Private Piano Lessons.. But In a Group!

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said: Apr 29, 2010
 2 posts

Has anyone every tried having 3 or 4 kids in a group class as their primary lesson (as opposed to one one-on-one private lesson a week and a group lesson for review/theory)? I’ve been a teacher for a long time, but I’m setting up a new studio in a different city and thinking about trying out this structure. It was once suggested to me by a teacher trainer and it sounds great in theory! Everything I would normally cover in a private lesson will be covered just as a group. I know I may have problems trying to group the kids together, depending on what ages and abilities I get.

Any suggestions or advice?

Laura said: Apr 29, 2010
 
Suzuki Association Member
Piano
358 posts

I have seen this done in institutes and was encouraged during training to do it this way. However, I believe that for piano, it works very well from pre-twinkle to about mid-Book 1. After that, it seems that every student has their own musical and technical challenges that need to be addressed in a more one-on-one setting.

In concept, you can mix and match the kids and teaching activities to keep everyone engaged and interested. But you need to have highly motivated, naturally cooperative kids to begin with. Any imbalance in the group with respect to behaviour can be an overall negative. In reality, I have seen a lot of kids quite bored and fidgety when it’s not their turn at the piano.

Because of the physical set-up, it’s just very hard to duplicate on piano the benefit of kids learning from each other in other Suzuki instruments. I’ve yet to see it it done really well on piano. Perhaps I just haven’t observed the right teacher doing it.

I try to have the best of both worlds in my studio by overlapping private lesson times somewhat, so that students mostly receive private instruction, but there is opportunity for observation and group participation too.

This is just my own opinion, I realize. I’d love to hear from others on this.

said: Apr 29, 2010
 89 posts

As a parent, I’d have to be convinced that I was getting my money’s worth. And I’m a Suzuki advocate…can’t imagine what uninformed parents might say! :O

said: Apr 29, 2010
 2 posts

Regarding ‘money’s worth’ I agree that I cannot charge private lesson prices for a group lesson, if that was your meaning. Fees will certainly be reduced to reflect that along with longer lesson times. Perhaps it may convince some parents to enroll making piano lessons more affordable while still getting quality teaching.

I have also seen other non-Suzuki private teachers and music schools in my city offering group piano and violin classes as their primary lesson, although they may (or may not!) incorporate more theory games for the young ones. I’d like to offer the Suzuki alternative to the public!

The Suzuki presence is strong here, but with overscheduled kids, their monthly group class isn’t treated as a priority, which is why I considered the idea of merging the group lessons as their base lesson.

Wild students will certainly be an issue since some can be hard to handle even one-on-one in my previous experience. Parents will be expected to attend, so hopefully they will help. Otherwise, I will have to keep them on their toes with some games.

Thanks for bringing some of your thoughts to my attention!

Julia said: May 25, 2010
Julia ProleikoViolin, Piano, Viola
Saint Louis, MO
22 posts

I think I read this in Michiko Yurko’s Music Mind Games book…sorry, cannot go back to check as the book was borrowed and never returned over a decade ago, but I remember liking the concept; it went something like this:
Group of four students over something like two hours. Students 1 & 2 went before the mini-group and students 3 & 4 went after. Students 1 & 2 were rotated as well as 3 & 4 and worked independently (theory games on the computer or homework) while the other student had their lesson. Then they left after group, but the other two stayed after group for their private lesson. In this way, each one had a private lesson AND a group lesson each week that lasted each week about an hour. It sounded almost ideal, but I have never quite been able to do it (namely because of scheduling issues). I have tried variations of this that have worked and have recently thought about trying it exactly as stated above (but keep coming back to the problem of scheduling). I think it would work best, though, with older students who work independently of their parents and who then would be able to play duets/quartets together as well as cover theory.

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