With proper parent education, involvement and communication, we can partner with our band parents to help our students continue learning and improving while they are away from our band rooms. Following are some easy steps you can implement now to educate your parents on the importance of home practice and how they can be involved.
1. Remind Parents of the “WHY”
First of all, remind your parents of the benefits of music education such as brain growth, self esteem, listening and reading skills, improved test scores, teamwork, self discipline, and more. This may seem obvious to us, but many parents are often clueless about the benefits playing an instrument has on their child’s overall academic performance. Everyone wants their child to have better test scores, right? Reminding parents of these benefits may motivate them to be on your team if they’re not already actively involved in their child’s music education. Following are some ways you can educate your parents about the benefits of music:
- Share music advocacy articles and quotes on your band social media pages.
- Share positive quotes about work ethic, motivation, goal setting, practice and perseverance.
- Do you have any former band students that have successful careers? Share this on social media!
- Do you have students in your program that score high in their academic classes? Celebrate their success!
- Consider sending out a band newsletter and include impressive statistics in each publication. For example: “In 2019, The average SAT score of students competing in the Texas All-State Symphonic Band was 1328, which is 25% higher than the national average.” Now that’s impressive!
2. Remind Parents that the Long-Term Investment is Worth It
It is important to remember that although we directors know the importance of daily practice, many of our parents do not. A large percentage of parents do not know how to read music and have never played an instrument a day in their lives. The moment their children want to quit, these parents often agree, saying “well, they just aren’t improving” or “Johnny isn’t enjoying it anymore.” While educating parents on the long-term investment of playing an instrument won’t solve problems in all situations, it could help in some instances where parents are truly uniformed about all that is involved to learn an instrument and play it well. In other words, telling students “make sure to practice at home” just isn’t enough. Parent training is important too!
In summary, your parents should understand:
- Playing an instrument is not easy- it’s like learning a new language!
- Their child will not become accomplished overnight (or even in a few months)
- It is THEIR job to make sure their child practices daily
- They should maintain a positive and encouraging attitude – even when their child sounds terrible
- Slow and steady wins the race. Even a little practice daily will reap huge results long-term!
3. Keep Communication Clear, Brief and Specific
Parents are very busy, with many working full time and attending to multiple children. Do them a favor by emailing short, do-able tasks that parents can implement immediately at home. For a parent, less information to read means a bigger chance of the tasks getting done. Here’s an example of a weekly reminder to parents about what their beginning flute students need to practice at home for the week:
- Practice B flat scale (one octave) at 70 bpm with the metronome.
- Practice E flat scale (one octave) at 70 bpm with the metronome.
- Practice lines 100, 105 and 108 in the book with metronome set at 65 bpm.
- In concert music, practice ONLY measures 16-20. Set metronome at 50 and play 5 times in a row without mistakes. Then, repeat.
- Recite the key chant by memory once daily.
- Complete pages 15-16 in your theory book.
4. Encourage Active Parent Participation
Involve parents any time you can and let them know specific ways they can help. Their children will be more likely to practice efficiently and regularly if parents take an active interest in what their child is doing. Encourage parents to pull up a chair and listen to their child at least a couple days a week, away from electronic devices. Parents should ask questions such as what they are working on, what parts are the most challenging for them, their favorite song or scale, etc.
5. Provide Ideas for Making Practice Fun
Parents will likely be more willing to ensure their students are practicing at home if it doesn’t feel like a chore. As a director, consider making your practice assignments fun and toss your old practice records out the window. Some ideas are living room concerts, BINGO challenges, rhythm pyramids, child teaches the parent, etc. A positive parent attitude is helpful too. Students often pick up on any worry, frustration or tension a parent may be displaying. Remind parents that attitude is everything!
6. Explain What a Good Practice Session Should Look Like
Be clear on what your expectations are when it comes to home practice time. Explain to parents that their child should ideally have a designated location free from distractions and practice at the same time daily if possible. Students should have a plan ahead of time what their practice goals will be and they should have proper equipment available (music stand, chair, metronome, tuner, mirror, band notebook/music, etc.) It is also recommended that the student’s instrument should be kept in it’s case in a high traffic area of the home where it won’t be forgotten. You want your child to see their instrument every day and think “Oh, I need to practice.” It’s like the old exercise analogy, the first step to going for a walk is changing your clothes and putting on your running shoes. Having the instrument readily seen and available is like lacing up your running shoes-you are ready and up for the challenge.
7. Send Home a Parent Guide
We have put together a FREE, printable PDF that you can send home with your parents immediately. It includes a page of positive practice quotes, too! Click below!
Use a Stopwatch, Not a Timer – Practice Tips for the Modern Musician, Part 1
Airplane Mode – Practice Tips for the Modern Musician, Part 2
Famous Instrumental Artists (For Band Students)
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