About Group Lessons

Generally, parents believe that children derive more benefit from private instrumental lessons than from class lessons. Privacy in this connection connotes the ultimate in quality. But in the case of instrumental lessons, as in most learning situations, this isn't true. Children learning in a group will motivate each other in a way no teacher can. There's far more challenge when learning in a class. And this is simply because children are more concerned in competing with their peers than with the teacher. The class situation, moreover, allows the student to be involved in a greater variety of learning experiences than is possible in a private lesson.

A child learns most things by imitation, He learns to speak by imitating adults and by speaking with his playmates. Frequently he learns more quickly from another child than from his teacher. As an example of this, Martha was having difficulty in learning a particular bowing on the violin. But after observing Eleanor, with whom she shared class lessons, Martha was able to bow properly. Youngsters often learn to play a few chords on the guitar or Chopsticks on the piano because a friend showed them.

Since playing for others is an important part of being able to play an instrument, group instruction provides opportunities to perform regularly for others at all levels of performance, instead of only intermittently on special occasions. One afternoon, a mother whose son had taken private lessons for years asked him to play for several of her friends. Unfortunately, he was so nervous, he couldn't get through a piece. Becoming accustomed to an audience through class lessons gives a student confidence and poise.

Practically all instrumental instruction in public schools is in groups. However, finding class lessons with a studio teacher in your community may be difficult though more and more studio teachers are now conducting such classes. If necessary, parents might encourage a studio music teacher to give group lessons. Some music schools have already organized group instruction.

Added to all the other favorable aspects of class lessons--whether given in a studio or in a school--they enable the student to receive more instrumental instruction in a year than he would have had through private lessons. One music teacher who had been giving the usual one-hour lesson taught three students as a group in a one-and-a-half hour lesson. this arrangement cost the parents less and during a period of a year each child had sixty hours of music instruction, instead of forty hours.

Class lessons have been especially successful in preventing students who haven't fared too well in their private lessons from becoming instrumental dropouts.

A PARENT'S GUIDE TO MUSIC LESSONS, by Vera G. Wills and Ande Manners, pp 16-17.