The perfect gift for YOU and your students


Guest post by Marie Lee casts group lessons in a new light--as a gift to you--perhaps a much-needed change in your current situation? Marie's been at group piano teaching for a while and definitely knows the inside scoop on teaching groups.Read through her list of group options and consider which one will reboot and upgrade your studio in 2019!

Make sure to read to the end to learn about three resources (on sale!) that will equip you to transition to group teaching with ease including Marie Lee's popular Group Teaching Blueprint.


There’s a lot of talk on Facebook right now with teachers asking for ideas to find the perfect gift for their students this year. I’ve seen photos of beautiful handmade ornaments, personalized picture frames, handmade Christmas cards and yummy treats.

But what about a gift that could keep on giving for years?

A gift that is social, incorporates prime learning and discovery. A gift that builds performing skills, confidence and community.

And what about the perfect gift for you, the teacher?

A gift that reignites your passion for music and energizes your teaching. A gift that brings in additional income without bringing on extra students. A gift that sets you apart as a teacher in your community.

Group learning could be that perfect gift for both YOU and your students!

While you’ve most likely heard the benefits of group teaching, you may not be feeling the need to shake up your studio and convert all of your students to group classes.

Are there any other group scenarios out there that could still bring in the benefits of group learning while keeping your studio at a place that’s comfortable for you right now?

Group Teaching can have a myriad of combinations and outcomes. Check out the ten groupings below to see what resonates with you.

Ten Group Teaching Options


#1: Partner or semi private lessons

While one student is working with you at the bench, another is off the bench drilling theory concepts with the help of iPad apps, completing written assignments, practicing for an upcoming performance or getting inspired with videos and music.

Learn more here.

#2: 20/20/20 lessons

20-minute, one-on-one lesson with teacher, 20-minute shared theory game time with a partner, 20-minute lab time on an iPad/computer with headphones or practice time on keyboard.

#3: Weekly group AND private lessons with multiple teachers

Offer the best of both worlds and schedule a group and private lesson for each student. While group lessons introduce and reinforce concepts, private lessons address individual student technical and repertoire needs. The University of Denver's Piano Preparatory Program includes this format so that the graduate students get experience in teaching in group and private lessons. Because there are more teachers, it's not difficult to find private lesson times for each student. This is a terrific set up if you are looking to train and groom teachers to work in your studio.

#4: Seasonal group classes, piano parties, masterclasses, summer camps


Bring in a guest instructor for a Saturday masterclass, offer seasonal piano parties with holiday themed activities and student performances. It's a cool way for students to get to know other piano-playing friends while they have fun playing themed theory games and music. Option #9 below has some ideas for summer class ideas -- also consider spring or winter breaks as great times for classes/camps.

Find ideas here...

Fun piano camp themes and games by Tracy Selle and Sara Campbell

Best piano games for group lessons by Heather Nanney

Have a Ball at Group Lessons by Leila Viss

#5: Monthly group classes (Weeks 1-3: one-on-one lessons, Week 4: group class)


This is the option I tried 14 years ago when I was first considering making the switch from on-on-one lessons to group. I wanted to test it out on myself to see if I was capable of teaching a group, how much preparation time it entailed, and how the students responded. I incorporated this schedule for almost 6 months before I made the switch.

Even if you don’t switch entirely, a monthly group class gives students a chance to perform for each other, play theory games, and play duets with each other. This class doesn’t have to be age or level-based so it's easy to schedule. Another nice perk is that this group class takes the place of private lesson that week, giving the teacher a few extra hours that week.

#6: Weekly group classes

Most of my 150 students are in 45-minute weekly group classes (mainly piano students, but we also have guitar, rock band and voice.)

For our most advanced students, we also offer Option #5 above, one-on-one weekly lessons with a monthly group class. Group classes are so popular that we even have a few high school seniors that don’t have time to commit to a weekly private lesson but they pay tuition to come to the monthly group class. This is an important circle of friends that they’ve grown up with and don’t want to give up.

Take a peek at what's going on at my school here...

#7: Weekly group class and private lessons with one teacher

The best of both worlds -- the individual attention of a private lesson along with the benefits of a group class--is only for the most committed and dedicated student as it requires 2 hours of lessons each week. Parents need to be ready for the higher monthly tuition rate. Lynette Cook, former NMTA president in Las Vegas is doing this in her own studio with huge success.

Check out Lynette's website to get an idea of how she runs her program.


#8: Ensemble performance team add-on class

This is a great way to add extra value to your studio. Offer an “invitation only” performance team class with matching t-shirts or costumes to set them apart. These groups prepare ensembles for local festivals, studio recitals or other performances. This is another great retention tool because younger students will want to work hard to be invited to this elite team.

Check out these videos of elite teams...

Video of pre-teen boys playing Agent 003 and Who’s Next

#9: Pop tunes (or other genre focus), composition, bucket drumming, body percussion, recorder add-on class

Like most teachers, there’s never enough time to teach everything you want. How about a themed class to energize you and your students! This might be just what a struggling student needs to stay interested. This option also works well for summer classes when you don’t have a lot of deadlines and students have more free time.

Consider using these 88PK resources ON SALE!

Bucket Drumming

Top Hits Recorder Fun

Be Cool and Play the Blues

#10: New beginners/first years only in group, transition to one-on-one lessons as they advance or as you have openings


If you’re wanting a gradual start into group teaching, or don’t want the stress of convincing your current families to convert to classes, consider bringing in all new beginners as group students. Group classes are a wonderful retention tool for new beginners as they love the social dynamic of making music with their friends.

Do you have any other group combinations we haven’t listed here?

Mention them in the comments below and we’d love to share your ideas in an upcoming blog post.


Don't miss these three 88PK must-have resources for your 2019 studio plans on sale until December 16, 2018!



Additional Resources

Teaching Piano in Groups by Christopher Fisher, 101 Ideas for Piano Group Class by Mary Ann Froehlich,

Marie Lee is a good friend, colleague, co-author and frequent blogger here at 88PK. Read her cool story of how she morphed into a wildly successful group piano teacher here.