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It seems that every school does open house night a little differently. However, the end goal is usually that parents get to meet teachers and get a feel for what it’s like to be a student at the school. It’s likely they’ll also find out what their child loves (and doesn’t love) about school.

Open house night is a chance for you to put your best foot forward. For some parents, it’s the only experience they’ll have in your music room. That sounds intimidating, but there are ways to create a welcoming environment, while showing everyone the value of music education.

MAKE IT INTERACTIVE with centers

This is by far my favorite tip, and the one I used most as a self-described introvert and shy person. Set up centers around your room that encourage collaboration between parents and children. This will keep some of the focus away from you and centered on what students learn in music. Parents will witness firsthand that music can be both fun and challenging. Below are some center ideas you can use. Click the titles to learn more.

NAME THAT INSTRUMENT
Students decipher the riddle on the front of the file folder, then lift the flap to see if they’ve guessed correctly.

VOCAL EXPLORATION WITH PIPE CLEANERS
Students bend pipe cleaners into different shapes, then sing the shapes.

RHYTHM MATCHING
Students match words with rhythms. This is a great one for collaboration because most parents will feel confident enough to check their students’ work.

INTERACTIVE SLIDESHOW
An slideshow (with interactive audio) explaining what students learn in music class. It can be projected on your interactive whiteboard.

CHROME MUSIC LAB
This is a great website/activity if you have desktop computers in your room. Just don’t forget the headphones 😉

LISTENING STATION
Use a cheap headphone splitter connected to an old ipod or boombox to play music. Have sheets ready for parents and students to respond to what they hear.

NEVER. STOP. SMILING.

 

One year, our school had a security guard for a week. He was stationed at the front entrance. One day, as I was walking by, he remarked, “Wow, you teachers just never stop smiling. It’s a full-time job!” He was visibly impressed. It was one of those moments that made me proud to be a part of a school with so many smiling teachers.
 
It also made me realize that a smile has power.  I didn’t smile 24 hours a day in my personal life, nor did I think I should. But when it came to school, I needed kids to feel safe to raise their hands in class or approach me in the hallway. I needed them to know that music was a happy place. That school was somewhere I wanted to be. And a smile conveys all that in one simple action. Parents deserve that same positive impression, and just like the security guard, they’ll take note!
 
 

GATHER PARENT VOLUNTEERS

Now is a great time to find those parents who are itching to be involved in music. Have a signup sheet readily available with tasks that you will need help with throughout the year. This might mean helping you with concerts, program props, instrument repair, organizing fundraisers, finding buckets for your bucket-drumming class, and more.

Don’t be afraid to make the list long. The more you break up the tasks, the more doable it will appear to parents, and the more likely they are to sign up. Plus, there’s the added benefit of them seeing just how much work goes into what you do every day!

ADVOCATE, advocate, advocate

Your interactive centers will go a long way in helping parents to see exactly what their children are learning in music class. They might notice some differences in how they were taught music, versus how their children are taught music. I found that many parents simply didn’t remember what they learned in music as children, so it’s an important to remind them.

Make sure that parents have something tangible before they leave. You can download print music brochures for each grade level HERE. They’re pre-filled with plenty of information on what students are learning in class, why music education is important, and how parents can help. However, they’re also editable, so you can add information that’s specific to your school community.