by Dr. Julie Knerr

One of my interests is in teaching piano to children in groups. Over the years, Katie Fisher and I have used many formats.
– Katie has taught small groups of 4-6 children in a one hour class format with part of the time as a group doing musicianship activities and previewing pieces and the rest of the time as a partner lesson (with pedagogy students teaching) to work on pieces. I am currently teaching a class of this type too.
– Katie has also taught partner lessons for years, which makes for great duo piano partners!
– I taught a class where the children came once a week for a 45 minute group musicianship class (with pedagogy students observing, helping, and eventually teaching in pairs), and they came another time in the week for a 45-60 minute partner/private lesson mixture (to learn pieces). I prefer this format over any other for beginners. I would start them as partners for the whole lesson time, and then as one student invariably moved faster than the other, we would move to a 20 private, 20 partner, 20 private for the other student format. Or even 25/10/25 split.
– I have also taught musicianship group classes once a week and had the students come for a private lesson at another time in the week. These have been relatively homogeneous levels/ages and also varied levels/ages (which did not work as well).
– And I have taught twice monthly group performance classes for mixed ages and levels, where the students came and played, we ate cookies, I played, and we improvised or played more pieces, and sometimes had a theory game. All students in the studio were invited, and I did not worry about who came and who did not. It was a free extra class that they either took advantage of or did not. Students came whenever they could. This works well for teachers who do not want to have group class every day (because of our epidemic of seriously overscheduled children!)
– If I had my way, the children would come for group class every day (first or second year students) and I would have a practice room setup. So it would be supervised practice/lesson/performance time/musicianship activity time that could vary depending on the needs of the students. Hopefully I can try this out in the future.