I hear a lot of horror stories about teaching piano to your own kids, and get questions all the time from parents who want to give it a go. Not being a parent myself, I can only imagine the challenges of teaching your own kids – which is why I turned to these 3 brave teachers to share their experiences with “keeping it all in the family,” piano-style.
While these teachers provide a wide range of suggestions, all of them make a point to include setting the same expectations of your own kids as you would for any other student. That seems like a great place to start for any would-be parent-teacher combo.
I hope the secrets shared here help you find that balance with being both the teacher and the parent…without losing your marbles. 😉
From Rebekah Maxner: Separate “Teacher” from “Practice Monitor”
Teaching piano lessons to your own children is one of the greatest joys – and one of the greatest challenges – for a piano teacher. The biggest thing to remember is that your relationship with your child is more important than the accuracy of their playing.
In the actual lessons, be careful of your ‘pianoside manner’. It helps to set a prime time slot between other students when your child will have energy. Don’t compare them to other students.
Have someone else to prompt and monitor weekly practice, and maybe even get out of house.
Avoid treating piano practice as a chore or even mentioning it in a list with other chores. Sometimes when your kids are tired or overwhelmed with life, it’s okay to let piano practice go for that day. Model practising and playing yourself, showing your family the joy of music.
When teaching piano to your own children, be patient. All good things take time. Don’t sweat the small stuff.
For more fantastic resources from Rebekah, visit her website.
From Jan Hess: Set Expectations
It was a joy to teach my own children piano and I believe you, too, can be successful if you keep these rules in mind:
- Give your kids a specific lesson time and stick to it. Wedge them between other students with a clear beginning and ending time.
- Keep your expectations of your own children the same as your other students: amount of practice time, keeping fingernails trimmed (!), performance opportunities and the like.
- If you have some type of group lessons or activities in the studio, be sure to plug your kids into a group too so they can enjoy the social aspect of piano lessons and the chance to share with other students.
When I was teaching piano to my own children, 2 of them each had a year of furlough from my studio for various reasons. But they always returned to me – and quite enthusiastically! I’m happy to say that all three of my children achieved a functional level of playing they’ll be able to use throughout their life.
From Melissa Quilitzsch: Be Reasonable
Teaching piano to your own children can be a positive or frustrating experience for all parties involved – it really just depends on you.
One thing that I can’t stress enough is the importance of setting reasonable expectations. Don’t expect all of your children to fall in love with the piano or be mini Beethovens.
For example, when I started teaching, my oldest child was about 3 years old. She had excellent fine motor skills for her young age, so I figured she’d be ready for a few lessons. Turns out, she wasn’t ready – not in the slightest. Instead of facing reality, we continued on for several months before finally fizzling out and waiting a few years to try again.
My middle child was a very different experience. Knowing what happened with my oldest at age 3, I didn’t even think about starting lessons with her until at least 4 years of age. Her 4th birthday came, and she was so excited because now she could finally take piano lessons from mum! She studied with me until her late teens when she needed a serious teacher to prepare her for college.
My youngest child taught me a lot about what parents go through at home. He was a chronic non-practicer. One time he even recorded himself on the digital piano “practising” so I would think he was busy, but I found him in his room playing with legos!
Out of my three kids, only one became a music major at university. However, all three of them love music – and that’s what’s most important in my book!
Find more about Melissa’s studio on her facebook page.
Have you tried teaching piano lessons to your own kids?
What was your experience like? Share the good, the bad and the ugly in the comments below so we can all learn from it. 🙂
For more resources about lesson strategies, check out the articles on Nicola’s centralised hub page devoted entirely to Planning Piano Lessons.