Music Lesson Etiquette

Etiquette refers to conduct and behavior that is proper for a given situation. Music lesson etiquette is correct behavior or conduct relating to the music lesson. Usually, proper etiquette is a show of respect for other people, their time, and their property. Let’s see how this relates to your music lessons.

Music Lesson Etiquette

Be prompt.

Be on time, even a bit early, for your child’s lesson. You are paying for a certain amount of your teacher’s time – be there so your child can get the most out of every lesson. Do not expect the teacher to teach five or ten minutes later just because you got the five or ten minutes late. Most likely the teacher has another student waiting right after your child is finished. I understand that sometimes traffic is horrible, or something happens that is completely out of your control. In that case, give your teacher a call or text and let her know the situation.

Be sure your child has all his materials with him (music and instrument).

Please have your child come prepared to his lesson. The teacher’s job is more difficult if your child shows up for lessons without his music or instrument. A good teacher will be able to adjust, but you should not put that pressure on the teacher, especially if the forgotten music is habitual. It is not fair to either the teacher or the child.

Don’t monopolize the music teacher’s time.

Sure, you want to have a conversation with the teacher, but if you talk to her for fifteen minutes, then your child only gets half a lesson. The child is cheated out of half her lesson, and the teacher will be frustrated because she is unable to accomplish her goals for the lesson time. Instead, ask her when she is available to talk, or if she has time to talk before or after the lesson. Respect the teaching time.

Don’t expect the teacher to adjust her schedule to yours.

You chose a particular time for your child’s music lesson. Don’t expect the teacher to keep rearranging his schedule to fit all your other activities. Most teachers will understand emergencies, or illness, but they are not required to change their schedule to fit around soccer practice or last-minute school projects.

Respect the teacher’s space.

Whether your music teacher teaches in a studio or in her own home, you are entering her space for a lesson. The teacher has a designated area for waiting parents and students, designated restrooms for your use. Stay in the designated areas! Respect the space – keep it clean, leave muddy shoes by the door, keep feet off the furniture. Show common courtesy!

If you must bring other children with you, keep them under control and quiet.

I understand that you may have no choice but to bring your other children to music lessons with you. Maybe they are waiting for the next lesson, maybe no one is at home to stay with them. Fine – but keep them quiet and content. Make sure they have some quiet activities to do. Keep them in the designated waiting area. If they just cannot sit still or keep relatively quiet, take them outside. Maybe there will be days when you will just have to wait in the car. Or go to the park, or the play place at McDonald’s. Your music teacher cannot concentrate on your child’s lesson when he is wondering if his studio will be in one piece when your child’s lesson is finished.

Respect others who are waiting.

Be courteous to others. If someone is waiting for their lesson, don’t expect the teacher to spend time holding a lengthy conversation with you. Make space for others to sit down while they are waiting – consolidate your other kids and all your stuff. Be kind – don’t talk disrespectfully about other students or the teacher.

Pick your student up on time after the lesson.

Your music teacher is not your babysitter. When the allotted lesson time is over, be there to pick up your child. The music teacher is not responsible for watching your child after the lesson is over – she is supposed to be concentrating on teaching her next student.

Don’t bring your student to lessons when he is obviously sick.

This should be obvious, but I will mention it anyhow. Why bring your child’s germs to infect the teacher and anyone else who is there? How does that show respect to anyone? If you know your child is not feeling well, don’t bring him to music lessons!

Pay your teacher promptly.

We addressed this in a previous post (see here: Pay Your Music Teacher!), but be prompt in your payments. Your teacher is depending on that payment to pay his bills. This is part of his income. Your prompt payments help relieve stress for the teacher. If there is an emergency or unexpected problem, talk to the teacher and see what the two of you can work out.

Music lesson etiquette just boils down to common courtesy and respect for others. Although respect and courtesy are often lacking in today’s world, let’s make an effort and show proper kindness to others in the music lesson setting.

Music teachers, what other things would you add to our list? Post your suggestions in our comments section.

How to Help your Child Practice Music

Help Child PracticeSo you got your child started on music lessons. Now he must practice. That’s right, your child’s music teacher expects your child to actually practice between lessons. And if you really want to make those lessons worthwhile, you will have to help your child with this. What does that mean? What does that look like? Keep reading for some suggestions.

Practice is NOT what is supposed to happen during a music lesson.

During your child’s music lesson, the teacher expects to hear how your child has progressed since the last lesson. Has he mastered the material that was assigned? Has she corrected the mistakes or difficulties that were discussed at the last lesson? Also, the lesson is the time to focus on new concepts, new techniques, new music. But if the student does not demonstrate mastery of the last material, how can the teacher justify presenting new material? Practice at home is what allows the student to master material already taught. No practice = no progress!

What does it mean to practice music?

I suppose a good definition of practice is the repeated performance of a new skill or technique with the goal of improvement and mastery. The goal of every practice session should be to improve or perfect at least one problem.

Ideas you can use to help your child practice

Be present, not absent

Be present at the lesson so you know what the teacher expects your child to do.

Be present at practice times to encourage your child, to be sure your child is doing what the teacher expects.

Be positive, not critical

Encourage your child while he is practicing. Tell him he is doing a good job at working through something. Tell her she is following the teacher’s instructions well. Encourage him to keep going.

Consider practice time as play, rather than work.

I know real practicing is hard work, but a young child should view practice time as fun, not a chore. Have a set time every day for practice and see if you can turn at least some of it into a game.

Give praise, not pressure

Praise your child for doing something well. Praise her for following instructions. Praise him for completing an assignment. Don’t let your child come to associate practice time as stress time or pressure time. Don’t threaten.

As a child gets older and advances with his music the demands on the parent change. You are not required to be at every practice session – he becomes more independent with his practicing. But even them some parental involvement in still important. Continue to take an interest in their music. What are they playing? How does his teacher want him to play the piece? Show interest in his work and accomplishments. Maintain good communication with the teacher – is your student meeting the teacher’s expectations?

Notes to musical moms

  • Don’t sit down and play every piece for your child before they begin to learn it! This will not help your child learn or improve his music-reading skills. And it will not help your child to think through and interpret a piece for himself.
  • Don’t over-correct. I had problems with this. Listening to my kids practice and play things incorrectly would drive me crazy! But if I told them everything they needed to fix, they would never learn to listen and find the errors themselves. What to do? Sometimes you just have to leave! Leave the room, leave the house. I have just gotten up, walked around the neighborhood until I figured they were done practicing, and then came back.
  • Play duets with your child – just for fun! Or accompany them – just for fun! That will help to teach them that music can be fun! They also will see that playing with others is truly enjoyable.

What further suggestions do you have for help with practicing? Let us know in the comment section!

Pay Your Music Teacher!

Please Pay your Music TeacherPay your music teacher! Music lessons are not cheap. There, I said it. I know that from experience. But I have also learned that, for the most part, you get what you pay for. Not always true, I know, but most of the time it is. When you want quality, it costs you. And you should want quality for the music lessons you pay for. Granted, a beginner does not need a symphony-level instructor, but you should expect quality from your child’s music teacher. And that means you pay for it. Now, I’m not going to tell you where to come up with the money to pay for your child’s lessons, but I want to help you understand what determines the price your music teacher charges, and how he/she expects to be paid.

Your Music Teacher is a Professional

First of all, understand that a qualified music teacher has put in a lot of time and effort to become qualified. The teacher probably started practicing at a very young age and put in countless hours of practice before he/she even started college! Many music teachers studied music in college – they could have been performance majors, music education majors, or pedagogy majors. They put in the time and effort to be prepared to teach your child. Your music teacher is a professional, and he deserves to be paid as a professional.

Factors that Determine the Cost of Music Lessons

What determines the cost of music lessons? First, your location plays a role in the fees a teacher charges. Teachers in urban areas often charge more than teachers in more rural areas. Competition is greater in cities, living expenses are often greater in cities, studio space rental fees are usually higher in cities. Remember, your music teacher is a small business professional. This is her job. She must pay expenses, taxes, insurance, etc. Secondly, your teacher’s education and experience help determine his/her pay scale. The greater his experience, the more he is justified in charging for lessons. Usually a music teacher will study the market, get a feel for reasonable lessons charges, and try to set a comparable rate.

Frequency of Payments

How or when does my child’s teacher expect me to pay? Good question. When I was in grade school, I remember walking to my piano teacher’s house after school, handing her a $5.00 bill, and sitting down to take my lesson. Things have changed since then! Some teachers still ask to be paid each week when a child comes to a lesson. Others request to be paid monthly (number of lessons in a month multiplied by the amount per lesson). Many other teachers operate on a term or semester basis. They will calculate how many lessons are in the given term, how much per lesson, then give you a total amount you owe for the term. They may expect you to pay for the entire term at the beginning of the term, or half at the beginning of the term and the other half at the midpoint of the term. Usually, paying your music teacher by check makes it easier for them to keep their records correct. Some will even take credit cards.

Cancellations and Missed Lessons

What about missed lessons or cancellations? Be sure to discuss this with your music teacher when you start lessons. Each teacher or studio has its own policy. Find out what it is and keep a copy of the studio policy. Some teachers will work with you to reschedule in case of sickness or emergencies. Some build an extra lesson into their studio term. Others will reschedule if the teacher misses a lesson, but not if the child skips the lesson. It is your responsibility to know the teacher’s policy. Don’t expect the music teacher to make exceptions just for you.

Pay the Music Teacher

Finally, most importantly, pay your music teacher promptly! Remember this – your child’s music teacher is teaching because she loves to teach and see children learn, but this is still her job. She has bills to pay, expenses to meet, and she is depending on your payments to meet those expenses. The teacher still must pay her bills on time whether you have made your payment or not. So, pay your child’s music teacher with a smile!