Parents Helping Piano Lessons

Maria McDonald is a Lessons In Your Home Piano Teacher in Atlanta GA. She from time to time drops in with some advise and today she is sharing information on Parents Helping Piano Lessons. Here’s what she has to say:

helping piano lessons
Maria McDonald Piano Teacher Atlanta GA

Feedback I receive on the regular from parents is they are unable to assist in their child’s practice due to not understanding or knowing anything about music. I can completely understand the frustration, so I’ve come up with a little guide to help out even the most helpless musical case. 😉


#1 – Tenuto – A Great Music Theory App

Thankfully, every student I have is a part of an Apple household, meaning at least one person in said house has some Apple device which can download the best app ever created for music education. Tenuto ( It’s $3.99 and is the best tool not only for your student, but also the parents! It’s an app that can be customized by the teacher to fit the student’s current level and they can (and will) play it wherever their little heart desires. It has exercise games for note naming, intervals, key signatures, fretboard and keyboard identification, and even ear training. The part that’s really helpful for parents are the lessons they have written out in the clearest of forms that help them learn the basics and honestly, even more, right from the app. I have friends who teach college theory who use this app on the regular right in their classrooms and I have 4 year olds who use this by themselves without supervision. This app is really meant for all levels and all ages. If you haven’t downloaded, do it. You can thank me later.

Now for those of you reading this who say, “Sounds great! But I hate Apple with all my might! Open source all the way! What about me?” Tenuto is only available for iOS as an app and I have been told by the company there are no plans for an Android version. But all hope is not lost because they do have a website ( which is completely free. In fact, the website is where it all started. The app actually has only been around for a few years, but the website, well over a decade. It has the same exercises and same lessons. I always push for the app if there is someone with an Apple device because in this day in age, people are more likely to use an app on their phone or tablet than go to a website. The website works sufficient on Android and Windows devices including non-iOS tablets but will require an internet connection and browser while the app does not.


#2 – Be Present In Lessons

Now that your parents have learned the basics in regards to theory, it’s now time they get the basics in lessons. I say, if a child isn’t old enough to manage their homework, they aren’t old enough to manage their piano assignment. This age varies from child to child. Some kids are fine at 5. Some kids are fine at 25. Parents know their kids better than anyone. So let that be your guide. Regular communication between the teacher, parent, and student is key for success and one of the best ways to all be on the same page is to have them sit in on the lesson as a silent observer. This way they are able to see not only what you are teaching their child but how. This is especially useful to non-musician parents. These parents can learn enough through observation to help their child when you’re not able to be present. Even parents who are musicians, I still ask them to sit in on lessons on occasion. I find parents who do are much more confident in assisting in practice and even have a more positive attitude about getting their child to practice as well.


#3 – Give The Parent A Lesson Bi-Monthly or Quarterly

When I teach the littlest of children, I usually require a 45 minute lesson if there is not a parent in the house musically inclined; 15 minutes for the little one and 30 minutes for the parent. After a year, the child usually takes over 30 minutes and the parents get 15. By the end of the second year, usually the child is ready for 45 minutes. At this point in time, I do bi-monthly check-ins which are just 15-20 minute bootcamp sessions for the parent. I do this because I have yet to meet a 3 or 4 year old who can manage their practice on their own. Young kids need someone who knows the basics to guide them during practice sessions.

For students 5-6 and up, I usually recommend a 15-20 minute bootcamp lesson once every 2-3 months for parents with zero music ability. Parents are able to learn the basics so they don’t feel so inept or in the dark about what their child is learning. During these lessons, I go through my checklist to make sure they understand basic theory, hand position, new techniques the student is learning, basics of 5-finger patterns, and even play through some of the songs the student is learning while pointing out typical difficulties and how the parent can help them through it in practice. They get first hand help and are able to ask any question they like and get a full detailed answer sometimes not always possible during their child’s normal lesson time.

There are a few ways to do this. Either parents can schedule the time separate before or after their child’s lesson or what happens more regularly for me is we take it from the occasional lesson when typically parents cancel. This can be because the student is sick or having a bad day or maybe having to stay after school a little later than normal. This is an excellent way for parents to not let a lesson go to waste.

All parents I have dealt with who take advantage of this find these sessions super helpful and they feel more involved with their child’s music education. I have even been told lessons have turned into “their thing” they do together as a way to build a bond.


#4 – Stay Positive -Helping Piano Lessons

I would say this is the most important bullet point of them all. When people come in with the words “can’t, not, no, etc.” they have already built up those walls to prevent themselves from learning anything new. I always tell my students and parents, if they say they can do something, then they will be able to as long as they keep a smile. Music is easy. It may have some hurdles, but if you get it into their mind that learning an instrument is easy and fun, when the hurdles happen, they don’t put up those roadblocks and happily put forth the extra effort to overcome them. Ban negativity not only in lessons with the student, but also with the parents.

If you follow these four tips, no parent will feel left in the dark and you will be well on your way to creating a happy, positive, fun learning environment not only for the student and the parent, but also yourself.
Lessons in Your Home is designed around doing everything in your home. Our teachers will come right to your home for every lesson, plus we offer virtual music lessons, too. However, our online music lessons are being taught by local music teachers with live lessons tailored to your child! Contact us today to learn more.

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