Guest post from former Learning Allegro instructor Haleigh Swansen When I was at Learning Allegro, my favorite lessons to teach were to brand new violin students — the people (young and not-so-young) who had no idea how to hold a bow or name the […]
Every now and then, someone asks us whether their child should be in group lessons or private lessons — but believe it or not, the two are really designed to work together. Allow me to explain!
Group lessons and private lessons, as separate entities, both have a LOT to offer. In private lessons, your child gets one-on-one help that is impossible to duplicate in a full classroom. Since a lot of group music is arranged orchestrally, a student in private lessons will also have more exposure to the gorgeous solo pieces written for their instrument.
Group lessons have their perks, too — they tend to be more high-energy and social, which is a huge deal in terms of personal development. They can teach students the importance of listening to the musicians around them, following a conductor, and how to hear different parts within a larger piece of music.
However, both group lessons and private lessons have their limits — which is why we normally encourage people not to isolate one from the other.
When a student’s entire exposure to music is just in private lessons, they miss out on the larger purpose of playing an instrument. Most music is played with other people, not in a vacuum! As such, a life of private lessons without exposure to group work is unrealistic. Since private lessons lack the energy factor of a group lesson, it can also be easy for a child to get bored if that’s his or her only musical outlet. I (Miss Haleigh) started private lessons at the age of three or four, and I didn’t play in a formal group setting until I joined my first orchestra thirteen years later. I can honestly say that I would have been a more enthusiastic student if I’d had the group experience earlier in life.
On the other hand, when a student’s only exposure to music is in group lessons at school, I find that they don’t progress as quickly or as independently. It’s easy to practice when 20 other kids are playing the same thing as you — and honestly, it’s easy to “fake it” and hide your mistakes in that scenario. Private lessons force the student to take ownership of his instrument’s individual voice in a way that group lessons do not. They are a better place to correct bad habits, explore new musical genres, and gain confidence as a soloist. For timid students, private lessons are also a space where they can ask questions without getting embarrassed. There is no social pressure, no peers to impress, and no competition–just the student and the teacher.
Having taught literally hundreds of kids over the last few years, we at Learning Allegro are strong proponents of BOTH group and private lessons. Both are incredible opportunities with unique strengths — and they balance out each other’s weaknesses.
Many public schools treat art and music extracurriculars. In fact, the arts are often defunded before subjects that really are extracurriculars, like sports. Why? In the scheme of global history, we’re really the first era to downplay art education. Our ancestors treated the arts just as […]
IN TODAY’S POST, MISS HALEIGH TACKLES A COMMONLY-ASKED MUSIC QUESTION. One of my favorite parts about working at Learning Allegro is the diversity of the people I encounter every day. Music is one of those rare things that manages to pull people out of every […]
Although most of the lessons we teach at Learning Allegro are one-on-one with students, we get questions from time to time about group classes (which yes, we do teach).
Are there any benefits to putting your child in a group setting to learn an instrument? Absolutely!
Group music classes are a great way to introduce children to music lessons and offer a variety of benefits to young musicians. They allow young learners to develop technical and social skills in an atmosphere that individual lessons can’t duplicate.
We asked the teachers at Learning Allegro to list some of the most common benefits they have observed while teaching group lessons. Here are some of their top answers.
1. Heightened Interest.
When a student takes private lessons, he or she will potentially only learn (and hear) a small portion of the music universe. However, students in group classes are typically exposed to many aspects of music–including different genres, techniques, and the chance to play alongside different instruments. Also, since groups allow for a continuous flow of ideas and dialogue, it’s often easier to keep students focused on what they’re learning!
2. Peer Learning.
Nothing helps us learn faster than teaching someone else! In group classes, students don’t just have the opportunity to learn from the teacher–they often get the opportunity to teach their fellow peers! Some students may be too shy to ask a teacher about a technique, but feel totally comfortable asking a peer to demonstrate. The group dynamic also gives the students chances to see their peers working to use techniques, improve rhythm, and hear notes to improve intonation.
Many students have a competitive approach to learning–which is wonderful when founded in positivity and collaboration! Group classes allow for healthy competition to abound. Also, a competitive spirit will often drive students to practice more and learn faster than they would in private lessons.
Unlike private lessons, students in group classes are constantly performing in front of their peers. Because they are always “performing”, students gain a level of showmanship that is not found in private lessons. This can greatly benefit a musician down the road. Students in group classes are also able to hear their peers learning and struggling with some of the same concepts, which brings a sense of community to some of the more difficult aspects of learning an instrument.
5. Social Competency.
Unlike private lessons, group classes make learning music a social event. Students learn how to take turns, ask questions, play together, and make friends! Students also have the opportunity to learn about their own interests while celebrating the unique interests of their peers.
Having the confidence to perform in front of others, help each other, and ask questions are skills that apply to all aspects of a student’s life. Learning an instrument is wonderful; being able to learn that instrument with a friend is even more fantastic!