Group Lessons, Part 2 of 3
By Robin Steinweg
My waiting list had grown, especially with prospective guitar students. What to do? I multiplied my time this summer teaching an 8-week group guitar class (read about my 8-week vocal group here: http://www.musicteachershelper.com/blog/group-lessons/).
Part 2: Group Guitar Class
I’ve seen great success with group guitar classes in the past—this was no exception. Here’s how I went about it. You may have excellent ideas, too. We’d love to read about them, if you’d share them below!
*How many in a group? Six students signed up. I’ve had as few as three and as many as thirteen. I’ve been in larger groups myself, so I’d go up as high as twenty. The toughest part of that is tuning. I have them come early for that.
*What ages? Ten to adult. This group had three children (10+) and three adults. Though I enjoy groups of similar ages, I think the ones with adults and kids together are the most fun. The generations encourage and enrich one another, and the adults tend to remove the need-to-be-cool factor. We can get silly or serious. It makes the youngsters more open to songs of a variety of genres and decades.
*How long are classes? I aimed for forty-five minutes, but we usually ended up going over.
*Materials used? This class was for absolute beginners. I came up with my own instructional materials and compiled appropriate songs, which has given me complete freedom to tweak as I go for the particular group. I also have future group guitar class materials for advanced beginners, intermediate, advanced intermediate, and advanced. I’ve often had students stay with me through all five groups, and then enroll in private lessons.
I present most songs as chord/lyric sheets. I decorate with copyright-free clipart.
Each student must have an acoustic guitar to play. No electrics—I don’t like to mess with cords and amps in a group. I’d get hoarse talking over them!
*Where to hold the class? I’ve taught in my home studio, in my living room, and at two different churches in town, depending on the size of the classes. They all work well.
*Is a group an advantage or a hindrance? There is much to be said for both group and private lessons. But in a group, students encourage each other with how their practice paid off, or even that they haven’t quite got it yet. They spur one another on. A little friendly competition helps, too.
*What if they don’t know the songs? I plan for a lot of review and a lot of repetition. Some songs have so many verses, by the time we’ve sung half of them, they have learned it. Also, I have a portable digital music recorder (this one: http://tascam.com/product/dr-05/), and I record and email students the songs in an MP-3 file. Sometimes I provide youtube links.
I can reach more students with group guitar classes than I can in private lessons alone. I can charge a lower tuition fee per student. My prep time is once for all the students in the class. When the class is over, I can re-use the materials for another beginner class. I have prospective students for further classes or for private lessons, and it’s good promo for my studio, especially if we hold a final mini-recital.
*How Music Teachers Helper helps: MTH keeps track of payments, expenses, it emails reminders to students, birthday greetings, and after the final recital, they can view photos on the web site provided. Such a deal!
What do you think? Is teaching a group guitar class for you? Visit my post on August 27th for more specifics of what I include each week and how I use parodies to personalize the groups.