A Perfect Recipe for Hybrid Piano Group Lesson Plan
by Charlene Zundel Shelzi
As a reminder, in my last post called “Start Giving Super-charged Hybrid Group Lessons,” I defined Hybrid Piano Teaching as a teaching style that includes both private lessons and group musicianship classes. So, now you’ve made the switch and survived the scheduling process……now, what to do for those piano group lesson plans?
How to structure your Hybrid Piano Group Lesson Plan:
First, congratulations on trying something new! This can be rewarding for both you and your students. Outlined below is more detail on how I structure my group Classes:
- Review a theory concept with an activity or game
To encourage students to arrive on time, I always have a game or activity prepared. This could be as simple as a rhythm card on the door for them to knock to enter or asking for a password to get it: “state the subdominant of the F Major scale” for a more advanced class or “state the 3rd of the B Major 5 finger pattern” for a younger class.
- Students Perform
Since my students have no private lessons the week of Group lessons, I require all of my students to be prepared to perform for their group. This encourages them to practice that week. The week prior to group, I assign each student at least one piece (or portion of a piece) and one technic exercise to play for their group.
To inspire active listening to the performer, I like to assign each listener in the group something specific to watch or listen for. Here are some suggestions: correct notes, rhythm, hand position, dynamics, articulation, etc. With each new performer, I change skills for the audience to listen/watch for. After each performance, the group discusses the performance. I ask each listener to have a positive comment and then a suggestion on what can be improved; always being mindful that they will be performing and to remember to give their suggestions in a kind manner. Wendy has some performance class worksheets that can be used to help students listen for specific things during another student’s performance.
- Ear Training
Because Ear-Training is an ongoing skill that requires a lot of practice, I always include at least one activity to reinforce listening in my group lesson:
If I have a young group, we may be focusing on ascending/descending. One activity could be to have students climb up and down stairs while listening to pitches ascending and descending.
For an older group working on intervals, one of my favorite activities involves making large interval cards (one interval written on each 8 ½ by 11 page) of interval they know, P1, M2, M3, P4, P5, M6, M7, P8. I would spread them out all over the floor. Students stand in a line. I play an interval, then the students race to stand on the interval card.
Other wonderful listening activities can be played using our Kreative Keyboard. There are multiple games from beginning to advanced for students to mark what they hear on either the keyboard or staff side of the Kreative Keyboard.
- Teach/Review a new theory concept
Since I know where my students are in their theory books, which we study in our private lessons, during Group lessons I can teach a concept to several students at one time. I also encourage students to teach concepts to the class as well.
Reinforce concepts with Games, Games, Games!
We are most famous for our games. Wow, and do they work! Here are some of our best sellers for students found on our game page or buy them at SheetMusicPlus.
- The Kreative Keyboard (26 games of all types and levels)
- Wacky Wanda (note spelling)
- Musical Spoons (Notes, Key Signatures, Triads)
- Scale Scramble (scales; all kinds or 5 finger patterns)
- Low Key (Key Signatures)
- Primary Pounce (Primary Chords)
- Screamin’ Match (Terms and symbols)
The Teacher Guides that accompany each Theory book are loaded with “Cranky Hints” which are fun activities to reinforce multiple concepts. Found here at the TCW Teaching Supplies Page.
Remember these simple guidelines when preparing your piano group lesson plan:
- Make the group class FUN!!! Students may not remember what you say, but they will remember how they feel. If they have fun and learn at the same time, they will want to come back. Putting together a piano group lesson plan will make this fun and easy for everyone in the class!
- Be Flexible. Always prepare more activities than you expect to use. This way if the class isn’t responding your original piano group lesson plan, you have multiple options.
- Run a “Tight Ship”…. consistently have control of your class. I regulate classroom behavior using music money. I pay for positive behavior, (raising hands, taking turns, giving positive comments, being on time, listening to instructions, etc.) Students can then spend their money at the end of the term in a “music auction” or at my music money store in my studio.
Charlene Zundel Shelzi is an independent piano teacher located in Scottsdale, Arizona. Charlene studied at BYU Idaho and Utah State University with Gary Amano. She’s a former faculty member of the USU Youth Conservatory. She develops piano teaching materials with TCW Resources (Three Cranky Women) published through the Neil A. Kjos music company. She directed the 1st Arizona Youth Piano Competition and was recently chosen as the Featured Teacher for Yamaha’s Passport to Music program.
Visit the TCW YouTube Channel for samples of Charlene’s amazing games and resources!