At the end of May I gathered my 3 beginner students together for their (and my) first ever group lesson. The students were super excited to get together and weren't quite sure what to expect. Their parents dropped them off with instructions to come back at the end for a mini recital.
Here's an overview of what we did:
We started with several rhythm games, keeping it simple so they could feel confident.
Then we moved to the keyboard and played some more games using the keyboard and some dice and figurines.
Afterward we talked about performance technique and each student had a chance to play all of their pieces for each other. I had to remind them of proper audience technique as well, because they got a little too excited about what they were doing.
Then we played some music bingo until the parents came in. They all got Bingo at the same time!
We called the parents and other siblings back in and invited them to sit and listen. Each student took turns playing one piece at a time. Since there were only three students, I had them each prepare 3 pieces. It was just enough to fill about 10 minutes of time.
When they were all finished, we celebrated with rice crispie treats and lemonade.
If you are thinking of doing a group lesson for your beginners, here's some of the thoughts that informed my decisions:
Group Lesson VS Recital
I decided to do a group lesson instead of a recital because I don't have a lot of students for a full recital and I didn't want to intimidate my beginners. The students and parents loved it, so I think it was a good decision. It also wasn't a lot of extra work for me.
I usually spend part of several lessons before recitals teaching performance technique, but since I had all this time during the group lesson, I decided to use just the group lesson to go over performing. I had them listen to each other and comment on each others performance technique. In the end they didn't remember everything for the final performance, but it was a good start!
All the students had only been studying with me for one year, so I used to games as a way to review everything we had done during the year:
Rhythm: We started with simple rhythm dictation using raindrop cards (shorts) and rainbow cards (longs). I played a short rhythm on the piano and then they had to create it with the cards. Then I let them each take turns creating rhythms. I often had to remind them to keep their rhythms short and manageable!
Musical Alphabet and Keyboard Geography: We played a keyboard race using a big alphabet dice and little plastic figurines. As they rolled the dice they had to find the next key of that name up the piano. The first one to the end of the piano won. In retrospect I think we should have worked from the ends of the keyboard into the middle because they got a little bored halfway through.
Intervals: We played a second keyboard race using another specialty dice to move by unison, 2nds and 3rds. This time I had them choose and end of the keyboard and race to the middle to keep things moving.
Music Bingo: The last game we played was Music Bingo from Susan Paradis's website. A few of the concepts on the bingo cards were a little beyond some of my students, but I allowed them to work together and used it as a way for them to see some new symbols and talk about new concepts.
I found the group lesson was actually very easy to plan because I many games in my repertoire but don't always have time to play them with my students. I was pleased with how it went and plan on doing many more!