Dealing with stressed out families.
I have been on the phone for a couple of days trying to get my teaching schedule confirmed. It is a crazy time of year.Everyone is busy getting ready for school and the numerous activities that their children are going to be involved in. I was just rushed off the phone by a frazzled parent who asked me before hanging up – “is this your cell phone and can I text you later?”
How frustrating. I wasn't chatting about the weather. I was letting them know about important changes to my teaching schedule and some new opportunities for their daughter. How am I supposed to communicate effectively in a text?
If there is one important lesson that I learned in the early years of teaching privately, is that open communication and good parent-teacher relationships are crucial for successful music lessons. My most cherished students – the ones that I enjoy teaching and have been my students for many years, are from families that I have come to know well. I can talk to them comfortably (eye to eye) and contact them personally without hesitation. I know they feel the same.
It seems to be getting harder to make these connections with parents – whether you are rushed off the phone or they drop off their student at your studio and choose not to come in to observe, or ask questions. Students who are not properly supported by parents do not stay in lessons for very long. So what can you do?
- Make the effort to connect – and don’t be deterred by the stressed and frazzled. That is their energy, not yours.
- Make phone calls whenever possible. Talking is always better than texting. (Even if they brush you off!) You will learn more about a family in a face to face conversation than an email or text.
- Be friendly, welcoming and enthusiastic when families arrive at your studio.
- Don’t let the student or family’s frazzled energy into your teaching studio. This is your professional space. Encourage your singers to calm down in the warm up part of your lesson.
- Encourage everyone to turn off the cell phones when they get to the lesson. (Seriously, try it. It makes a huge difference.)
- Always invite parents into the lessons especially at the beginning of the year to get everyone off to a good start.
- Make sure you know the parents names and that they know your name. (It is surprising how many parents don't know the name of their music teacher.)
- Lead by example. Show families that you are cool, calm and welcoming as well as an organized professional business person.
Wishing everyone a fantastic year of singing!