Redefining Expectations – Parents

Parents. Don’t you find that when a group of piano teachers come together the conversation inevitably turns to the topic of parents. What’s more it’s nearly always about the problems.


On the other hand, when we have supportive parents, the whole experience can feel so satisfying, enjoyable and rewarding.

We’ve been asking questions out on social media this week to help understand our collective experiences of parents rather better. Here’s what we’ve found.


These are the parents who have memories of his/her own piano lessons and bring assumptions from their own experience. Whilst this can be a really positive asset for some others use their ‘expert’ status to re-teach concepts in their own way. An often cited example is when a parent ‘helps’ their child by teaching them to use mnemonics to work out note names.


I think we have all experienced this type of parent. Sometimes lessons have only just got underway before the question appears ‘When will s/he be ready to take an exam?’ With this type of parent learning the piano appears to be for one reason only – the taking of exams.


There appears to be an increasing number of children whose after school schedule is jam-packed with activities. Football, judo, swimming, dance, art classes for example keep many children busy and active. Teachers report that some children arrive at lessons really tired and lacking in concentration. One teacher pointed out that for some the piano can be just ‘Another half hour’s entertainment in their busy week’.


In many families both parents work very hard so that extra-curricular lessons such as the piano can be afforded. Unfortunately, that often means that contact with the parents is often rather distant. The child is dropped off for lessons and at the end is whisked quickly away onto the next activity.


The ideal parent is genuinely interested in their child’s learning. They remind them to practise regularly and help them to protect their time and energy. This can mean saying ‘no’ to other activities sometimes. As one teacher pointed out: ‘These pupils tend to have the space and emotional capacity to accept a challenge (and make learning leaps) without fear of failure’. The ideal parent finds time to occasionally sit in on lessons, they ask questions about lessons over tea and listen to the latest piece being learnt.

If there are role models for the Ideal Parent here in the UK it surely has to be the Kanneh-Mason family. CLICK HERE to read about this truly amazing family and the sacrifices the parents made.


Ultimately as a profession we need to have clearer and more coherent messages that we give to parents. Although we can’t solve all the problems we can certainly need to redefine parental expectations.

If we don’t nobody else is going to do it for us.

At our Curious Live conference in February Dr Christopher Fisher is going to help us consider and begin to address the various issues. He will be presenting his research into this area and sharing robust strategies that can be employed to engage, educate, and encourage the parents of students.

There’s still time to join us if you want to be part of this exciting day!

CLICK HERE to book your ticket for Curious LIVE Belfast on Tuesday 20 February

CLICK HERE to book your ticket for Curious LIVE Oxford on Tuesday 24 February

This blog post was written by Dr Sally Cathcart, Co-Founder and Director of The Curious Piano Teachers.

2 thoughts on “Redefining Expectations – Parents

  1. Penny A

    That was a very interesting blog post. I am interested to see what others think. I am really sorry not to be able to attend Curious LIVE at either of the dates. My husband is retiring from music publishing around that time, and there is a lot going on. I very much hope that there will be more LIVE dates another year. I will make sure I am there!


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