I’m excited to introduce our April guest blogger to you today. Dorla Aparicio recently started a group piano teaching blog, www.grouppianoteaching.com. If you have ever thought about teaching piano lessons in a group setting, you will definitely want to subscribe to her blog. There are already some great posts to read and I predict many more in the future! Dorla will be sharing her tips and tricks for getting started in group teaching. Enjoy her post below…
There are many aspects of a private piano lesson that can be transferred to a group setting, however you should not think of a group lesson as 6 mini private lessons in one hour; that idea just defeats the purpose of having a group!
Let’s say you have a group of beginners ages 7 – 8 that you would like to teach at the same time and you only have one grand piano in your studio. Can this be done? Definitely. If you have a keyboard for each student you can follow the same ideas listed below.
If this is your first time teaching piano in groups you will need to remember to be very organized until the flow of the activities are a part of your teaching DNA and then you will find that it will be easier to make changes.
Here is a suggestion of a lesson plan for your first group piano lesson:
Method Book – Piano Pronto Prelude (or any beginning piano method you prefer). If you choose Prelude I highly recommend purchasing the ebook for each student and the teacher duet book for you. Purchasing ebooks for the students allows you to have control of the pace of the class. Print each book which you have purchased separately and keep each in its own manila envelope. Each student should also have a 3 ring binder and at the beginning of each class you add only the pieces that you have planned for your lesson. (I learned this brilliant idea from Mayron Cole 20+ years ago!)
Piano worksheets (such as those from www.funandlearnmusic.com)
Instrument – One acoustic piano or digital keyboard for each student.
Other – pencils, table and chairs for students or rug space.
At The Rug/Table (5-6 min) – Greet students as they enter the classroom and direct them to a spot on the rug or at a table which has their binder with the pieces to be learned at this first lesson, I suggest pages 1 – 11. (If using individual keyboards take this time to assign them a keyboard and show them how to turn it on/off and to control the volume.
At The Piano Keyboard (10 min) – 2 and 3 black keys (p. 1 and bottom of p. 7) at this point the students are not using their books. You are teaching this introduction as you normally do. Before moving to the next step make sure they can find C on their own. Any C. Before moving on to the next activity have students find a C and play it as you accompany them with a duet (you can use duet for My First Steps or make up your own)
Game Time (15 min) – Use any game board you have to review the 2 and 3 black keys, and for introducing Rhythm on page 3 (note values). Allow everyone to answer questions as a group, then let everyone roll the die individually and advance on the game board – this should help keep the flow of the game moving along.
At The Piano Keyboard (5 min) – Now go back to the piano, review where to find C and possibly add D and E so that you can teach them how to play the first three songs. Don’t be too concerned about them playing specific keys with specific fingers. That will be learned next week!
Individual Practice at the Piano Keyboard (7-10 min) – If you only have one acoustic piano take this time to work with each student individually. Students not working with you go back to the rug/table and complete the worksheets you prepared. However, even if each child is working at his/her keyboard with headphones on, this is when you make sure each one understands how to play at least one of the pieces assigned. Each student will probably finish at different intervals and can then complete the worksheets at the rug/table.
Rhythm Ensemble – (5-7 min) this part of the lesson is a flexible time that may include drumming, dancing, movement stories or playing the piano out loud as an orchestra. For this first lesson I would recommend a fun activity such as Rhythm Cup Explorations.
Parent Time – (10 min) I invite parents to join the last 10 minutes of class so they are aware of what the student learned and mark the assignment for next week. No assignment book is necessary if you hand out a different colored pencil each week and have the parents circle the page numbers.
And there it is! Your first group piano lesson! Each part of the lesson and the materials may be substituted, and at the same time each part must remain for at least 4 weeks in order to establish a routine of excellence for your class.
Questions? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Disclaimer – any links mentioned in this post were used because of the success I have had with the product in my studio. I am not being paid to use this materials in my studio.
Dorla Pryce Aparicio, M.M., (or MissDorla, as her students affectionately call her) has been teaching early childhood music, private and group piano for more than 30 years. She received her undergraduate degree in Piano Performance at the University of Montemorelos in Mexico and a Master of Music degree in Piano Pedagogy from Texas Christian University in Fort Worth, Texas.
After six years as Early Childhood Music Coordinator at TCU’s Music Preparatory Division she continues to maintain a full teaching schedule with over 50 students in her private studio, and as adjunct music instructor at Southwestern Adventist University in Keene, Texas.
MissDorla is a member of MTNA AND NGPT and enjoys networking with other music teachers around the country. She is married to Jose, who attends every recital with a smile. Together, they have one son, who is also one of her star piano students. Dorla has also started a middle school that caters to families who desire a more friendly and academically rigorous environment.