Educating the Parents

It can be discouraging to remember that music teachers need to continually justify their existence.  They are vulnerable to budget cuts where their jobs or hours are cut, and if they are lucky enough to have a dedicated music room, they know that it could be snatched away in a minute if the school’s enrollment increases. New teachers or seasoned veterans, no one is immune.  I am grateful that my own situation is secure, but the harsh reality is that music and the other arts are at the bottom of the heap when it comes to economic decisions.

Frequent, clear communication can only help.  Most parents focus on the reading and math skills of their children, and have only a fuzzy-headed idea of what goes on in the music room.  Information can be distributed through teacher websites and school newsletters, but a premium time to communicate the goals of the music program is at a performance.

The big music performance at my K/1/2 school is at the end of January.  Every 1st and 2nd grader performs on this marathon day: four 1st grades and four 2nd grades for the 8:30 AM program, and four 1st grades and three 2nd grades for the 10:30 AM program.   This is a chance for the parents to see the variety of activities and music skills for both grades.  (Kindergarten has a more informal Music Sharing Day in early March.)

I want the parents to have an aesthetic and heart-felt experience at the performance as they watch their children sing, play instruments, perform dances and recite poetry.  But I also want them to appreciate the learning that has taken place.  It would be dreary for me to interrupt the beautiful energy of the performance and talk at length about all the music skills involved, so this year I decided to create a parent letter that will accompany the printed program.  My hope is that this clearly communicates a few simple ideas, and will give parents more reasons to strongly support the music program.

I’ve attached a copy of the parent letter.  It’s in Word so it could be used as a starting place for a new letter.  This of course is only one of many possibilities for good communication.  I’d be interested to know how other teachers help to educate their parents.

~ Liz

Click below for the Parent Letter.

Parent Letter

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3 Responses

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  1. Veronica

    At my son’s chorus concert, the music teacher had the students get up (in small groups) and say a few words about what they have been learning. These kids were older than your students, and they are at an IB school (which encourages the students to speak up and be independent), but you might give it a try. The effect was charming and the kids clearly loved doing it… In general, as a parent, I do like learning about what my kids are learning at school, so I’d encourage you not to worry about boring your audience.

  2. Liz

    Veronica – nice to hear from you. I love the idea of the students explaining what they are doing. I can see very well how charming that could be!

  3. Hey, good to find soemone who agrees with me. GMTA.

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