Be Kind to Your Parents

I often use this blog as a venue to write about my work with children.  In reviewing my archive of past entires, I realized that I left out one very important detail of my work – parents.  It is impossible to work with children and not encounter their parents.  In fact, if I didn’t ever encounter my students’ parents, something really would be wrong!cartoon2207

Parents can be challenging.  They ask too many questions.  They overbook their kids.  They don’t understand the value of your work.  They hover.  They think they know more than you do.  They don’t respond to emails.  They send you too many emails.  They’re over involved.  They’re under involved.

Parents can also be amazing allies.  They advocate for their kids.  They support their artistic and academic endeavors.  They volunteer to help build sets.  They arrange carpools.  They value your work.  They feed you.  And, let us not forget, they sign your checks.

Though I do not always work with them directly, parents are an essential part of what I do.  After all, they are the ones who are telling their kids that it’s okay to try out for the school play, or take voice lessons, or play the piano.  They are investing time, energy, and money into the pursuit of an artistic accomplishment.  At first, I think I was afraid of parents.  I didn’t want to them to somehow “get in the way” of the work the student and I were doing.  And I certainly didn’t want them treating me like “the help” or telling me how to do my job.  I was young and defensive.  Over time, though, I have learned that parents are really the key to mine and their child’s success.  I need the parents to understand why our work is valuable.  Beyond that, I need them to encourage their child to practice when I’m not there.  Whether I see parent_flutethe student once a week for a voice lesson or three times a week for a rehearsal, there is still the need for work to happen in between.  Talent aside – the more that the parents encourage practice at home, the more prepared and successful the student is in the lesson or performance.

Parents are also an amazing gateway into understanding their children.  They will often share sensitive information about how a student is struggling in a certain class or having some social challenges – things that the student may be nervous or embarrassed to tell you herself.  And, of course, you can learn so much about a person simply by studying his or her parents!  The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. stivers-1-19-04-piano-lesso


Published by rachelrobinsonmusic

Rachel Robinson is a teaching artist, director, music director and performer based in San Francisco. She is a graduate of New York University’s Steinhardt School, and holds a degree in Vocal Performance. In addition to her work as a singer/actress, Rachel maintains a very busy schedule directing, music directing, and teaching. Rachel grew up in the Washington, D.C. area where she became an active performer at a very early age. She appeared many times with The Washington Opera, and she also played roles at the Adventure Theatre and with the Washington Savoyards. In 2003, Rachel moved to New York City to begin her degree at New York University. During the next four years Rachel appeared in many cabarets and productions, both at NYU and in the city. After graduating in May 2007, Rachel became the resident Music Director at Stage Left Children’s Theater in Tappan, NY. She was in residence there for three seasons. At the same time, she founded a private voice and piano studio. In September 2010, Rachel relocated to San Francisco. She began working as a music instructor at ViBO Music, Village Music School, and the San Francisco Friends School. She also was brought on as a music director at the Willows Theatre Company. In 2011-2012, Rachel spent a year as the Conservatory Director at the Willows, where she worked on developing opportunities for youth and up-and-coming theatre artists. No matter what level of student she is working with, Rachel believes in finding the student's "natural voice." Playing any instrument is a process, not an event, and her goal is to make that process as fun, productive, and insightful as possible.

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