Forum Q&A's, Group Classes

Forum Q&A | Group Lessons: Benefits and Activities

Last week, we talked about the logistics of having group lessons — how often, how to schedule them, etc. — and we received a few great responses.  Thanks so much!!

This week, perhaps we can continue the discussion:

What kind of activities can be conducted during group lessons?  Do your students have a favorite activity?  How do you decide what to cover each week?  What benefits have you seen from holding group lessons in your studio?

Please share your tips and ideas in the comments below!

Photo Credit: sk8geek | CC 2.0

Forum Q&A's, Group Classes, Studio Business

Forum Q&A | Group Lessons: Scheduling & Other Logistics

Last week, we discussed ways to get books & materials for students, and methods of reimbursement.  As always, I really enjoyed everyone’s contributions to this discussion!  I think this fall, I’m going to try charging a non-refundable enrollment fee that reserves the student’s place in the studio and goes towards books & materials.  If the entire amount is not used, it will be used towards maintenance of the lending library.  We’ll see how it goes.  I think it will be much easier than my current method of waiting for reimbursement each time.  =)

Today, I’d love to start a discussion about group lessons!   Next week, we’ll talk about the benefits of group lessons and what kind of concepts can be covered — but today, we are just going to talk about the logistics of scheduling and planning group lessons.

So, tell us:

How often do you hold group lessons — monthly, or bi-monthly?  (And what do you call them: group lessons, studio classes, or something else?) Do group lessons replace the lesson for that week, or do you teach privately in addition to the group lesson that week? How long do your group lessons last?

How do you find a time that works for everyone?  How many students do you place in each group?  Do you divide your students into groups by age, or by level (or a combination of the two)?  If a student/parent decides they don’t want to participate in group lessons or their schedule doesn’t permit it, what do you do?

That was a lot of questions, I know, haha!  But I’m very curious to hear about how you all make your group lessons work for your studio.  Leave your thoughts in the comments below.  =)

Photo Credit: Rick Harris | CC 2.0

 

Announcements, Group Classes

The Melodica: Piano + Recorder?

Check out the new instrument we have at my home!

I ordered this melodica on Amazon as a surprise for my husband for Valentine’s day, although I plan to make use of it too in the future. =)

To play the melodica, you must blow very gently into the mouthpiece and starting pressing the keys.  The sound very much resembles the sound of an accordion.  Be careful – don’t blow too hard else you may blow the reeds out of place.

It can be played two ways: with the short mouthpiece held in your hands… Continue reading “The Melodica: Piano + Recorder?”

Early Childhood Music, Games, Group Classes, Music Camps

DIY: Ribbon Rings for Music & Movement Activities

I got the idea for this craft from Kara’s Creative Place blog (thanks for the brilliant idea, Kara!).  Ribbon Rings (Kara’s example is pictured at right) are a fun prop for movement activities with young students during group lessons, camps, or early childhood music classes.  Kids love fluttering the ribbons of these props while they do the motions to various songs.  You can buy similar ribbon rings at musicmotion.com…..or you can make your own!

These ribbon rings are made using the (non-sticky) plastic tape that is found at most hardware stores near the Caution tape.  I did consider using satin ribbon, however, plastic tape is much, much cheaper.  And actually I was pleasantly surprised at the results of using plastic tape.  I like it much better.  Because it’s so light, it flutters in the air so much better than satin ribbon would.  Definitely give it a try before you invest in satin ribbon!   Continue reading “DIY: Ribbon Rings for Music & Movement Activities”

Conferences, Group Classes, Music Camps, Reading Notation, Rhythm, Teaching Piano

2010 MMTA Conference (4): Functional Skills are Important by Martha Hilley

What follows are the notes I took from a session with Martha Hilley at the 2010 Michigan Music Teachers Association conference.

FUNCTIONAL SKILLS ARE IMPORTANT TO EVERYONE ~ by Martha Hilley

“Functional skills” include skills such as harmonization, improvisation, transposition, rhythm, and theory.  There are many fun ways to incorporate functional skills into group/private settings.  Today we are going to try out some examples:

Rhythm Activities

Activity #1. Make up a series of patterns such as:

Tap   Clap    Tap    Clap
Tap   Clap  |___|  Clap
Tap  |___|   Tap   Clap
Tap  |___| |___| Clap

Put them on a transparency or write them on a whiteboard.  (The box is the quarter rest.)  Most students don’t have time for rests!  They want to keep going.  So give them something to do during the rests (e.g., saying “rest” aloud; or making some kind of movement during the rest).  This is a great activity for class piano or monthly group lessons. Continue reading “2010 MMTA Conference (4): Functional Skills are Important by Martha Hilley”

Conferences, Games, Group Classes, Music Camps, Rhythm, Teaching Piano

2010 MMTA Conference (1): Theory & Improv as the PB&J of Music, Part 1

What follows are the notes I took from a session with Martha Hilley at the 2010 Michigan Music Teachers Association conference.  She shared with us a number of activities that can be incorporated in a variety of settings, whether it be the private lesson, class piano, or monthly group lessons (my summary is posted here with permission).

THEORY & IMPROVISATION: THE PB&J OF MUSIC ~ by Martha Hilley

Introduction

Do you have your students improvise?  Do you improvise?  The biggest reason teachers don’t improvise during the lesson with their students is the giant time factor: we often don’t want to take the time out of the lesson.  However, improvisation can be very effective even with beginners.

Activities:

1. Black Key Improvisation

Use improvisation even with young beginner students.  They often can play rhythms that they can’t yet read, so use improvisation as a way to teach rhythm and technique.  It frees them from the score.  Black key improvisation is especially great because there are no wrong notes!

1) Ask student to put 5 fingers on 5 black keys (any 5).

2) Teacher sets up an ostinato.  Student is instructed first to listen to the ostinato, and then play (immediately after, joining the teacher). Continue reading “2010 MMTA Conference (1): Theory & Improv as the PB&J of Music, Part 1”

Music Theory, Printables, Worksheets

Just Added: Musical Terms Worksheet #1

Just added to the Printables > Worksheets page:

Musical Terms Worksheet #1

This worksheet is intended for beginner/early elementary students who have learned basic note values and musical terms.  The student is instructed to match the musical symbol pictured on the left to each corresponding term on the right.  Terms covered include: treble clef and bass clef, basic rhythms (quarter note through whole note), and  dynamics (piano through forte).

Complete list of covered in this worksheet:

  • treble clef
  • bass clef
  • quarter note
  • half note
  • dotted half note
  • whole note
  • piano
  • mezzo piano
  • mezzo forte
  • forte

Stay tuned – another muscial terms worksheet is to come in the upcoming weeks!

Music Theory, Printables, Worksheets

Just Added: Five-Finger Pattern (b’s) Review

Just added to the page of free Printables:

Five-Finger Pattern Review (b’s) worksheet

This worksheet is intended as a review of all the major five-finger patterns (5FPs) with flats; however, using the “WWHW” pattern template, students can easily figure out any 5FPs that they might not already be familiar with.  This worksheet will help students become more familiar with the accidentals needed for each FFP and what each FFP looks like when played on the keyboard.

A worksheet such as this works well in group lessons, or as an extra theory assignment for the private lesson.

To download, visit the Printables > Worksheets page and scroll down the F’s for the “Five-Finger Pattern Review worksheet.”

This worksheet corresponds to previously posted Five-Finger Pattern Review worksheet for FFPs with #’s.

Early Childhood Music, Group Classes, improving as a teacher, Rhythm

Developing a Good Sense of Rhythm

Developing a good sense of rhythm is one of the most challenging parts of being a piano teacher.  It’s not something that arrives overnight, and it’s something that must be maintained as the student advances to music with more advanced rhythms and time signatures.  It truly is something that must be developed.

I’d like to suggest that there are three components to having and developing what we so loosely refer to as a “good sense of rhythm”:

  1. A sense of beat. This means the ability to maintain a steady beat/pulse.  This is probably the most common and most basic problem that students encounter when it comes to rhythm issues in their piece.  The inability to maintain a steady beat/pulse is crucial for developing #’s 2 and 3 below.
  2. A sense of rhythm (i.e., note values).  This involves being able to accurately identify and execute the various note values within a variety of tempi.  Beginner students may struggle with placing eighth notes within a quarter note beat, while more advanced students may struggle with syncopated rhythms or playing 2 against 3.  It is nearly impossible to develop a sense of rhythm without first developing a sense of beat (#1 above). Continue reading “Developing a Good Sense of Rhythm”
Music Theory, Printables, Worksheets

Just Added: Five-Finger Pattern Review (#’s)

Just added to the page of free Printables:

Five-Finger Pattern Review (#’s) worksheet

This worksheet is intended as a review of all the major five-finger patterns (5FPs) with sharps; however, using the “WWHW” pattern template, students can easily figure out any 5FPs that they might not already be familiar with.  This worksheet will help students become more familiar with the accidentals needed for each FFP and what each FFP looks like when played on the keyboard.

A worksheet such as this works well in group lessons, or as an extra theory assignment for the private lesson.

Look for corresponding the Five-Finger Pattern Review worksheet for FFPs with b’s coming soon!

Ear Training, Games, Group Classes, Music Camps, Printables

Just Added: “Listen & Sign” Game Printable

Just added to the Printables page: “The Listen & Sign Game.”

This printable corresponds to the game originally described in this post – a game I used in a Piano Mini-Camp held about a month ago.  Continue reading “Just Added: “Listen & Sign” Game Printable”

Group Classes, Memorization, Performances, Printables, Teaching Piano, Worksheets

Just added: Performing at the Piano Worksheet

Just added: a new free, printable worksheet called:

>  Performing at the Piano Worksheet

Just in time for the spring recital season, this fill-in-the-blank worksheet is intended to help prepare students for an upcoming recital or other performance by discussing stage presence and performance etiquette.

Terms/concepts covered in the worksheet:

  • Memorizing
  • Applause
  • Bowing
  • Checking the bench
  • and more.

This worksheet can either be sent home with students, completed one-on-one with the student during the lesson, or — my favorite — done as a group as a studio class or group lesson.   It would be fun to complete this worksheet as a group just before a practice run-through of a recital.

To download, visit the Printables > Worksheets page and scroll down to the P’s for “Performing at the Piano worksheet.”

Your turn!  Share your ideas for preparing students for recitals in the comments!