students not attending group lesson

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Sara said: Sep 3, 2009
 Violin
191 posts

My studio has really struggled this last year or so getting student to attend group lesson. I don’t charge extra for it. It is included in their lesson rate regardless if they show or not. But I can’t get the same students to be consistent at attending and it’s getting really difficult to plan the groups. Every time I have a different mix of students.
I have sent out papers with the group lesson schedules on it. They all tell me in private lesson that they will be there. The group does not take place of private so some of them are at my house even the day before saying they will come and then they don’t show up.
What can one do to encourage attendance?

Thanks!

“What is man’s ultimate direction in life? It is to look for love, truth, virtue, and beauty.” Dr. Shinichi Suzuki

Connie Sunday said: Sep 4, 2009
Connie SundayViolin, Piano, Viola
667 posts

Make playing in the recital contingent on attending group lessons, take roll, and allow only two missed group per semester. Do not make exceptions when it’s recital time. Stick to your guns.

At group, have children play their recital pieces with piano accompaniment. Teach them to critique each other by saying two positive things and one thing that “could be better.”

While I do traditional things done in Suzuki group, part of my group is sometimes sitting in a circle in chairs, and I teach them how to play in orchestra, share a stand, mark the parts, turn pages, play in ensemble, keep the bowings consistent, sight read, etc., etc. The tiniest of my students know the conducting patterns.

I use the Suzuki ensemble books and the Latham editions of works, which are easy to read. I work with the more advanced and the beginners in different ways, of course, but we all work together. They love it and they manage to make it, most of the time.

For Latham editions, see:

Chamber Music—Easier
http://beststudentviolins.com/sheetmusic.html#chambermusic

and the Suzuki ensemble books (duet and quartet):

http://beststudentviolins.com/sheetmusic.html#suzuki

Free Handouts for Music Teachers & Students:
http://beststudentviolins.com/library.html#handouts

Ruth Brons said: Sep 5, 2009
Ruth Brons
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Viola
Livingston, NJ
148 posts

I agree that encouraging group attendance is very important.

The way to look at is that the best way to get and keep your program healthy you need to have your kids come to group.

Perhaps you could, instead of having the group fee included in the lesson fee, charge it as a separate yet mandatory fee. Use part of this money to hire a pianist.

If a weekly group is too much for families to commit to , then you could do maybe twice a month, or perhaps a series of three weekly groups in a row prior to Group and Solo concerts. Then find additional performance opportunities that need preparing for, like nursing home or community functions, which will also need group class prep.

Give priority scheduling to the families that are doing the whole program.

Keep pointing out the benefits of group participation: “Susie enjoyed her solo experience because she played before her friends at group so many times!” “Johnny learned Perpetual Motion in two weeks because he had heard it so many times in Group!” “Sally started memorizing her songs so much more easily after she started coming to Group!”

Good luck!

Ruth Brons
Inventor of Bow Hold Buddies[tm] accessory for violin/viola, and
CelloPhant[tm] bow accessory for cello
http://www.things4strings.com

Jodie St Clair said: Oct 2, 2009
Jodie St Clair
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Suzuki Early Childhood Education
Eugene, OR
16 posts

I have a similar set up (lessons are charged as a tuition and group class is included in this, but I don’t have a requirement to come to group class) and am always working on attendance. Here are some of the things I do to keep the attendance up.

  1. Make sure group class is fun. This is probably the most important for me, and while it seems obvious, it makes the most difference. I want all my students to feel disappointed if they miss out on the great stuff they’ll learn in group. Plus, it keeps me from getting in a teaching rut.

  2. Offer a few things they won’t get in lessons. Again it seems obvious, but if they feel like they are getting something more in group classes, parents won’t want them to miss.

  3. Make announcements and give priority to parents who bring their children to group class. When I have a sign up (rehearsals for recitals) I take it to group first. Group families get priority because they are dedicated to the program.

  4. Bribe parents. <img src=" /> I provide coffee and tea for parents at group class. My groups are Saturday morning, so it’s amazing what a little coffee will do.

  5. Plan group activities that are much easier if students have been attending group. My kids go busking twice a year and earn money for pizza parties. You could do a group performance or some sort of group activity or reward for kids who attend group class.

Hope that helps. I’m not going to deny, it’s a lot of work, but it’s so worth the outcome.

Eugene Suzuki Music Academy
www.eugenesuzukimusic.com

Sara said: Oct 2, 2009
 Violin
191 posts

Good idea! I have never even thought of busking before! I’ll have to give it a try. Do you have to check with local city laws first about when and where etc?

“What is man’s ultimate direction in life? It is to look for love, truth, virtue, and beauty.” Dr. Shinichi Suzuki

Jennifer Visick said: Oct 6, 2009
Jennifer VisickForum Moderator
Suzuki Association Member
Viola, Suzuki in the Schools, Violin
998 posts

YES, in many cities it is illegal to busk without a permit, whereas in other cities there are no restrictions.

Brigette said: Oct 7, 2009
Brigette Weisenburger
Suzuki Association Member
Piano
Aberdeen, SD
11 posts

I also charge and extra fee for group lessons, and charge whether students show up or not. If the fee is additional, I think it helps parents to view the group time for what it is, versus it being the “extra”.

Also, making it fun does help… it’s the entire reason some of my kids enjoy piano.

Deanna said: Oct 21, 2009
 
Suzuki Association Member
Violin
90 posts

I have the same problem. In general those that are signed up and paid for group attend well, but I have just slightly over half of my entire studio that are registered. In my program group lessons are every other Saturday morning and are a seperate fee (that is supposed to be mandatory). Those that come really enjoy it and I can see that they are better players because of it. More confident, better sense of musicality, much better listening skills etc. I mention this to the parents as well.

I also incorporate different things into the group lessons than what we do in private lessons like learning duets, music reading games, sight-singing, and ensemble work.

About a third of those that don’t attend group, don’t attend because they live out of town and it’s too much to drive in twice a week. I can understand that. But for the rest…

The idea of only letting those in group perform for the recitals is great, but on the other hand if the recitals are the only time those students get to play in a group I don’t want to deprive them of that. Also a few of my students (again ones that don’t come to group) don’t like performing in the recitals. I think it’s very important that they have experience performing and I don’t want to “let them off the hook”.

I like the idea of giving scheduling priority to those attending group. My studio is full right now and I’ve started a waiting list. Up until now I’ve given current students priority over new ones. With this policy do you give a new student signed up for group priority over an old student who doesn’t come to group?

Sara said: Oct 21, 2009
 Violin
191 posts

missbrigette

With this policy do you give a new student signed up for group priority over an old student who doesn’t come to group?

To that my opinion would be yes, give the new group student priority because it will keep the incentive for that student to keep coming as well as make the student who is not attending re-evaluate priorities.
mshikibu’s suggestion to make performing in the group at the recital contingent on if they attend group really has upped my group attendance. It’s amazing that when there are cause and effect or consequences/privileges that they really want, they figure it out and make it work.

“What is man’s ultimate direction in life? It is to look for love, truth, virtue, and beauty.” Dr. Shinichi Suzuki

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