The Role of Parents

by Jenny Macmillan

Readers’ Forum EPTA Piano Journal, Spring 2002: a reply to Jane Evans in EPTA Piano Journal Autumn 2001

I have been teaching piano using the Suzuki approach for nearly ten years and have never had a problem “finding parents with sufficient time to come to the lessons and supervise the practice”. I never select parents or children. If I have a vacancy, I invite a prospective family to observe a lesson followed by an evening for the parents to discuss the Suzuki philosophy and family commitment. I have almost never had a family come to the house and not actually take it through to starting lessons. Parents see for themselves what the Suzuki approach has to offer children. My most recent observing family commented, unprompted, “But you are teaching the whole child!”. In other words, they realise that children benefit from the complete approach, not just from learning the piano. It is a whole way of life. The families who get the most work done are usually those in which both parents are working and there are several other children. They are the ones who know that they have to plan their time to use it efficiently, and focus the child’s attention in order to get the practice done. As Christine Magasiner wrote in the last issue, “there is a huge demand for Suzuki piano teachers”. Once parents know what is on offer, they are more than willing to give their time.