Group Classes

Catherine de Mers said: Aug 10, 2016
 Piano, Voice, Guitar
New Orleans, LA
3 posts


I am planning to start teaching group classes for the first time this year. I’d appreciate any feedback regarding:

  1. Do you charge extra for group classes or include them in tuition?
  2. How do you set up group classes?
  3. How often do you hold group classes?
  4. How can I encourage attendance at group classes?

I’m thinking of starting with four classes per year. I have my students divided into four groups by age and ability. I have not presented a schedule to parents yet and don’t know whether or not they’ll be able to do this. I have some siblings in different groups, meaning more than one class per family, and I teach in home lessons to some of these students. In other words, some of them are used to me coming to them, and we’ll see if they are willing to make the trip to my studio for group classes. The ones who do come to me usually have very tight schedules. Any feedback would be much appreciated.

Thank You,


Catherine de Mers

Mengwei Shen said: Aug 11, 2016
Mengwei Shen
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Piano, Cello
Jersey City, NJ
220 posts

I started a group class with a trial period of once a month for 4 months at no extra charge. The trial was as much for me as for the students. Before the first class happened, I casually mentioned at lessons that I was planning to try this new thing and hoped they could come. Later, after seeing the success and potential, I announced a tuition increase effective the new school year (Sept) to reflect the value added by group and increased the frequency to mostly weekly. I didn’t have anyone leave because of the new requirement (although over the years most of that first group have left). Every new student/family starts with the expectation that groups are part of the program.

Class setup is going to depend on the instrument, class size, range of skills of the students, educational goals that you have for them, social goals, etc. If you haven’t already, I would recommend spending some time writing down what you are aiming to accomplish by starting group classes, then let your setup and activities flow from there. (And if you know your purpose, you can be more convincing to parents.) Your goals might evolve; every year I throw out stale ideas and try other ones.

Some will come initially because they are paying for the class. Later they’ll realize that the children learn more or retain skills better when they see me twice a week (and children generally enjoy the social aspect). If someone is struggling because of not enough listening/practice/motivation at home, I’ll point out that group helps with that. Everyone has things they might want or need to do during group time and has to make their own decision on what to choose.

Mariana del Rosario Rodriguez Alcantara said: Aug 15, 2016
Mariana del Rosario Rodriguez Alcantara
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Suzuki Early Childhood Education, Piano, Viola
Guatemala City, Guatemala
3 posts

That’s great Catherine!

I think group classes are essential, not only for the social benefits on children themselves, but on teachers also. There, you get to know your student thoroughly, and have the chance to review some topics that need extra work (instrument technique, music reading—on bigger children, etc).

In my Studio, I give 1 group class of 45 min. per week. These are included on the tuition, and always given in a specific activity order:
1. Greeting Activity
2. Bow Techinique Exercise
3. Violin Posture Exercise
4. Intonation and Scale Playing
5. Hearing and/or Internalization Exercise
6. Music Reading and/or Writing Exercise (for students above book 2, or 12 years old.
7. Pieces Playing (putting in practice all the stuff worked in class before)
8. Goodbye Activity

In all the group class, I put emphasis in the colaborative work and learning of both children and parents, with games according each student age. I give them (group classes) the same day of the individual class (saturday evening), so attendance is not a problem for me. But I can suggest you, to start inviting your home lesson students for free at your group classes, do they can have the experience and get to love this different type of violin learning. I would also talk to their parents and let them know the advantages this would have in their children learning process; the point is to make them know this “extra effort” is super worth it.
I know you can and will do it! You can tell me if this worked for you, I hope I helped you…blessings from Guatemala!

Catherine de Mers said: Aug 16, 2016
 Piano, Voice, Guitar
New Orleans, LA
3 posts

Hi Mariana!

Thanks for your feedback! I probably should have mentioned that I am a piano teacher, but I’m glad to her about how your violin group classes work, and I think a lot of the same things apply. You also got me thinking about how maybe I could have more children in a group by using percussion instruments and then having them rotate on the piano. Encouraging the parents ahead of time is a great idea, and hopefully they will see for themselves that the group classes are helpful. Thank you for your encouragement, and I’ll let you know how it goes! Blessings to you from New Orleans!

Catherine de Mers

Catherine de Mers said: Aug 16, 2016
 Piano, Voice, Guitar
New Orleans, LA
3 posts


Thank you for sharing your ideas of starting with a trial period and clearly writing down my goals for the classes. It is helpful to know that you have also experimented with different ideas and are able to try out new things without fear of losing students. I have also found that my ideas do change, and I am sometimes wary of implementing them, but in actuality, parents and students usually respond in a positive way when they see benefits for their children.

Best of luck!

Catherine de Mers

Edward said: Aug 17, 2016
Edward Obermueller
Suzuki Association Member
Morris Plains, NJ
73 posts

Here are two articles you might find helpful on motivation to attend group class, feel free to copy out and use in your own materials:

The Many Benefits Of Group Class
Taming The Savage Beast, Or Why We Do Group

I offer group class once a month, and include it as part of tuition. In my policy I state flat out that group class attendance is required. I understand, though, that “life happens” and I’m willing to work with parents, for example a recent new student who observes the sabbath as a religious devotion on Saturdays can never attend my group class, and that is not a deal breaker for teaching him. But if a student regularly missed because of blowing it off or the dreaded last-minute “something came up” text from parents—not OK, and may be grounds for removal from the studio.

Group class is an essential part of the learning environment and the Suzuki philosophy, and it isn’t fair to other students to flake out and not be there (especially when I send out the calendar at the beginning of the year and it isn’t every week.)

Final thought: As a parent of four boys, I do want to be on parents’ side about balancing their lives and commitments—that’s one of the reasons I don’t ask them to commit to an every week group class. If what I am asking for is fair, then I can raise the expectation level for attendance.

Happy practicing,

Free Guide: Mom, Dad, Can I Practice?
Free Game: Leprechaun Practice System --> Works for online teaching!

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