Changing to Group Piano Teaching:
A Report After the First Two Years

By M.Smith
(This article originally appeared in the Spring 1997 “Muse News”©, Vol. 7, No. 1, page 3)

Teaching private piano lessons for over twenty years had not only been a great career but a wonderful blessing as I have been able to have an influence in the musical development of many young people. However, it had become increasingly difficult for me to keep busy students motivated to practice and show up prepared for their piano lessons. I read an article about a group piano teaching method that claimed to be very successful at keeping students motivated and challenged on a long-term basis. Soon after reading about this, I met a teacher in my own town who was using this method, and she allowed me to visit her studio and examine the teaching material. That's the first time that I saw Mayron Cole's music program, and I was excited about what I saw. I really liked the concepts of group piano teaching: student companionship, better lesson preparation, and student enthusiasm. With my husband's full support, I decided to price keyboards before venturing any further in the group piano teaching direction. Then, I called Mayron and signed up for one of her summer certification seminars.

When I arrived at the conference, I was 95% sure that group piano teaching was what I wanted to do. After Mayron finished teaching only one portion of the seminar, I was 100% convinced--I was ready to go into group piano teaching in a big way! I came home from the seminar very excited and motivated to make a positive change in my piano teaching. I bought five electronic pianos and a sequencer. For those who are interest in cost, I spent approximately $6,000 for equipment. This does not include the cost of the seminar, books, or remodeling my garage for a group piano studio. Teachers can "get started" for much less, but I purchased quality equipment that would last. The good news is, I pad off the $6,000 debt in only three months! Now I teach only seventeen hours per week, and my student enrollment has increased from thirty private lesson students to fifty-eight group piano students. I raised my rates because group lessons take more preparation time and energy to teach than private piano lessons.

After two years of teaching group piano, I have some interesting facts I'd like to share with you. Two years ago in September, I was able to conduct an impartial test on group piano teaching versus private piano teaching. At the time, I was teaching private piano lessons at a conservatory and group piano lessons in my home studio. By November, I found that the privately taught students at the conservatory were coming to their lessons mostly unprepared (with 1001 excuses that all teachers hear!) and were advancing slowly. Those taking group piano lessons were consistently better prepared and were much further ahead in their music. Both types of students were being taught the same level of The Mayron Cole Piano Method, and both types of students were the same ages and from the same social/economic background. By the end of November, I decided that my private piano students would benefit from group lessons as well. In January of last year, ALL of my students were in group piano lessons and loving it! Parents regularly take me aside to share their amazement at the progress of their children and comment on how much more they seem to enjoy practicing. I am convinced that group piano is a very important part of music education!

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