Boy and girl playing violin and piano at home

Many parents have their children in music lessons, and none of them want their child to fail. Yet many children still end up quitting their instrument after becoming frustrated and disappointed. The good news: you truly can help your child succeed! You are uniquely qualified to improve the chances of your child sticking with music and seeing success.

Here are five reasons why you are the best person to come alongside your child on their musical journey.

Reason #1 – You know your child

No one knows your child the way you do. You know what they understand and how best to explain things. This can be a great benefit as you sit in on your child’s music lessons. When you hear the teacher say something you know went over your child’s head, you can speak up. Asking for clarity and making sure your child really understands what is being said will go a long way toward keeping frustration at bay.

Reason #2 – You have great influence on your child

Newsflash: your kids watch you. Your attitude toward music lessons can affect theirs in a profound way. If you sigh and gripe every week when it’s time to go to lessons, your child may end sharing your bad attitude. Likewise, genuine enthusiasm for music on your part will rub off on your child. Attitudes are contagious.

Reason #3 – You see your child every day

Music lessons work best when the child is diligently practicing at home and comes to lessons prepared. If the student doesn’t practice, the teacher often ends up having to stall progress or backtrack, which wastes valuable time and effort (not to mention your money!).  

Your child’s music teacher probably sees him or her only once a week. You see your child every day, and you can be a great help if you get involved in their practice. If you sit in on lessons, you can help your child remember their goals and make sure they’re using correct technique when they practice. Younger students especially benefit from a little hand-holding between lessons.

young_violinists_jh01_t460Reason #4 – You can keep an eye on progress

No one is more qualified to keep track of your child’s progress than you. If you notice progress tailing off, start sleuthing! Slowing progress can be a sign of material that’s too hard, decreased motivation, lack of practicing or even the wrong teacher.

You can look into motivational strategies and reward systems if motivation and practice hours are decreasing. If the material is too hard you should talk to the teacher. A good teacher will listen to your concerns and work with you to come up with a plan and material that’s right for your child. You’ll know it’s time to write a different name on the check if you hear, “I’m the teacher, I know what I’m doing!”. Which brings us to our last point…

Reason #5 – You can screen teachers

The right teacher is a very important variable in the success equation. Be sure to use your intuition where the teacher is concerned. If something doesn’t seem to be clicking between your child and the teacher, don’t be afraid to move on. You know your child’s learning style best and what sort of teacher they need. Sometimes you have to try a few before you find the right one!

Bonus: A popular myth debunked

Myth: You have to know how to do something in order to teach it (in other words, you must learn alongside your child or you won’t be able to help them).

Truth: While we think it’s a fabulous idea for anyone to learn music, especially parents and children together, you don’t have to learn your child’s instrument in order to help them. Just sitting in on lessons will give you everything you need to keep your child’s practicing on track and answer their questions. Case in point: my mother has patiently sat in on eight years of weekly violin lessons. She could help you hold the instrument, hold the bow, and put them together with proper technique. Yet she doesn’t play the violin herself!

Kids with involved parents are almost always more successful–just ask any music teacher. If you’re a parent with a child in music, get involved! You have more to contribute than you may realize.

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32 replies
  1. hmoulding
    hmoulding says:

    When I started learning my parents didn’t push – neither of them were the type to get pushy or ambitious about what their children did. I think I practiced and played because I was competing with my brother. ^_^

  2. Three Chord Monte
    Three Chord Monte says:

    My oldest son is now forty-one. When he was in first grade he began Suzuki Violin lessons and continued until he began the eighth grade. Besides working with him every night on his practice lesson in the early days, every Thursday during all that time the three of us would meet at his 4:30 lesson with his teacher and then go out to eat afterwards. It was perhaps our favorite activity of the week.

  3. Cooper
    Cooper says:

    My son, Cooper, has been asking for a violin for awhile now. He finally got one, from Superior Violins! He suffers from ADHD and we found that playing music is a great tool for him. He started out playing acoustic guitar, then electric, then bass guitar at school, to the stand up bass, then the big bass with a bow, and finally the violin. He is the only kid at his school to play violin. We as parents are so very proud of him! He learns at a quick pace and will take full advantage of your tutor pro and blogs. We thank you for your commitment in sharing your expertise! We are very impressed with all you do!

  4. jenjsea
    jenjsea says:

    I am a violin teacher – my parents were incredibly supportive of me throughout my studies – even though we lived in a very small town, they were diligent to seek out big town opportunities for me, driving me across three states to do so. Their willingness to be involved made all the difference for me.

  5. ltran829
    ltran829 says:

    Love this article. I’ve noticed a lot of parents, including my own, don’t realize how much they can positively influence their children, especially in instrument learning or other hobbies! Definitely an article I’ll share with others.

  6. Will
    Will says:

    I remember that as a child I sometimes did not want to practice, I wanted to play outside. My parents “made” me practice my violin for a half hour, and the saxophone for half an hour before they would let me play outside… unless I had homework.

  7. cvars
    cvars says:

    Any suggestions for keeping a 13 yr old violinist motivated? My teen has been playing for 4 1/2 years, has the intention of being a professional violinist, and due to her level of talent/skills, her teachers think it’s possible. But getting her to stop dawdling, wasting time and frequent pausing is challenging us. She’s in a competitive youth orchestra (her choice, one of the top 3 in our area- and there’s multiple good ones within an hour ), she determined the practice times (2 hrs on school nights, 3 on weekends, except for youth orchestra day— which is already 4 hours–, and whatever can be fit in on lesson day), she says frequently that it is still her intention, but we don’t see as much initiative to get started on practice, stay focused, and to work on just pieces and parts of a song instead of repeatedly working through the entire piece. Any ideas? Is it just normal teen lack of focus? Normal teen hormones and development? We already do everything above- attend lessons, take notes, found a new teacher when she and the last became out of sync (found quite a few, but the kid and the first one we tried worked out so well, that we didn’t try the rest).

    • Dianne Adkins
      Dianne Adkins says:

      There is no general answer for the problem you describe, but I do get the impression that your teen is aimless in practice. It is usually the teacher she would be accountable to, in getting the weeks goals practiced and mastered. Competitive orchestra can take a big chunk of time out of daily practice, but if that’s not the case, I would discuss with the new teacher that she needs more focused practice. As a teacher myself, I find that even mature students often don’t have a clue how to wisely spend practice time. If she is going to study violin in college, she should be diligently perfecting scales and doing a lot of drill work as warm ups. (There are books she should have for this, e.i. Sevick, Schradieck, Wohlfahrt, etc) She should have etudes and one or two performance pieces. If she has all this and is mastering things, her teacher must know it so she can provide more material or more advanced challenges. I’m also interested if this attitude change toward practice became the cause for her old teacher to suddenly become out of sync. Getting a new teacher, in that case, would not be a good idea, since any teacher is going to push for goals, and when they are not completed, require explanation. Have you tried not attending the lesson? Give your daughter the responsibility and discuss with the teacher that she is not directed much in practice. Then let them handle it. These ideas would depend on her age, but still, a teen should be able to read notes (teacher would have to write them) and organize herself in practice.

  8. Emi Smith
    Emi Smith says:

    As a student who had very active parents in my lessons, and a parent who has children interested in learning music, I loved this post. Neither of my parents know how to play the violin. But both actively sought ways to be involved in my learning. My mom even attended my private lessons occasionally to get a feel for what was going on. Now as a parent, my 4 year old son wants to learn multiple instruments. He’s started on drums because my husband plays and has a set at our house. Even though I don’t have any drumming capability, I’m actively involved in his learning, and a constant encouragement to him. <3

  9. "Papa" Robert Hill
    "Papa" Robert Hill says:

    The hardest thing I’ve got with my 10 year old daughter is keeping her motivated. I remember being “forced” to do lessons, and I rebelled and ultimately quit playing violin out of protest. I didn’t start playing again until I was in my 30s. I’m trying to keep the balance of keeping her interested without forcing her to do it.

  10. suzettesmith11
    suzettesmith11 says:

    I have a young music protege living with me. I have found that constant encouragement, positive feedback and great earplugs are essential! Thanks fro a great review.

  11. Chris Guleff
    Chris Guleff says:

    This was a good article. I do remember that when I took up the violin and later, the viola, my mother was behind me all the way. She made a point of talking with my violin teacher and always attended my orchestra concerts. She welcomed three other students into our home to practice as a string quartet prior to our competition recital. She knew how important music was to me, and the effect it had on my other studies. I’ll never forget . . .

  12. Stringsmom
    Stringsmom says:

    I have been going to my daughter’s cello lessons since she was in the 5th grade. The best thing I learned was what to look for when purchasing a new instrument. The number one thing I learned was to have them play several instruments then take the top 3 or 4 and have your child turn their back and have someone else play them. Have the child pick the one they like the sound of that way you’re not buying it based on what it looks like.

  13. Nellethiel
    Nellethiel says:

    I’ve been playing for over ten years and now just finding out from my parents how they endured during my beginning years on the violin….that’s true love lol

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