Mixed Ages: Part II
In Part I of Mixed Ages, I shared my reasons for mixing different ages and piano skills in my weekly group lessons.
Now I will share how I have made it work.
Group lessons must always have a structure and a plan so that chaos does not take over. Adding different ages and skills could disrupt the flow of your class if you do not have a well thought out plan.
For the simple reason that I allow students, whether from private lessons or any piano group in my studio to interchange days if they have schedule conflicts, every student needs to know what to do if they are at the studio for a make up lesson. There is no time for explaining the rules and the routine.
The following list shows the activities that take place during a 60 minute group lesson:
- Group Time – 5 minutes – students and teacher come together to talk about any changes for the lesson, introduce the rhythm and iPad assignment and answer any questions.
- Theory Book – students work on assigned theory pages on their own. They can always ask me for help.
- Piano Pieces – play their prepared piano pieces for me or I assign new pieces.
- iPad Game – Piano Maestro or other specific piano theory game that is assigned for the week. There is a specific goal to be met.
- Rhythm Practice – Rhythm Menagerie is the curriculum I use. Each student is required to work on at least one page, on their own, at their piano with the metronome.
- Ensemble/Creativity– improvisation, piano band, piano arranging, etc.
When students come into class they know to set their book on their piano then choose a Piano Goals card and a marker. Activities #2 – #5 are listed in different order so that I am able to listen to each student individually. This weekly schedule enables them to manage their time more effectively and teaches them to practice on their own. If you were to walk into the studio during a Mixed Ages class you would see students moving around from place to place, checking off their Piano Goals card, raising their hand for help and even trying to get away with playing a different game on the iPad!
Sometimes students have not practiced the assigned pieces. What happens then? They have a choice to spend their time practicing or continuing to follow the Piano Goals card. I really want the students to have a positive experience at the studio and not feel intimidated to come if they have not practiced!
Students in the Mixed Ages group piano class are 8 – 11, who have had piano lessons before. There are at least 4 students in each class, but when sports season is at its best I might have 7 students making music!
Questions? Suggestions? ideas? Share with me in the comments below!