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Beginner piano group #2940202 01/29/20 11:09 AM
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mostlystrings Offline OP
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Ack! My (not piano) student wants to do a piano group class and I immediately thought of this forum's strong distaste for that kind of thing. Age 8-13 beginners, reading music and playing simple melodies, last half hour of the 2-hour class will apparently be organized as a choir, likely for the purpose of having something more musically satisfying than beginner method book content.

If my student were highly ambitious/motivated about piano, I would definitely push private lessons (not with me), but they are really just looking for something to do and the price, location, and schedule are right. I told them if the class turns out to be redundant or useless, at least we'll find what it was good or not good for, for when the next person is interested. (They previously had a good experience with an academic subject class; these are run by a local college in the community learning division.)

Is this what you term a "kiddie music program that irreparably damages beginner children for when they start learning piano 'for real'"? Of course I don't know what's in the class exactly but it surely can't be deeper than what I could (hypothetically) handle as a multi-instrument musician teaching piano as a child's second instrument. I'll have no student of mine needing severe remediation when moving on from me.

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Re: Beginner piano group [Re: mostlystrings] #2940313 01/29/20 03:06 PM
Joined: Aug 2007
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AZNpiano Offline
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What book are you going to use?

Just be realistic about outcomes and don't set your expectations too high.


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Re: Beginner piano group [Re: mostlystrings] #2940325 01/29/20 03:43 PM
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mostlystrings Offline OP
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Sorry, I was unclear. I'm not starting a class and meant that the student wants to join one run by the local college. We'll find out after she goes what book they are using. I told the parent that whatever musical content the class is covering is most likely stuff I'm already teaching or can teach. They have seen "real piano playing" (from well-taught students and our ensemble class pianist who is a pro/teacher) so I did warn them to be realistic about what they would get from the class.

If they ended up wanting "real piano lessons" in the future, it doesn't seem to me that a few months in a group would be any more detrimental than what she has already been doing (experimenting on her own and reading via another instrument). Perhaps I don't know though because I've never worked with anyone who came out of group piano.

Re: Beginner piano group [Re: mostlystrings] #2940327 01/29/20 03:58 PM
Joined: Aug 2007
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AZNpiano Offline
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There are good programs, bad programs, and awful programs. You can't tell unless you actually sit in and observe the stuff going on, or get a student who came out of the program.

Awful programs can damage the students beyond fixing. One such transfer has been with me over 2 years, and there are still things I need to fix, and "middle C position" problems still occasionally creep into her playing. Meanwhile, the boy who started lessons from scratch with me, who came to me six months after the girl, is already WAY past her, because there is nothing to correct and undo.

Time and money (and my sanity!) saved.


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Re: Beginner piano group [Re: mostlystrings] #2940357 01/29/20 05:33 PM
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Mr Moto Offline
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I can only speak not as a piano teacher but as a guitar and bass teacher. Over the years I received a few who had 'learned' in group lessons. In my opinion it was a shame what happened to them. None of them could read music nor did they know the neck of the guitar. Breaking old habits was nearly impossible unless the student was highly motivated. Years ago I took piano lessons and later realized the piano is the bedrock of music. Private lessons are absolutely the way to go.

Re: Beginner piano group [Re: mostlystrings] #2940412 01/29/20 10:04 PM
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mostlystrings Offline OP
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Hmm okay, they know that I'm curious and will ask my student to report back. If there's something weird, I'll point it out. Some of my students do take private piano separately and I don't interfere with that* but a group class is fair game, I think.

*Except one time, I was working with two students on the Bach-Gounod Ave Maria. Both study both violin and piano but in this case, one was playing the Bach Prelude from an edition without the Schwencke measure and said that the piano teacher had said a certain thing. I forgot exactly what but it made no sense. For the sake of the music, I had to say, sorry, overruling your teacher, do it my way.

Even when I take transfer students with prior private lesson experience, it still takes at least a year before it feels like they are "my" student. It's almost easier with a "transfer" from group because I can say we're starting over, whereas with transfer from private, I have to at least acknowledge where they are (where they think they are) while going through all the stuff they missed because they didn't start with me. Differences between instruments, I suppose.


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