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Group PLUS private lessons?
#2301244 07/11/14 05:39 PM
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Hi, We have a 5.5 y/o who has been taking JMC group piano lessons for a couple years. He starts JMC 4 in September. I would like to keep him in the group class because he likes it and he likes the other kids (and we like the other kids and the other parents).

But, I am beginning to think that he needs some more personal attention. Do you think that I could find a piano teacher to come to the house to give him private lessons using just the lessons/pieces he is getting at his group class? Do you think many piano teachers would mind sort of being second fiddle to the group piano teacher and following her lead as far as what our son would be practicing?

I am imagining finding some bubbly/enthusiastic teacher to come give him a lesson the day after his group lesson, so that the rest of the week he can practice the most effectively.

And if you have any leads for me, we are in the Tyson's Corner, VA area. Thanks!

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Re: Group PLUS private lessons?
WCSdancer #2301296 07/11/14 07:46 PM
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Why not ask the JMC group teacher?
(I don't know what JMC means.)


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Re: Group PLUS private lessons?
WCSdancer #2301304 07/11/14 08:44 PM
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Not a bad idea, I will ask her. JMC = Yamaha Junior Music Course

Re: Group PLUS private lessons?
WCSdancer #2301592 07/12/14 04:23 PM
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A private teacher will most likely not be familiar with the Yamaha course and will insist on using his/her own preferred method books. Most private teachers don't understand the philosophy of Yamaha and other 'ear before eye' piano programs and won't know how to properly supplement what your child is doing in the group setting. Private lessons are more 'repertoire based', meaning students typically have a lesson book, technique book, performance or solo book, and maybe other supplemental books such as theory/sight reading. Students in private lessons spend most if not all of their lesson time sitting at the piano. This is very different from what your child has been doing in Yamaha, which includes singing, movement, ear training, ensembles, etc... Also, if I'm not mistaken, Yamaha is still solfege-based; students learn the staff notes as DO, RE, MI and not C-D-E (which is what virtually every piano method on the market today is based upon). A private teacher will want to switch over to letter names because they've never taught solfege; although if you find a teacher who comes from a country where solfege is the common musical language (an Asian or Russian teacher), they may be willing to keep the solfege reading.

You might ask your Yamaha teacher to maybe suggest extra sheet music handouts for your child to work on, if you feel the he could use more repertoire pieces. You could also see if they'll move him up to another class that's a bit further in the curriculum (perhaps supplementing him with a few private lessons to catch him up).

The mistake parents who have kids in Yamaha, Harmony Road, or MYC sometimes make is that they compare what their child is doing in their group class with other parents whose kids take private lessons and find that the private kids are working on 4-6 songs each week and have more books to work in. However, your child is actually learning things in his group class that private lesson kids his age will never get in their lesson: singing, solfege, rhythm and keyboard ensembles, ear training games, singing harmony, and eventually composing. Plus, as you said, he loves the class and the kids. I wouldn't hurry towards private lessons right now... he's only 5.5. The foundation he's getting in Yamaha will make private lessons SO much better and make him an awesome musician.


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Re: Group PLUS private lessons?
dumdumdiddle #2301616 07/12/14 05:52 PM
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Hi Dumdumdiddle,

That is the part I am worried about. I don't have any interest in a private teacher that wants to introduce anything additional. The homework from JMC is already more than we can handle. But I do think that we could use a private teacher to remind our son to use the tips of his fingers, instead of using them like planks, and any other bad habits, and who is FUN. I am imagining a bouncy Mary Poppins kind of teacher...

Re: Group PLUS private lessons?
WCSdancer #2301701 07/12/14 11:13 PM
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You should ask the JMC teacher if she (or someone else there) would also do private lessons in combination with the group class; maybe just one lesson every other week; maybe only a 15 min lesson at that. Let her know you're not trying to push your child to do more but would just like a little more reinforcement on the technique.

I actually have a student right now who is in a HR group class but is SO far ahead of everyone in what she CAN do, although I make sure she doesn't go ahead in the curriculum. I work with her on a regular basis in a private setting on extra material not done in class. I don't do with everyone; she's the only one.


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Re: Group PLUS private lessons?
WCSdancer #2301732 07/13/14 01:05 AM
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Originally Posted by WCSdancer
Hi Dumdumdiddle,

That is the part I am worried about. I don't have any interest in a private teacher that wants to introduce anything additional. The homework from JMC is already more than we can handle. But I do think that we could use a private teacher to remind our son to use the tips of his fingers, instead of using them like planks, and any other bad habits, and who is FUN. I am imagining a bouncy Mary Poppins kind of teacher...

I think your money will be better spent somewhere else. How about an art class? Or swimming?


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Re: Group PLUS private lessons?
WCSdancer #2301744 07/13/14 01:55 AM
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Our situation is a little different since DD takes private lessons but I hired a teenage girl who's been studying piano for 12 years to come to our house to spend a few hours each week. DD loves having this girl over so it adds a layer of excitement I cannot provide. This girl has been volunteering as a teacher's assistance at her school and ballet school with little kids so she knows how to teach young children, which is a big plus. Since you're looking for someone to keep a watchful eye to reinforce good habits rather than someone to teach new materials, a similar arrangement might work for you.

Re: Group PLUS private lessons?
littlebirdblue #2301992 07/13/14 08:29 PM
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That sounds excellent Littlebirdblue. How did you find the teacher's assistant? Wish we lived near you...

Re: Group PLUS private lessons?
WCSdancer #2302074 07/14/14 01:51 AM
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I've known her for 13+ years so that made it easier but if I didn't know anyone, I'd have contacted the director of music school housed within a prep school close to us for a referral.

It's working out really well. Once they are done with music practice, they eat lunch together then do a fun art & dance activity. They did foot painting last week and the week before, they made a Swan Lake costume out of toilet paper. Then the "play date" ends with story time with a picture book related to music or dance. It's not something I can hire a real piano teacher to do but for our TA, this job is a lot more fun and looks better on her college application than working at a fast food restaurant or a retail store. She was willing to do this for $5 an hour but we insisted on paying her the minimum wage and provide her with lunch and transportation.

I wish you lived closer by too. Your DS could have joined us. smile


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