Group Lesson Quandary

said: Apr 9, 2006
 32 posts

I moved to a new state two years ago and when I came here I had no idea how many students I would be able to get right away…I thought I would be waiting tables for at least a few years and I wasn’t careful about setting up my studio for the future; I’ll be in this area for 6 years or so while my husband is in grad school, and I was thinking I would just pick up a few students and start my “real” studio the next place we go. Therefore, I did not require everyone to go to group class, even though I offered it at a school every week. Now I have 48 students and I am realizing how much I messed up by not requiring group class—I have several families on board, but an equal number not so excited about yet another activity to bring their kids to every week. I want to have everyone in group next fall, and am brainstorming how to make that possible. My kids are so overbooked, and it really is not possible for everyone to come to group every week. I am thinking about continuing my weekly group class, and also offering a once-a-month group class on a Saturday, and requiring everyone to pick one of those options. Is a group class once a month even worth it? Any other ideas? I have heard of teachers doing three weeks of private lessons and then the fourth week having group class—it sounds wonderful until I think of the scheduling, especially with such a large studio.
Thank you!!

said: Apr 10, 2006
5 posts

Congratulations on the quick growth of your studio!

I had a similar situation, with 45 students. I thought that growth would take longer than it did, so I did not require group from the beginning. Then, when I subsequently started group, I advertized it as part of a complete “Suzuki Program,” allowing current parents of students to choose whether to become a part of the Suzuki Program. Of course, I talked to them about what sorts of things we’d do and how much group augments progress and so forth.

Having some people in the Suzuki Program and other not worked just fine (even though ideally, of course, I’d have loved everyone to be a part of group also). Partly this is because I had a lot of high school students who had started in the public school system—so they were on a different track anyway. Another reason that this worked well is because I did realize that with everyone being so insanely busy these days, some people would just never do group—and some of them were people with whom I enjoyed working and who were still making good progress. I’d prefer be able to help students to whatever extent they desire rather than to eliminate them just because they aren’t as serious about the violin as some others are.

Then, as new students came in (especially little ones), being part of the Suzuki Program was a given. Eventually, with turnover, you could still have a studio full of students who do both lessons and group, if that is what you want.

I ended up liking the way things worked so well that I still take on some high school students, who are not a part of the Suzuki Program. I’ve never had arguments with parents of little ones, saying they don’t want to do group. In fact, if they start in the later part of the year when the group for beginners no longer really consists of beginners, they cannot wait for a new group to start up so that they can join it.

In other words, having some students in the Suzuki Program and some not just hasn’t caused conflicts. People get as much out of what I offer as they want to, and everyone is happy. And I personally love variety. Each student is totally unique, which makes things fun. :D

Oh, my group class is indeed every week, at its own special time. Personally, once-a-month group would leave me cold, as well as the students and parents, from what I’ve seen. It’s too far apart for there to be real ensemble and motivational progress, which would frustrate me. Plust, parents skeptical about the worth of group to begin with would end up feeling vindicated that it’s a waste of time, which is completely untrue, of course, but they can’t see the value if it’s only once a month—especially if they have to miss one…. which makes it every other month for them, and so forth. But again, that’s just been my observation. I’ve found the option of all or nothing in terms of group to be successful.

“Beautiful tone, beautiful heart”
~Shinichi Suzuki

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