation to practice regularly by themselves. Davidson goes so far as to suggest that high levels of musical achievement are likely to be unattainable without a positive emotional atmosphere and the support of parents

The most crucial determinant is not a parent’s musical literacy, but the time commitment they are willing to make. Successful learning, after all, is a group effort involving parents, teachers and the student.

In Class

At Let's Play Music we've designed parent-day classes specifically to foster parent-child interactions and boost the benefits of your attendance. You're not just here to watch!

Wondering what you can do to get the most from time in class?


Be an example of musical enjoyment. Modeling enthusiastic participation and respect, because you're being watched and copied! Be the best student in the class and sing along.

Connect with your child.  Look into her eyes, smile, give frequent hugs, rock her on your lap. Show her that this is an event you enjoy attending.

Endorse the spirit of playfulness. Laugh at appropriate times, get a little silly, play the games and make faces during the puppet show.  Skip, dance, be silly!

Encourage listening. Train your child to listen to the teacher's instructions by refusing to repeat them to your child (otherwise you'll train her to ignore the teacher and wait for you to interpret each instruction! oops!). Turn off your phone to show that you are fully present and you expect your child to be fully present, too.  Don't chat with other parents to teach your child that she should stay focused, too.

Give encouragement. Accompanying a group of singers can be scary. When your child plays the harp, echoes Ed, or plays a piano solo, give her a big smile and hug at the end.  Use non-verbal ways to give praise and encouragement for trying new things.  Reward effort, not just results!

Enjoy being with him. Your child's first experience with music will delight him because he sees your delight in being with him.  He will sing when he sees that you enjoy singing, that you enjoy hearing him sing.  This factor will do more for motivating him to make music than all the theory he learns in class!

Parents' Commitment

Your child will rely heavily on your nurturing and shared enjoyment to motivate him to study music for several years.  Research showed that until age 11 it is parental drive that usually keeps students in music lessons.  Around then, students discover their own joy in creating music, and blossom into a lifetime love of music.

I have had a few parents say to me, "I'm not sure if I should register Billy for class.  I really understand the benefits of music, and I really want us to enjoy music, but I don't know if he is ready to commit. He's so young! How can he decide?"  

I tell this Mom I've heard enough to know that Billy is perfect for my class. 99% of the time it is the parent's excitement, attitude, and dedication that will determine Billy's success.  I don't think I ever met a 4 or 5-year-old who could comprehend the commitment of a 3-year program. They can't remember anything that lasted 3 years!


You can maximize results at home when you:

Tailor practicing to your child. We know children come with unique personalities.  In our post on Child Whispering, I share how different personalities might enjoy practicing differently. You know your child best.

Maintain the spirit of fun. We value play as part of the learning process. Provide an environment where it's okay to make mistakes and learn from them. It's okay to be imperfect and learn at your own pace. Creating music is a fun, lighthearted, and happy activity.

Do it together. Sing along with the CD and your child. Take turns playing the bells. Play a duet at the piano.  Learn along with your child as he learns new skills. He will love music because he'll know it as something that strengthens your relationship.

Maintain your commitment. If Billy sees that you've lost interest in helping him practice, turning on music, getting out puppet shows, and attending class, there's a good chance his practice habits will waver, too. Students have their own personalities and some enjoy practice more than others, but they universally need some level of support from parents.
Enjoy spending special time with your little musician, and check out other blog posts written to help you find fun ways to play and practice music.

-Gina Weibel, M.S.

Let's Play Music Teacher

2 comments:

  1. Power in a musical connection. As my 3 oldest have know graduated from Let's Play Music and now are playing difficult pieces. There is a wonderful calm that comes when they are frustrated and I sit down next to one of them--they welcome my presence for it stirs the remembrance of the times we sang and played together and then empowers them to keep trying.

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  2. Thank you for sharing that! These 3 year of classes are so brief in the long span of our childrens' musical lives. When we establish the secure, positive essence around their musical experience NOW, it sets them up to launch into a lifetime of practice and successful study. It sounds like you got it!

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