Group Teaching Tools I Can't Live Without: Part 1
Have you noticed that group piano teaching is taking the pedagogy world by storm?
Many teachers are beginning to introduce group piano programs to their studios, and group lessons are proving to be deeply rewarding for teachers, students, and families.
I’ve taught group piano for two years now, and in that time I’ve found some incredible resources that have helped me to be successful as a group teacher.
In today’s post (and another coming in a few days), I’m departing from our usual topic of studio websites to share my favorite group teaching resources with you.
Set Yourself Up for Success
One year ago, I moved my entire studio from private lessons to group lessons. I’d begun group teaching the previous year and loved it so much that I decided group teaching was where I wanted to put my entire focus.
As I began to educate myself about moving to a group piano studio, I had endless questions:
How do I talk to studio parents about moving to group lessons?
How do I set up my studio to maximize my space?
Can I teach high school students in groups?
What methods work best with group teaching?
What about students who are beyond method books?
How do I really hook my students on playing music with others?
Those are just a few of the questions that were racing through my mind last spring. Have you had similar questions?
As I searched for answers and solutions, I found some invaluable resources that have made my life as a group piano teacher successful.
Here are my favorites. I hope that you benefit from them as much as I have.
The person who had the most profound influence on my move to group teaching was Marie Lee. Marie is a tremendously successful group piano teacher who owns a thriving studio in Nevada. I first heard Marie when she shared her experience and philosophy on Tim Topham’s podcast and then read her story on Leila Viss's blog (Marie has since been featured in many places).
I was fortunate to talk with Marie on a few occasions. She was kind, patient, and generous with her experience.
But what I was dying to see was Marie’s teaching in action. I wanted to visit her school in Nevada and get a feel for a real group piano studio - and also to sit down across from her and pick her brain!
Marie has just published The Group Teaching Blueprint, a guide to teaching group piano that is the equivalent of that experience.
The Group Teaching Blueprint covers every imaginable topic surrounding group piano, provides links to a wealth of other resources, and answers any question you could possibly ask about group teaching.
Marie also includes photos, marketing examples, schedule and lesson plans, videos of her students in action, and so much more.
If you can only invest in one resource to get your group piano program off the ground, this is it. This is the group piano bible and will be the standard in group teaching resources for many years to come.
#2: 88 Creative Keys
Last year, in talking with Marie about moving my studio to group lessons, she urged me to attend the 88 Creative Keys Workshop in Denver, Colorado. She said it was focused on infusing your teaching with creativity and that everything was highly applicable to group piano.
So I attended 88 Creative Keys last July. I learned from some of the biggest rock stars in the world of creative piano pedagogy: Leila Viss, Bradley Sowash, Tim Topham, and Paul Myatt.
It was one of the greatest investments I’ve ever made in myself as a teacher - particularly as a group piano teacher.
I learned so much about teaching creatively. I learned how to give my students the tools to be creative. My creativity toolbox went from being relatively small to bursting at the seams within a few days, and my students continue to benefit from what I learned.
One of my favorite creativity tools from my time at the 88 Creative Keys Workshop is 4-chord composing. My middle and high school students love to build their own chord progressions, choose a pattern for the bass, and then improvise over the top of it.
4-chord composing is something I would not have had the confidence to teach prior to attending 88 Creative Keys. While I have all of the relevant theory training in my background, I lacked the understanding of how to lead my students from theory comprehension to creating music they could be proud of.
88 Creative Keys connected the dots between my theory background and making music come alive for my students.
I can’t wait to return!
88 Creative Keys also offers online clinics on a wide range of practical, engaging topics. Leila and Bradley inject creativity and energy into everything they offer, and I look to them to help ensure that my teaching is fresh and innovative.
Stay tuned; later this week I’ll share several more resources that I can’t live without in my group studio.
As I’ve talked with many teachers about their websites over the past few months, I’ve heard a number of questions about group teaching. Many of you are intrigued by it - and many of you are starting your own group programs.
What questions do you have about teaching piano in groups? If I don’t know the answer, I am happy to direct you toward a resource that will help.
I look forward to hearing from you!