The benefits of group lessons

The Music for Young Children keyboard based program is aimed to teach children starting at ages 3-10 for 3-5 years depending on what age they begin.  Lessons are in a small group setting with a maximum of 6 students per class.  If you’ve been around young children you know that sitting still for at least half an hour without a screen is unlikely.  Yet this is the age group where they seem to soak up information so quickly.  The solution: Music for Young Children (MYC).

You may be wondering what group lessons have to offer in comparison to private lessons, and here are some reasons to take group lessons:

1. Ensemble experience: The skill of playing together and performing in front of others is crucial to any developing musician. It requires listening and playing at the same time, a skill that group lessons do from the beginning. This means that your child will be a more confident performer and group member (orchestra, trio or a band) in the future. Most musicians, especially young students, need and want the enjoyable experience of making music with others in an ensemble, such as a full band, full orchestra, wind group, string group, percussion group, or jazz band. Group lessons lay the groundwork for that rich experience from the outset. Plus it’s so much fun!

2. Peer Interaction: Teachers and parents constantly see the benefits of peer support in group music lessons. In fact, some pupils initially express interest in learning an instrument specifically because their friends are studying it. Many youngsters (even some adults) may be too “shy” to sing or play alone, but will sing and play joyfully in a group.  Instead of just learning from the teacher students also get to learn from each other.  This may help struggling students to persevere, and gives more confidence to other students working on mastering new skills.  Learning  with your peers is not only more fun, but lessons are tailored to a specific age group.  We bring Music to life in classes, with puppets, games, teaching aids, songs, and more.  This is so different than the traditional private lesson setting.  Music is a social thing, we dance to it together, play it together, and sing it in worship together.  Learning piano doesn’t have to be solitary.

Students are used to learning in a group environment for their school work.  They tend to feel more comfortable beginning their Musical journey in a group environment as well, its more familiar.  Plus parents also join in MYC classes. You get to see how they learn, learn with them, and help them succeed. No need to ask them “What did you learn today?” You already know, and can practice with them in a fun way at home.  This is key to mastering new skills quickly.

3. Skill development:  The most important advantage of group lessons is the development of musical skills.  We work on technique, musicianship, and various skills involved in Music. Sight reading,  listening, ensembles, ear training, timing and counting, harmony, an appreciation of a wider range of musical styles, singing, etc.  We do group activities (march to the beat together, games, etc) that reinforce and develop new skills in a variety of ways. In a group, students share practical and helpful hints with each other.

4. Cost effectiveness:  You get a whole hour of music lessons for less than the price of a half hour private lesson.  I never have to openly compare students or pit them against one another, but certainly many of them “step up their game” when they are required to play in front of each other each week! The competition is subtle, and it can be an excellent motivation for many young students. And that can mean less “persuasion” from parents.

4. Structure: When teaching a group, classes need to move forward and goals need to be met. We have a clear curriculum in place ensures that key concepts are not missed or glazed over. Students will benefit from the routines within music class, and will learn to maintain good practice habits at home, which in turn builds better musicians.

5. It is a lot more FUN TO LEARN IN A GROUP! Children of a young age cannot be expected to sit a piano bench for  a half hour; it’s counter-intuitive.  Playing with others can give a child  new enthusiasm for practice, and often a reason to practice.   Often students enrolled in group classes stay in lessons for longer.They see themselves as part of a group, they don’t want to let their friends down, or do they want to lag behind. In my classes, we spend an action packed hour of at least a dozen activities that include moving, singing, tapping, dancing, listening, playing,  thinking and learning music in a way that children can enjoy and absorb easily. We have a variety of periods of focused attention and concentration.  Students often comment about how fast they whole hour has gone by.

If you have additional thoughts about this please feel free to share them.

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