Group piano teaching : LUSENET : Everything About Teaching and Learning the Piano : One Thread

I would like to have your views about the advantages and disadvantages of group teaching for children of about 7-8 years old. Are you personally for or against group teaching? Thank you.

-- Audrey Heesong (, December 02, 2001


I love teaching group! I've taught private and group for 25 years now and while there are advantages to each, I think kids tend to have a more well-rounded musical background in the group situation. But.... it all depends on the method you are using. You can't take a series that was made to be taught privately and adapt it for group with successful results. I tried that a long time ago with Bastien and something else, and it didn't work very well. There are a few group programs available. I teach Harmony Road Music Course, based in Portland, OR. It's similar to another method called Yamaha, but BETTER. In the group experience you want the kids to have ear training, rhythm ensembles, lots of singing, harmony singing, some movement, maybe even dance, some composing, and of course playing solo and ensemble pieces at the keyboard! Harmony Road uses solfege for notes, as opposed to letter names (that's a whole other debate). I have found that in the group class children "internalize" rhythm, notes, etc... better than in the private lesson. They experience a piece of music in a variety of ways, thus learning their music better. After four years of my program they graduate to private lessons and are incredible musicians! They have a strong inner rhythm, inner hearing (they can transpose a song into 5 or 6 keys), and they can play together as a group, each on his own keyboard, without one going faster or slower (this is great training for being in band later on). Here are a few disadvantages: you obviously can't stock a classroomm of pianos, and digitals are still pricey, so I use portable electronic keyboards. Some people have a problem w/children learning on a keyboard because the keys are not "weighted" like a piano, thus the kids aren't building finger strength. Another criticism is that the group situation doesn't allow for as much "one-on-one" with the student. While that may be true, it doesn't mean the kids aren't learning. They are learning, and because the parent is involved in every class, the parent is in the active role of teacher as well. By the way, I do group "music and movement" classes for 2's and 3's, then the actual piano/keyboard classes begin at age 4 1/2. Feel free to ema

-- Alexandra (, December 05, 2001.

I hav e question concerning group playing. What have you found effective for managing children when at the keyboards? Headphones? Mute button? What are your rules for playing time? Do you have them always playing at the same time? when you choose to focus on one child what do you have the other children do? Any answers would be most appreciated.

-- Ellen Johansen (, December 07, 2001.

Dear Alexandra,

Thank you very much for your reply about group piano teaching. This helped me to realise some points. I hope to hear from you again in case I need some help.


-- Audrey Heesong (, December 07, 2001.

In my setup I have 10 keyboards arranged in a half circle around my digital piano (where I am). This way I can see everyone's hands and better tell if they are in the right position. I can also tell when they are playing too fast, too slow, just by watching their hands. Now in my program the parent attends class (age 4-8), so he/she will be sitting right next to the student and help. I use electronic keyboards and use different sounds. We are all usually on the same sound and we play in unison. When we do a piece "hands together", I have half the class play LH part on one sound, the other half the RH on another first. We always have "solos", where the child performs either at the keyboard or my digital (the "big" piano). I don't use headphones, mutes, etc... and I've learned over the years that I can hear when someone is off-pitch or

-- Alexandra (, December 07, 2001.

Thanks a lot Alexandra


-- Audrey Heesong (, February 01, 2002.

I believe an excellent method exclusively for group piano is the Mayron Cole Method. She is a wonderful teacher living in Houston. You can read about her and her method at

Hope this helps you with more information.

-- Glenda Austin (, July 24, 2002.

Is there a time and level when you think that group lessons are no longer effective? How long were your group lessons and how much did you charge for each lessons? Did the age of your students ever effect the group? I am just beginning some group work and the ages of my students vary greatly within the group, do you think this will be any kind of problem? Thank you in advance!

-- Erika Lipiec (, January 21, 2003.

When you teach group you need to combine kids of the same age together in the same class. My PreK-Kindergarten kids use a completely different set of books than the 1st-2nd graders (who are becoming fluent readers in school, thus better readers and sooner readers in music). The 3rd-6th graders also use a different set of books. The younger kids will not have the fine motor skills of the older ones; you need to take that into consideration. However, ear training will be easier for the younger ones. And, no matter what method you're using, I just wouldn't mix several age groups together; the older ones won't appreciate being with the 'babies', and the younger ones won't be able to keep up with the older ones.

My classes are 45-55 minutes long, 6-10 kids per class. After 4 years in Harmony Road, they go on to private lessons.


-- alexandra (, January 23, 2003.

That would depend entirely upon whether or not you taught via a length of whip.

Group teaching may require a substantially longer whip you understand.

-- IIIIIIjIIIIII (, January 29, 2003.

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