5 Things I Love About Mixed Age Group Piano

Posted on Jan 28, 2019 in 10 things, Featured

Way back in 2015 I wrote a post titled 10 Things I Love About Group Piano  and as I read the list I found that there is nothing I would change. However, during the last two years I have been focusing on Mixed Age group classes. It has certainly been a challenge for me but at the same time it has definitely boosted student retention. Here I list a few reasons why:

  1. Progress Overview– all students have the opportunity to play out loud on the grand piano and it is quite interesting to hear their comments when it is a song they have played previously or is one they can’t wait to play! I’ve noticed that they frequently ask “what level is THAT piece? or “I remember playing THAT song a loooong time ago!”
  2. Flexible Schedule – basketball, soccer, gymnastics, tutoring – if I want my studio to continue to exist I need to accommodate the student’s changes in schedule in a way that does not drive me crazy. I schedule group piano 3 days a week, roughly at the same time, so if a student needs to switch groups, for any reason, they are welcome to join another group.
  3. Interaction with variety of ages – students who enroll in a Mixed Age class at my studio are ages 7 – 11. The younger ones can sometimes be intimidated by the skills of the older, but I have found that if I have an attitude of kindness and sharing, my students will do the same with each other. Some of the students have even found a “buddy” to help them with theory instructions, finding sounds on the keyboard or reading flashcards.
  4. Opportunity for students to work independently – My ideal group size is 6 but I’ve allowed 9 – each one at their own piano, on special occasions. The goal of my Mixed Age class is not for the students to spend time with me individually, but for us to make music together and on their own. Class includes music theory, ensemble, games, composition, practice, music history and performance. Not all subjects are covered every week, but students have learned that on the days I hand them a Task Card, there is a set schedule to follow in a particular order, independently.
  5. Siblings may join the same class – Parents already have so much on their schedule! If I can help out by allowing their kids to be in the same class, then I have gained 2 students (no discounts!).

Are you currently teaching group piano? Do you allow mixed ages and skills? Please share your thoughts!

2 Comments

  1. Julia
    January 31, 2019

    I have mixed skills groups. I am still working on optimizing them. My same-skill groups are so much easier to manage. I am working on making my mixed-skills group students more independent. Some of them seem to need to ask me something every 2 minutes! And it is usually something I’ve just explained to them 🙁

    How long are your group lessons?

    Reply
    • Dorla
      February 2, 2019

      Hi Julia! you are right in saying that students can get a little needy! I have determined to get them accustomed to a routine and it definitely takes time! My classes are 60 minutes in length and each student has a card of tasks that they rotate through in a specific order when we are not in a group activity.
      Happy group teaching!

      Reply

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