Group Dynamics

In my piano studio, group lesson weeks are scheduled every 2 or 3 months within the school year (August-May). These lessons are an integral part of my teaching style and students (and I ) look forward to a new format. A crucial part of being a musician is the ability to perform so, the first objective of the group lesson is performance experience. Time is spent coaching the performer on the etiquette and preparation in making a successful performance. Time is also spent training each group participant to practice active listening.

In a past group lesson, a sheet was distributed that prompted listening to specific elements of each performer's piece. However, it seemed the audience members were more interested in playing the "critical" teacher role--finding fault with the details of the performance. I noticed the mood slid into the side of negativity and defensiveness--nothing to promote a safe environment for performers.

So in a recent group lesson highlighting the importance of dynamics, students were asked to listen to each performance (with no book or prompt sheet for reference) and determine if a change in dynamics occurred in each performance. If so, all listeners and the performer were given $50! That is $50 in Music Money--one of my favorite motivational tools. Performers and listeners were all on the SAME team. Each performer was extremely sensitive to projecting all dynamics and listeners were very motivated to listen for ANY variance in dynamics. Ahhh...everyone happy AND rich!