Sunday, June 25, 2017

New Piano Lesson Format


I've been wanting to add a Technology/Theory Lab to my piano lessons for awhile now.  Instead of coming for a 30 minute private lesson, students would come for an hour session back-to-back with another student.  While pondering how to do all of this, I ran across a few other piano teachers discussing a 20/20/20 Rotating format that really caught my interest.  Instead of two students an hour, three students come for the one hour slot and rotate between three different 20 minute stations.

This seemed like a great fit for my students, so I decided to launch this with my studio this summer.   I was personally worried about my students working for 30 minutes independently when the other student had a private lesson.  With the 20 minute sessions, though, most of my students are able to stay on task for 20 minutes by themselves.  Some of my youngest students need a little more direction during the individual time, but most are actually thriving in this type of lesson.

Here's what I'm doing for my lessons:

  1. 20 minutes private lesson with me on the piano.
  2. 20 minutes piano technology on my Electronic Piano with Piano Maestro.  (I sometimes have to plug kids into another app, as my internet service runs out after so many students in a day)
  3. 20 minutes of piano theory time at a small folding table.  This is the part that takes me some time to put together, and I'm going to share in a later posting what I've been doing for this 20 minutes.
Overall, my students and I are loving this format!  This last year, I've really struggled fitting theory into lessons.  I teach theory alongside their pieces, but I just hadn't found my groove for adding a formal assignments into my lessons, and still keep it fun.  I personally, don't like all the chaos of having 5 different books to work out of.   With this new 20 minute rotation of theory games and worksheets, my students can't wait for theory!!  When I ask them what their favorite part is, they say theory!   

The piano technology session has parents really excited, because their kids want to work on Piano Maestro and try to advance in lessons.  I think students may lose interest in this at some point, but I love that it is reinforcing their practice sessions.  

Overall, as a teacher, I feel like I'm able to offer much more rounded lessons for my students.  I have had a couple of kids comment that I like the new sessions, so I don't have to teach so much, but I have quickly refuted that with an explanation about how much time I put into that theory time before they get there and that I am teaching the entire hour.  

I scheduled 19 students this summer for my 20/20/20 Rotating Lessons.   I didn't think I was going to have so many students, and had scheduled everyone on the same day!  I figured I'd make it through for my 6 summer lessons with barely my sanity intact, but I actually haven't felt as stressed about it as I thought!  I teach all 19 students from 10am-6:30pm with two half hour breaks for lunch and dinner. I'm tired, but not beyond stressed, like I was sometimes when I had 30 minute private lessons only.  I think this can be attributed to the fact that I everything is moving so fast that I don't have time to feel frustration with any one station, and neither do my students.

I will be continuing on with this format in the fall, for sure!  For Preschool students I am continuing on in 30 minute private sessions, as they need help doing the other parts, but I will be supplementing their lessons with both the technology and the theory activities during their lessons. Stay tuned for more information about how I am running my 20/20/20 sessions.