As a piano teacher/business owner, it is imperative to have some sort of a studio policy and contract to help lay out and enforce your studio rules and practices. I have had one for years and am constantly updating it. (It definitely does evolve as you get more and more experience!)
I had a little “a-ha!” moment though at my son’s meet the teacher night at his elementary school. One of the forms they had us fill out was a little teacher-student-parent contract, outlining the responsibilities of each in helping the child make the most of the school year. It included things such as parents making sure their children get enough sleep so they are well-rested for school, students reading for 20 minutes each day, and so on. I realized that a similar contract would be so helpful for piano lessons.
Yes, a studio contract from a business standpoint is great and wonderful (we all do want to be paid and have a well-run business, after all); but how about a contract that is purely aimed to helping our students get the most out of piano lessons? This type of contract would help make the teacher stay accountable to do their best in helping each student; it would allow the parents to realize what kind of a commitment music lessons really are, and that they are needed and responsible for so much more than just paying the tuition; it would also allow students to see what being a good student entails, and it would be a great opportunity to sit down with a parent and the teacher and commit to doing their best.
I particularly think this type of contract is so needed in many studios because I have come to learn just how important parental involvement is in piano lessons. Educating parents of this fact is imperative! About a year ago I had a couple of students who were perfect reminders to me of just how important parental involvement is. Both students came to me as beginners:
Student A enjoyed piano lessons, but for whatever reason (the parents both had busy careers, that may have been a factor) she was left to practice on her own most of the time. The mom even commented to me once that she was so frustrated that Student A just would not practice on her own and wouldn’t unless mom would help. (The student was about six years old.) I wished that she would have been more supportive in her daughter’s daily practicing, because she had a strong piano background herself. Despite my efforts to make piano lessons a positive experience, Student A became disinterested and, sadly, discontinued lessons.
Student B (about the same age as Student A) did not have a piano in his home. His mom took him to his grandparents’ home every single day to practice. She sat down with him and practiced with him every day. They were always sure to read the assignment book together and practice each assignment very thoroughly and effectively. When Student B would struggle with a concept, the mom would always communicate to me what/where the problem was, and we were able to address it in the piano lesson and fix it. Student B progressed very quickly. He always had extended family around who would encourage him and listen to him play. At studio recitals he always had the most family in attendance who were all genuinely interested in and proud of his progress. Student B is still playing the piano and doing remarkably well (although sadly I am no longer his teacher!).
Parental involvement is key! We need to educate our students’ parents of this fact and encourage them to be a bigger part of their child’s musical education.
Free Printables page is a Teacher-Student-Parent piano lesson contract. My hope is that this will be a helpful thing to go over with new students to help explain expectations, and a nice catalyst for some good discussions with parents about their responsibilities in conjunction with their child's piano lessons. I have included three different versions with different clipart at the top. I hope you enjoy!