Smart Phones and Piano Lessons

If you know me, you know I go EVERYWHERE with my smart phone.  It is the only way I know what I have to do next.  I might not always use it as a phone, you know, like for answering calls… but it has my calendar, schedule, emails, maps, camera, and files.  And then I can TEXT anyone, anywhere.  I can GOOGLE any subject right away.  Oh! so much can be done with a smart phone.

I have been accused of being in the CLOUD instead of being in the moment.  I have been accused of being a workaholic (ha!) because that is what I usually do with my smart phone – however, I will not use it while I teach unless I feel it is an emergency.  Often I just leave the smart phone on my desk in the office while I teach, and the volume is always off.

So what is this post about?

It is about parents, smart phones, and piano lessons.   About half of my piano students are in group classes.  45 minutes of class and then the parents join the class for another 15 minutes with their children.  This is where I explain what is new, what is expected at home and answer any questions.  I have provided a tall stool for each parent to sit on beside their child’s piano, a pencil for notes, a neatly typed assignment page.  So many parents are grateful for my efforts to make this part of class easier.  But there are those who totally ignore me, their child and basically are just a warm body present in the room but drifting in the cloud.    Really? yes, indeed. When it is their child’s turn to play a solo piece for the class,  they are busy emailing, ‘texting’ or playing a game. One of these parents even told me that he did not understand what his daughter had to practice at home!  And guess what?  This family is no longer enrolled at my studio…

Put the phone away!

I am not a confrontational person.  I like to keep the peace and want to believe that everyone is happy and  get along with each other. I will take a parent to the side and talk about issues, but I would much rather they turn on the common sense switch and realize these 15 minutes are precious time that they are PAYING FOR!  Really and truly, it is a generation of parents who just want to pay for lessons and drop the kids off, pick them up and maybe remind them to practice during the week.  Thankfully I only have one or two parents that don’t get it, my frustration is because those are the families that need to pay attention.

You put up a sign?

I do.  In the small waiting area of my studio I’ve been known to post signs for everything for the simple reason that I hate being the bad guy, and I would rather focus on making music than rules and regulations. In the past I have posted “TURN CELL PHONES OFF”, “NO FOOD OR DRINK”, and “DON’T PLAY WITH THE NEIGHBORS TOYS.”  It has worked for me 99% of the time.

Smart Parents

I cannot forget those parents who use their smart phones wisely.  A few beginner parents videotape the 15 minutes that we are together in order to remember how to practice at home.

That is exactly the way a smart phone should be used during a piano lesson!