One thing I have come across quite regularly in my teaching is talking to and dealing with parents who are ‘non-musical’ as in they do not play a musical instrument and never have! If you have a parent that does not already have a bit of an understanding of music then it is important that you relate to them in a very specific way so that your pupil can be supported well at home! Here are my 4 easy steps to relate to non-musical parents!
1. Do not assume!
When teaching we can very easily begin to assume that non-musicians know and understand what we know and understand! Every single day I constantly tell students to hold their flute up, to practice every day, to clean their flute regularly etc but this is not all necessarily common knowledge. Make sure that you do explain everything and don’t just assume that everyone else knows.
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2. Don’t overcomplicate what you say
You don’t always need to use complicated language to explain everything. Rather than saying ‘embouchure’ why not say ‘mouth position’, saying this is much easier to understand and is much easier for a parent to relate to. Always give yourself a plain English check – could a 12 year old understand this? Step by Step and always clear is the best way!
3. Allow parents to ask you questions – always educate and never judge!
Allow your parents to ask questions and no matter how obvious you may think the answer is, always answer clearly and ensure that everything is understood. Remember that you are not only here to educate the children, but also to educate their parents. Remember if the parents are clear on your expectations each week then you will achieve quicker results. Quicker and more effective results definitely make for happy students, happy parents and a happy teacher!
4. Invite parents to your lessons
It can also be an excellent exercise to invite parents into your lessons to watch and understand what is going on. Sometimes just explaining a concept is not enough and it can be better to show and demonstrate. By doing this you will find that your parents end up with much more confidence in what is going on and many actually take notes to help their children to practice!
Let me know if these 4 easy steps to relate to non-musical parents have helped you in your teaching and if you have any more ideas let me know in the comments!