Maybe I am the only group piano teacher that has to deal with discipline in the classroom…maybe not; but I wish there were more teachers talking about it!
Meeting with my group piano students once a week it sometimes feels like the first few classes in a semester are spent putting routines into place and reminding them of good habits. Granted, even private students like to play the piano keys while I am talking to them and it sometimes it takes more than once to ask them to stop; but a class of 8 students tinkering away while I am giving instructions is a nightmare.
So here is my list of 10 Things that I faithfully follow in order to manage my group piano classes:
- Lesson Plan. Even if my lesson plan is not written down I have a mental picture of what pieces we will learn, what concepts will be introduced, what games will be used to reinforce skills and any other activity that I would like to add.
- Assigned Seating. Whether this is a large or small class everyone knows where to sit each week. My larger classes have 2 students per piano so it is important that pair students wisely. Of course, I’ve had to make changes during the course of the semester for different reasons.
- Written Work is done while standing at the table. When there are no chairs involved I avoid the added commotion and little ones falling out of the chairs!
- No talking while we play. “Teacher, I’m lost!”. Little by little I train them to find their place in the music on their own or to just stop until we start over again.
- No playing while the teacher talks. There are always those who are eager to play for everyone to hear how fast they can play the lullaby… but they are learning to wait until sharing time at the end of class.
- Raise your hand if you have something to say. They do it every day in school. Why would they not do it at piano school?
- Variety of activities. Playing the piano, dancing, written work, board games, music stories for the younger ages, playing drums, etc. When I insist on spending all our time at the piano I exhaust my class and then disaster strikes!
- Your piano gets turned off. Yes. I had one student who constantly talked and played the piano. So I turned her piano off. She didn’t care. She kept talking even after I moved her away from the group. So I did #9.
- Talk to the parent. This parent was very understanding and kind. We tried again the following week. Same issues. So I did #10.
- Switched to another class. This student is now in private lessons. I do not know how she behaves in school with 20 other kids – but at 4:00 pm she was not handling music and other kids well. She is very musical and of a good spirit. Our private lesson is going quite well. I believe the distractions have been removed.
Do you have any suggestions for classroom management? Please share!