Now that I run my own home studio, I unfortunately don’t have the student base (or space) to add a digital piano lab to my music room. However, I offer monthly group classes for my students in order for them to experience some of the benefits of learning in a group environment.
Obviously, with only one piano my current group classes are much different from the ones I once taught in the digital piano lab. After many years, I have found a formula of activities that I think works well in my limited space, and can be adapted for students of all ages and skill levels:
- Ice breaker activity: The first thing I do in each class is to plan some sort of ice breaker activity, be it a game, a listening activity, or a group discussion. This gives the kids a chance to get to know each other a bit and interact with each other. It is also eye-opening as a teacher to see my students’ personalities in a group setting, as opposed to what I see each week in our private lessons.
- Theory or History Lesson: Next, we usually do something instructive, like review a theory concept that the students are learning (counting eighth notes, for example) or listening and learning about a famous piece of music. I ask lots of questions, giving the students a chance to engage one other and relate what we are learning about to what they are doing in their private lessons.
- Performance practice: I ask students to be prepared to play 3 pieces of music of their choice. These can be polished pieces, pieces in any stage of learning, or even original compositions. Anything the student would like to share is allowed. We also review recital etiquette (listening politely, bowing, applauding).
- Ensemble playing: Finally, we end the class by working on an ensemble piece. Depending on the number of students, we might do duets, trios, quartets, or even pieces with percussion parts. All of these pieces are at sight-reading level, and students rotate so that everyone gets a chance to play each part.
In future blog posts I hope to share some specific activities I have done with my students at our group classes. What do you think? Do you offer group classes for your private students?