GCSE General

Uniting with Parents

I recently blogged about how I believe we can work more closely with parents. It is my firm belief that uniting with parents will not only help our music students, but it will strengthen all that we do in our departments. If you haven’t read my previous blog on the subject then please do

Since writing that blog I have held a meeting with my Year 10 & 11 Parents and I have seen some exciting results.

Uniting with Parents – The Meeting

I decided that the process of uniting with parents needed to start with a face to face meeting. Early on in january I called this meeting and I invited parents and students. I initially outlined why we were there, what was the point and what aims did I have:

  • I want to build stronger links between home, school, parent & student
  • I want to support parents so that they can support students
  • I want to get rid of the belief that parents who aren’t themselves musical can’t help their own son or daughter make progress.

I did stress to those in attendance that I wasn’t trying to tell them how to parent or criticise them. My language was such that I focussed on music. It seems clear to me that if you aren’t musical then you have no idea what progress looks like. Most parents won’t have played an instrument to near Grade 4 standard and will probably never have composed a piece of music using a computer.

But most parents do listen to music and all parents want their children to do well. I focussed on this, the little things that they can do to help me and help their kids.

Next Steps

Uniting with parents isn’t just about the initial meeting, but the on-going dialogue between school and home. I am not suggesting daily or even weekly updates, but just regular communication. I have subsequently emailed home explain gin what set works we are working on over the coming weeks and how it might be good if they are on in the car. I have communicated dates of performances so that parents can listen out for lots of practise at home. I believe that this is a process and I think it is definitely moving in the right direction.

Feedback

Since that initial meeting I ahem had some lovely feedback from parents. Some have said how they have started to listen to set works in the car and have them on at home. Others have emailed me saying that they have been asking their son to perform to them at home. One parent has emailed asking to hear their sons composition. It is really exciting to have this two way dialogue with parents that are keen to get involved. So it must be worthwhile and I am exiting to see it develop.

Small Steps

What I don’t want is for parents to think that they need to be mini-music teachers. That would potentially be an issue and would add to their already potentially full lives. All I want is to empower parents and unite with parents so that we are see more progress in school. The little things will go a long way, and I am seeing small steps in the right direction. Parents can help so much and I think that the parent-teacher relationship is such a powerful tool.

Handouts

I produced a handout for the meeting and I have attached that to this blog. please feel free to adapt it, change it and share it with parents. I would encourage you to have a meeting, it only needs to be 30 minutes. make sure the meeting is thought through, inspiring and all about the goal – students making progress. parents need to leave with some ideas of things to do and the support to try them out. Don’t try and teach them key terms or how to do a ii7b-V-I cadence. Just give them some ideas and encouragement.

I firmly believe that uniting with parents will see results improve and a wonderful circle of support for our students. Give it a try, use the handout, and let me know your success stories. Also let me know your thoughts in general – I am aware that it isn’t always perfect! But it is a step in the right direction for me and I will let you know how things progress.

Handout for Parent/Student Meeting

2 comments

  1. Great post. As a parent, amateur musician and even more amateur instrumental teacher I think the 30mins min practice per day is a big challenge, James. For the ‘non-driven-not-aiming-for-music-college-student’ I’d suggest instead 5 quality practice sessions per week, with the emphasis on *quality* of practice, ie after a warm up it does not necessarily even need to be 30 mins unless it’s the final few weeks ahead of exam. And band/similar practice does not count! I’m interested in others’ views on this.

    1. I think it is hard to put a time on it, but 30 minutes for gcse isn’t that long. I think practise should include scales and pieces. But also, listening to maybe a pro recording of the piece or watching it being performed. Putting aside 30 minutes or 20 minutes also helps build stamina and structure. If the student starts to get really good then they will already have the discipline. I reckon you could say 20 minutes for gcse and 40 for a level. But every student is different. Quality over quantity for sure.

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