Why Group Lessons?
In short, it’s effective and it’s fun!
Music has elements that are difficult to explain in words, elements that must be experienced in a personal way before definitions and explanations make any sense at all. The best way to approach most of these concepts is with the student away from the piano bench, reacting and interacting with music with their entire body.
Our group lessons allow students to gain these musical experiences by participating in activities that involve the whole body in a fun and engaging manner. Many times, the students may not even know that they are learning. Our students will be learning with other students their age, developing friendships and drawing inspiration and motivation from everyone’s successes.
Our activities are designed to increase concentration, attention to musical detail, and sensitivity to nuance. Additionally, students learn to use their body in a coordinated, expressive manner. We will also include elements of yoga to help students learn balance, centeredness, and mental calm.
But what about one-on-one time?
Yes, students taking traditional piano lessons do receive a significant amount of one-on-one time with a teacher. But this set-up has several limitations. One, it is difficult for young students to maintain focus and concentration, and lessons are often limited to 30 minutes for this very reason. Second, most of the one-on-one time is spent with the child on the piano bench. Piano teachers teaching out of their home simply may not have the space required for the kinds of off-the-bench activities that promote true understanding and learning.
At Conklin Studios, students are continually engaged with a variety of activities. It is much easier for a student to maintain concentration and focus when there are multiple games and exercises. Because we offer such a variety of activities, we can keep our students engaged with the musical material much longer. With our lesson structure, the students will hear the material more often, and understand it sooner.
By Semi-Private, we mean that during lesson time at the piano, two students will ‘share’ a teacher. Beginner students will sometimes play the same music at the same time, sometimes play ensemble music with their partner, and will sometimes take turns at the piano bench. One student will play while another listens. Students get to experience more music, not less.
Much of teaching beginning piano students is necessarily repetitive. Beginning students need to hear information not once or twice, but continually. By learning with a similarly aged and experienced friend, students will get that repetition while also drawing inspiration and motivation by hearing their friend’s progress. Students will also deepen their understanding of material by ‘assisting’ the teacher in identifying and praising successful elements of a friend’s performance and offering suggestions to help in places that might need work.
At Conklin Studios, students still have the advantage of having an experienced teacher demonstrate a healthy technic, the way the arms, wrists, hands, and fingers move to play the piano. There will be ample opportunity to develop an individual repertoire and to individualize instruction to the student’s needs, tastes, and abilities.
Elementary (2nd and 3rd year) students need more individualized instruction. In the second and third year, students will alternate piano time with computer aided instruction in music theory, music history, and ear training.
Want to read more on the matter? Read this article by renowned pedagogue, Dr. Robert Pace.