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Why Group Piano?

The mentality still exists that piano is best done one on one, but that method of teaching denies the student many opportunities to learn in an fun, relaxed group atmosphere. In my eleven years of teaching at the studio, I have seen why taking group lessons is such an advantageous way to learn: not only for children, but for adults as well! Countless times in teaching the thought has come to my mind that I wish I would have learned to play in group lessons. Many of the problems I struggled with for so many years would have been overcome or avoided completely if I had taking group lessons with a good instructor. I had many difficulties with rhythm and counting when I took private lessons: I hated math and for that reason I wouldn't discipline myself to count. If I had learned in a group setting I believe many of those difficulties would have been circumnavigated. For instance, clapping a rhythm over and over alone is boring, but try it with some friends and it becomes a game! Counting out loud in a private lesson is uncomfortable and embarrassing, however when students count out loud together, it becomes socially acceptable!
      I have no doubt that certain basics that were passed over by my private teachers would have been covered in the systematic approach that group lessons provide. Group lessons combine the best of solo and ensemble playing. Ensemble playing, like playing in a band or orchestra, teaches the student that timing is of utmost importance; that the beat is king! Playing and singing together also forces the student into becoming proficient at reading music. In group classes, new material is always read together, at a slow tempo so the students reading skills are improved in every lesson. Soon, the students are able to take a new piece of music of their level and are able to play through it relatively well the first time without having first practiced it.

     Group lessons foster a spirit of friendship, encouragement and peer support.  I have seen many friendships develop between students in a class. This atmosphere of friendship quells the anxiety often associated with performing for others: the students discover that when they play a solo in class, they are playing for friends. As students listen to fellow student's solo playing they discover that everyone faces the same challenges with the music and this dispels the fear that they are slow or unintelligent. The students discover that it is indeed a matter of practice to overcome challenges and move to the next level. As a result students become more interested in practicing and learn to root for the success of their peers as well as their own! Learning in a group is also so much less intimidating than learning in a private lesson: the teacher's focus is not on one student alone, so it lessens the pressure involved in learning and performing.

     And if the musical results aren't enough of reason to get into group lessons, the effect that playing an instrument, piano in particular, has on the brain is staggering. Countless studies have shown that children that play piano score higher in math than their peers that do not, especially in the areas of fractions and ratios. Music is decoding: translating words and symbols into sounds. The constant practice of decoding that occurs during lessons and at home has a positive impact on reading and language learning. And of course playing the piano also develops fine motor skills and results in improved hand eye coordination.

    I could go on and on about the great things I have seen happen in my classes. I know that teaching in this style has affected me personally for the better! Many of my own deficiencies have been greatly reduced by teaching in small groups. I love teaching and sharing music. Music really is a gift that lasts a lifetime: when one is old and gray and not able move about, one can still experience the joy that comes from playing melodies on the keys.


Piano classes prove that children enjoy learning in a fun, relaxed piano class atmosphere.

They progress more rapidly, friendships develop, and the joy of sharing music is experienced.

Below is a list of the benefits and joy of learning in group instruction.

Music is shared and becomes a social skill

The students enjoy meeting in small classes, rather than individually. There is a spirit of friendship, encouragement and peer support. As friendships develop and the joy of sharing music is experienced. Students progress more rapidly in a stress-free piano class environment. Students who participate in group lessons are more interested in practicing. Group lessons also afford students the opportunity to take an interest in fellow students and their success; creating positive musicianship.

Positive peer pressure

Having a student model a piece of music is always far superior to an adult piano teacher. Often if student plays a piece of music it inspires confidence in their classmates that they can do the same. In a group situation you have ready-made ensembles without having to schedule special times for this experience.

Repetition is easier

Students spend more quality time with the teacher in a group setting, which allow for more repetition. Clapping rhythm over and over alone is boring but try it with some friends and it becomes a game!

Counting out loud is socially acceptable

Counting out loud in a private lesson is uncomfortable and embarrassing. When students count out loud together, it becomes socially acceptable! Group lessons encourage counting, which is tremendously important for rhythmic skills.

Ability to observe the teaching process

Students must become their own teacher when they go home to practice. In a group lesson, a student learns this process by observing the teacher with other students. There are times when students are asked to tutor fellow students; this builds teaching skills and confidence. Fellow students often open up more with student teachers than the adult teacher. This setting affords the student a dual educational experience: they are a performer and a teacher.

Perspectives on  challenges of learning piano

The development of self-esteem is essential. When a student takes a private lesson, they have no perspective on any challenges they may encounter while learning to play the piano. In a group situation, when students listen to their peers play they come to realize that other students face similar challenges and that these can be overcome by simply practicing more.

Playing "musically" becomes the norm

In a group situation where the entire group listens, the student is positively pressured into using dynamics and expressions by the students listening. Students learn how to positively critique one another’s playing and encourage each other, which results are students who enjoy playing their latest accomplishments for each other and making suggestions.