A classic example of a student dropout

Here is an email from a parent of a student.

I have been speaking with my children and they have both lost complete interest in playing the guitar at this point in time. Neither of them want to practice and I feel I am forcing them to attend lessons. Unfortunately I won’t be attending anymore lessons until they regain interest and are able to pay attention for the full period of a lesson. If and when they wish to start playing again i will contact you.
Thanks for your time and assistance.

Here is my advice.

Many parents (and teachers) mistake a lack of practice for a lack interest. What children want is to be able to play guitar. What they don’t want is to be taken away from the things they enjoy like TV, video games or playing with their friends. Parents will often sign up their children believing that they have no role to play. This is in fact so common that as teachers we should assume it to be the norm. We should be ready to educate parents as much if not more than their children. Our number one priority is make sure the parents understand their role from the very first lesson. Part of the reason I recommend a 5 week private introduction before joining a group is because it gives you valuable time with the parent. So here is what I suggest.

Parent/s must be at the lesson
When you initially speak to the parent on the phone explain that they need to be present at as many of the introductory lessons as possible. If they say they can’t be there because they have to run their other child off to ballet change the lesson time. Just make sure they are at the lesson.

Give an example parents can relate to
During the initial phone call explain that parents play a critical role in the success of their child on guitar. Point out that success on guitar is about building confidence early. Give an example they can relate to like learning to read or riding a bike. At first they need help but eventually they will be confident enough to do it on their own.

At the first lesson involve the parent. 
Don’t let them sit back. Ask the parent questions like “What is the best time for your child to practice?” and “Are you able to sit with her at this time?” Point out that a child’s success dramatically increases with assisted practice.

Get the parent involved
Use the lesson to show parents what they need to do at home. The parent has to basically do your role so show them how. The more you do this the less chance the students will dropout. You are now sharing the responsibility with the parent. If their children don’t practice they are much more likely to say “He wouldn’t do what I asked so what do you recommend?” opposed to “He has lost interest.” By coaching the parents you are helping them to help their children rather than just give up.

Prepare them for the worst
Prepare parents for the fact that their children are likely to not want to practice and normalise it. When parents see their children not wanting to practice they will realise you had predicted it and will then come to you for advice. I will almost always tell parents at the first lesson that 95% of children will not want to practice because it requires concentration and at first its something they are just not good at. They would rather do or play with something they have mastered. Discussing this openly will engage parents so you can then offers solutions which we can discuss in another blog.

To sum up make sure parents are involved in the whole process and if they are not and you are not sure how to get them involved please let talk to me.

David Hart


(Visited 3 times, 1 visits today)

Related Post