The Millenium Parent poses new and challenging issues for today’s music studio teacher. Are they engaged with their children? Definately. Stretched too thin with too many activities? Absolutely. When it comes to organizational skills such as tracking recitals, festival dates, and (very important!) my studio calendar of lessons, it’s a mixed bag in my studio. I have parents that never miss a beat. They calendar all items I put forth stretching back from the previous summer (when I first announce the dates). They never are confused and since they stay up on things, they always show up at the correct venue for each activity. Mind you I repeat those dates every time I send out a new newsletter-repetition is the best educator.
This is not always the case! When we entered the digital age I thought the days of printing off newletters and every update were over. Clearly, I was wrong. In spite of my blast emails and efforts to keep everyone in the loop, parents often show up asking questions that I have already answered in an email newsletter. I pull out the newsletter and show them. They always claim they didn’t get it. On ocassion I have caught a parent scrolling down their emails only to find the very communication on their phone (not that they admit it to me). How many times has someone knocked on my door on Jan. 2nd or Dec. 28th or walked into my studio only to find out we are CLOSED until a specific date in January. Argh!
This year I decided to continue my usual email blasts but with the following changes: I make several copies that I think I may need. After the email has been sent I make a point to catch my most often offending parents with a copy of the email in hand. I ask them if they have seen it and I offer a hard copy. So far, this seems to work better this year. There are far fewer incidences of missed communication. Also, every recital while I have everyone there I make quick announcements at the end of the program. Usually it’s reminding them that yes we still have class this week, or when the next studio break is scheduled.
I believe parents (as we all do) scroll quickly through the emails and likely just skip over them thinking they will read later. The email gets lost in the weeds within a few days and they forget all about it. Another issue is READING. I have found that parents do not necessarily read to the bottom of the email. I point out my clear subdivisions on the page for each item I cover with the dates or times/venues in bold print. I hope it will catch their eye. Then there’s the lazy parent that would rather just saunder into the studio and ask instead of follow the newletter. Sigh…..It’s part of what we do anymore. Without being a snoot I try to point out that “it’s right here on the newsletter.” I also have found that sending a reminder email a few days before an event is helpful. “Please remember that festivals REQUIRE that the student bring their music. NO XEROX COPIES ARE PERMITTED”–just in case they were thinking of bring a single sheet.
So far, my studio is flowing better with fewer mixed up parents. Alas the digital age is doing all of us in. Too much information on the highway makes for a lack of reading and comprehension in general. It never occured to me to go “old school” until another teacher mentioned it at a teachers meeting in my area. This was actually a topic in a forum! It would appear we are all in this together. So double your efforts and have some hard copies on board. You know who needs the boost–just smile and hand them a copy and ask if there are any questions.
Keep on keeping on!
Dr. Carol Ann