When I get a new student I invite the parent (or parents) to sit in on the first lesson. After that I prefer parents sit in my living room while I teach, or even go to our nearby downtown and enjoy some time off of parenting, but my studio door is never shut. Whatever I say to students should be able to be heard by parents. If I wouldn’t say it in front of a parent I don’t want to say it at all. (Do I always succeed in this? Well … um … no. But I’ve gotten better and better over the years!) If a parent asks to sit in on a lesson at a later date I let them do so. The reasons I prefer they not be in on every lesson is that 1) I tend to feel as if I have to talk to them as much as the student 2) they tend to talk to their child while I’m trying to teach and even if they don’t 3) a child is often distracted or made nervous due to mom or dad’s presence.


I just read about a music teacher who abused some students. Not verbally but, even more horrifying, sexually. Dear parents, watch over your children carefully. Although the man is clearly guilty (having admitted what he did), I’m leaving his name out of this. I’m merely alerting parents: abuse can happen. Watch. Listen. And if a teacher has a “doors closed, no visiting allowed” policy, you might reconsider lessons.

A former [symphony orchestra] cellist who indecently assaulted three boy pupils has been ordered to attend a sex offender treatment programme.

[The instructor ]sexually abused the pupils between 1970 and 1989 while giving private lessons.

He admitted carrying out the abuse during private lessons he gave while living in Haywards Heath, West Sussex, and Surbiton, Surrey.

He was given a three-year probation order by [the judge].


  1. Being a rather large male who could easily intimidate kids, I ask the parent to stay for multiple lessons until we have built a relationship of trust and familiarity. I’m also a very hands on teacher, and can be very intense, and will often push and prod my students in the first couple of lessons to see what they are doing in their setup, and want to make sure the parent sees all of the physical contact I have with their kid up close so there is no misunderstanding later. It’s just safer for me that way.

    Most parents don’t interfere anymore, and usually are reading or playing with their ipods during the lesson.

  2. I think what you do is a good idea, Cooper. Sad, but true, males have to be more careful in our biz. It’s rather silly; women can be just as abusive, really. Ah well.

    I have a few parents who, when I taught in my living room and they sat in there as well, wanted to talk to me or their child (often in another language) during lessons. I found that rather frustrating. Some also liked to sing! Most, though, tended to fall asleep!