As a music teacher it is absolutely vital that you position yourself as the professional with parents from the outset. If you do not set this relationship up properly from the beginning you are potentially setting yourself up for a much more stressful time. Obviously, this is not the case for all parents but you may find yourself undermined and not as respected as you should be.
This can be particularly important if you are a younger teacher just starting out with your teaching.
Often parents don’t realise the education it takes to be a music teacher, the hours that you will have put in to be the level you are! Remember, the benefits of music education are incredible and it takes a lot of discipline to get where you are!
So, from the outset of being a music teacher, do yourself a favour and come across as a professional! Here are some of my favourite tips for setting yourself up for success right from the beginning (and if you have already started and not feeling like you are managing the situation right, you can start these now).
I think this goes without saying but I have seen it happen so often that a teacher is not organized. Showing that you are on top of everything can go a long way to winning over the parents. Make sure you inform parents of the term dates ahead of time, send over contracts with plenty of time and ensure all your resources for lessons are prepared. If possible, make sure this is also all done in writing, it doesn’t hurt to have something to refer back to if a parent disagrees with you.
Personally, I notice a huge difference if I let my organization slip. It is quite remarkable how quickly the respect from the parent disappears if I am not on top of my game.
Within this organization you should ensure these few things:
Always update parents on progress or if anything changes
Always, I repeat, always update the parents. If you regularly update parents on their child’s progress there will be no nasty surprises. Remember, parents are spending a lot of money for their child to learn music with you and they do not want to be wasting their money.
If anything changes you should also inform the parent straight away. Do they have a broken instrument? Let them know! Has their child’s practice slipped? Let them know! If you do not inform parents they may be happily thinking their child is moving towards grade 8, when in actual fact, the lack of practice means this is not happening!
If you have the parents always involved in practice and supporting their child you will of course have an easier time of it as well.
We mentioned this earlier, but being organized also involves you looking at the term ahead and ensuring that parents are informed on everything that is coming up. Making sure they know the term dates, have contracts and are aware of any concerts, masterclasses and exams ahead of time will mean parents can plan their schedules. Of course, some things may be more last minute but always inform as soon as you know!
By communicating this information early, you will ensure better results for you and students. More students will attend concerts and be ready for exams on time!
We said this before, but make sure to have everything in email or in writing so you are able to refer back to it if that becomes necessary. I have had to do this a few times myself and highly recommend!
Exam and competition entries
Make sure that you are extremely clear on what the requirements are for any exams, masterclass and competition entries. Not having a good understanding of these extra things will make you look unprofessional and will cause parents not to trust you.
Before considering and committing to any of these additional qualifications and opportunities make sure you read up on all of them so you are clear on any and all requirements.
Building trust with the parents is absolutely vital if you are to be successful.
This goes without saying, like every job, you should dress professionally. Dressing appropriately will give a good impression to your clients and ensure that the relationship is straight away off on the right foot.
Remember, you are the specialist in the subject you are teaching, not the parent. By looking professional, this will immediately come across.
You will command a lot more respect if your boundaries are clear from the outset. Make sure that you have contracts and policies handed to parents before lessons commence and that these are something you stick to. Notice how the organization theme travels right the way through…
If you have some really clear rules then make sure you state these. Only want to reply to emails during the week? Make sure parents know. Have certain conditions for catch up lessons? Let them know! If you inform parents of your boundaries at the beginning then this will mean you will have no nasty surprises later.
Deliver quality lessons
Remember, nothing makes you look more professional than delivering high quality lessons!
Parents are paying you for a service and so you should provide this service to the best of your ability.
If a parent is expecting a certain result then make sure you can show this or at least explain to the parent why this may not be possible.
You are a professional musician and deserve to be treated with respect when it comes to dealing with clients, but it is up to you to establish that relationship with your students’ parents from the outset. Of course, it is ok to make mistakes, we all drop the ball sometimes, but it is so important to have those good intentions.