Are you new to teaching group lessons? If you’re nervous about scheduling your first group lesson, you’re not alone. I found it to be very intimidating, not only getting all the students together at one time, but keeping them focused on what I wanted them to do.
So how do you know if group lessons are right for you?
The only way to delve into group lessons is to just do it. You don’t necessarily need a whole program, or to sign up 6 kids for 8 weeks. Let’s start small.
Work With Who You Have.
I’m going to assume you have at least 5 students that are in grade school right now. Find a time in the next month to get them together! This doesn’t have to be a super formal event. Print out a bunch of piano games (check out susanparadis.com), get a version of rhythm cups from Wendy Stevens, and plan to spend a half an hour getting everyone to work together. Even if there’s a big age gap, that’s ok. Sometimes the older students like helping the younger students.
I Want To Help You Get Started.
To help you start a bit, I’ve put together a lesson plan for beginning students that are 5-7. You can see it below. If you’d like a printable version, you can get that here.
Beginner Group Lesson Sample Format
This is for your very first group lesson experience. I’d recommend doing this with beginners, 5-7 years old. It will be easier for you if they’ve had a few piano lessons already, but you can do these activities with any beginning student in that age range. You’ll want at least three students to start.
Materials: a piano, a whiteboard, playdoh, flashcards (quarter note, half note, whole note). Optional – Flashcards with animals on them, or stuffed animals.
5:00-5:05 – Spend about five minutes talking about the piano. Have each student show the others a different part of the piano – white keys, black keys, and the pedals. Then I’d have a race – see who can play every black key from bottom to top the fastest without skipping any.
5:05-5:12 – Talk about loud sounds and soft sounds. Have them name loud animals and imitate them. If you have a whiteboard, you can have each student draw an animal. Then, have them each tell you an animal that is quiet. Play some loud and soft sounds on the piano, have them tell you loudly if they’re loud, or softly if they’re soft. Then let each student come up and try playing some notes loud and soft.
5:12-5:15 – Sing a simple song with hand motions together. Some ideas are Wheels On The Bus (here you can also review loud and soft sounds…), Itsy Bitsy Spider, or Where Is Thumbkin.
5:15-5:25 – Time to break out the playdoh and the flashcards. Hand each student a little cup of playdoh and a flashcard with a whole note on it. Tell them about a whole note, how they hold it for four beats, and show them how to make one with playdoh. Then pass out the half note cards, ask them what the difference is, tell them how that note is shorter, and show them how to turn their whole note into a half note (add a stem). If you have time and they are still engaged, do the quarter note too.
5:25-5:32 – Go back to the piano. Show the students the difference between high sounds and low sounds. If you have any flash cards with animals or objects that fit this concept, you can use them here. (Rain, thunder, trucks, birds, bears, bees, babies.) You can also use stuffed animals to place on the piano. Have each student take turns either placing the items/animals high or low according to the sounds they make, or playing high or low sounds on the piano themselves.
5:32-5:45 – Play a game of simon says to review everything you told them. High/low sounds, loud/soft sounds, black/white keys. You can also have them touch their eyes/ears/hands/elbows/toes, or the bench, the piano pedals. If you have time, let them each take a turn being “simon” and giving the commands.
I always have a few extra activities just in case I move through things too fast.
Bonus activity – For this one, play a quick game of matching with the music note flashcards.
Bonus activity #2 – Have the students close their eyes while you play high/low notes. They need to reach up high for high notes, and touch their toes for low notes. But no peeking until they move high or low, then they can see what everyone else did.
If you like this lesson plan, you can get a printable pdf version here:
You Never Know Until You Try.
Maybe you hold your first group class and it’s a little chaotic. Maybe your first class is a dream and you can’t imagine teaching any other way. Wherever you land on this spectrum, try giving a beginning group class a few times before buying into a program and committing, or giving up on it completely.
If you want to learn more about different types of group piano lessons, check out my last blog post, where I discuss three types of group lessons and share some great teaching resources.
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If you try my sample group lesson plan, let me know how it goes!