Fretboard Warriors short guide to…
“Do you stay in the teaching room for the lesson, or do you stay outside?”
I have put together a short guide about the best thing to do when it comes to sitting in on lessons. I have 18 years of experience in watching what works best for the pupils, and it changes the older they get. The aim is to turn out young independent musicians that have opportunities and careers in music. We need artists and creatives that make our world interesting, vibrant, and an enjoyable place to live. Where would we be without music? There is no life without music!
Children are all different in the way they learn, how they concentrate, and generally how they behave in different outside environments. Some children immediately interact with their teachers, and other kids need time to “warm up” to any new person. A child may feel very comfortable alone with a new teacher but have a major lack of concentration without a parent nearby ready to help. On the other hand, 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 and stops wanting to learn a musical instrument, despite its massive benefits later in life.
What never fails is creating a positive, supportive environment at home with practice and doing what the teacher tells you. Remember, the teacher is the expert here, and the main goal is to get the pupil to play an instrument for life and not get super stressed and give up if they feel too pressured by a parent to be perfect.
Let’s look at each age group!
AGES 4-6 YEARS OLD
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, probably at least until they are about six years old.
You will benefit from learning these basics yourself to help your children at home, and yes, you will be helping them at home! It’s rare, although not impossible, to find such a driven young starter that will just get on and practice. You will need to set up a system at home for them to study.
A parent being present in the lesson for the younger ages will undoubtedly speed up the learning time. It is also important that a parent observes the dynamics between their child and the teacher. This relationship will take time to grow, develop and nurture. However, ultimately you want your child to listen and take instruction from their teacher as you want them to become independent.
AGES 7-9 YEARS OLD
At these ages, and if your child is just starting their musical journey, a parent will need to be present for several lessons until the parent and pupil understand what is required of them.
The period of time you will need to be in the room is much shorter but necessary. Your teacher will let you know when the pupil is ready for independent lessons.
If your child already has a year or more 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 your child should be in the swing of things with practice at home.
AGES 10+ YEARS OLD.
As a rule, students in this age category don’t need a parent to be present in their music lessons. They will want to start to feel more independent from you during lesson time.
The main focus will be working towards complete accountability, responsibility, and independence for practice and studying at home.
"If a child’s teacher asks you to wait outside, there is probably a good reason. If you have chosen a teacher you trust, trust them."
They are not trying to insult or push you away. Some kids just do better when mum (or dad) is not attending the lesson. This is simply a fact and has nothing to do with your parenting skills.
Support pupils at home by building a positive environment so that they build on their confidence and keep wanting to play music. Nothing is ever achieved by negative comments or ‘nagging’ a pupil to play.
Remember, it is always a very good idea to be friendly and engaged with the 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.
Takeaways for best results and independent musicians!
1. 4+ - Hands-on at home.
2. 7+ - Start to build an independent relationship with the teacher.
3. 10+ - Independent lessons.
4. All ages - Positive home environment
Lessons are all about learning, becoming an independent musician, and a possible music career. Let’s make better choices to support this to give kids the best possible start in music and grab the opportunities that are out there!
Debbie Leigh Driver
Fretboard Warriors Teaching Room Rules
· Bring something to do.
· Let your child speak for themselves.
· Do make sure pupils have a notebook.
· Let the teacher do the teaching.
· Answer for your child.
· Make comments about your child’s playing.
· Question the teacher or teaching methods.
· Talk on phones or engage in distracting activities.
· Never interrupt the lessons at all.
· Do what the teacher asks you to do at home.
* Do not film any part of the lessons without permission