violin lessons: group in school vs. private?

(39 Posts)
Strix Wed 17-Mar-10 17:13:27

DD has started private violin lessons this term while she waits for her number to come up on the waiting list at school. Surprisingly, she has a space (I thought it would be at least a year). So, I am in a bit of a quandry as to whether we continue with the private arrangement or swap to school group lessons (4 in a group).

DD wants to do it at school. School would be easier because it is one less day of rushing off to an afterschool activity. School is cheaper. But, I wonder about the qualitiy of the tuition and how quickly she will progress. She is doing well with the private teacher. Will I ruin a good thing if we switch to school lessons now?

I am a complete musical novice, so any and all advice most welcome.

We have swapped from school group lessons to private lessons recently. The difference is astounding, she sounds much better now. She was top of the group before and because they had kids of different abilities it was difficult. 20 mins shared between children doesnt go very far for correcting things. She loves her violin and practises every day so it is really nice to see that paying off.

We also swapped because school don't do grade exams and dd would like to do them.

fatsatsuma Wed 17-Mar-10 17:24:20

She will almost certainly make better progress learning 1:1. The violin is one of the hardest instruments for children to learn, and in a group of 4, she will have to learn at the speed of the least musically-able child. If she is making good progress with her current teacher I would suggest staying with that arrangement.

I can sympathize with the fact that learning at school would be much easier in practical terms, but from my own experience I cannot see how any violin teacher could give the same quality of teaching to four children as to one.

30andMerkin Wed 17-Mar-10 17:32:59

IF she wants to learn at school, how about letting her do that during term time, then getting some private lessons during the holidays so she keeps up her skills/can learn some new tricks to impress her friends etc?

I'd have thought having her WANT to do the lessons would be half the battle tbh.

islandofsodor Wed 17-Mar-10 17:37:33

My dh and several friends are peripatetic teachers in schools (not violin but I can counf flute/clarinet/brass/voice amongst my aquantances) and they all say how hard it is to teach group lessons in schools effectively.

Something like Suzuki is different as there is massive parental involvment a structure and the time available but as badkitten says 20 mins or so shared lesson doesn't go far. If the shared lesson is 1 hour long then I would maybe consider the school ones however.

FalafelAtYourFeet Wed 17-Mar-10 17:41:51

I learned with the Suzuki method and although it was good for teaching listening and getting quite impressive results very young, there were massive great gaps in my knowledge wrt sight reading, music theory etc and in the end my parents pulled me out at about age 11 and sent me to a normal teacher and private music theory lessons as well.

Strix Wed 17-Mar-10 19:26:03

Thanks for your rsponses. I am pondering swapping to the group at school and then picking the private lessons back up over the summer. I want to give DD a bit of decision power here because I think if I force her off to private whilst her friends all play together, then that might make her dislike the violin (and me!).

islandofsodor Wed 17-Mar-10 20:17:26

Be aware that many private teachers take a break over the summer themselves. I rarely had piano lessons over the school holidays and dh massively scales down his private teaching then too.

Strix Wed 17-Mar-10 21:13:09

She said previously she was happy to do school hols or skip them -- whichever I preferred.

Do private students tend to move through the grades faster? I ask because one of my hopes is that her music might contribute to an all rounder sort of scholarship for senior school (a long shot, I know) but I read on one private school website that the child would need to be at least at grade 4. How feasible is this?

islandofsodor Wed 17-Mar-10 21:18:06

Yes, you would expect a private student to move through the grades faster. How long are the school lessons and how many in a group.

As a comparison dd does LAMDA exams and enters the local speech & drama festival. Her friends have group lessons at school half an hour per week in a group of 4-5. They do 1 exam a year and also enter the festival and have lessons from September until July.

Dd does hers privately at Stagecoach as it works out cheaper. She has 6 half an hour lessons in the Spring Term only (alternate weeks) and achieves the same result (distinctions so far and last week she won her age group in the festival.

paisleyleaf Wed 17-Mar-10 21:19:45

I was going to say that I'd go for the idea of doing the group in the school and maybe top ups in the holidays etc with 1:1 if you really wanted to.
But then I do think the main thing with music is that you enjoy it.

Strix Wed 17-Mar-10 21:28:44

The lessons at school will be for 30 minutes with three other children.

snorkie Wed 17-Mar-10 21:53:00

My two were lucky enough to have group string lessons in year 4 at school. It was intended as a taster and they didn't really make much progress at all. They both continued with individual lessons in years 5 and 6 and were grade 4 and 2 at senior school music audition time, but I think that rate of progress depends a lot on both natural ability and how much you practice.

If your dd has talent and practices she will outstrip her friends in a group setting very quickly, so if you have a music award in mind I would recommend sticking with the private lessons.

hogshead Wed 17-Mar-10 22:07:47

Hi I learnt the violin in a group session in school and stayed with the local service for many years until i went to the local music college privately (when i reached A level standard). I did get the opportunity to audition for music college but turned it down (for other reasons)

From experience i think local serivces are good as a grounding (but bear in mind my experience is now a good few years back) but I found that the group held me back when i was ready to progress.

If DD showed real promise and talent then i would probably recommend private lessons you get more personal and focused tution.


paisleyleaf Wed 17-Mar-10 22:12:57

I guess it depends on why she wants to play the violin and what she wants to get from playing.
If it's grades and scholarship she thinking about then perhaps she would be happier doing the 1:1

thirtypence Thu 18-Mar-10 08:41:09

If you are thinking scholarship then you would be mad to think that 8 minutes or so of attention will do that. I teach in a school but the parents pay and the ones that want exams, scholarships etc pay the extra for 30 minutes one on one. The ones that "just want them to try it" have a 20 minute shared lesson (2 students) and it's nowhere near enough for any sort of progress - but I make the lessons good fun and about enjoying playing together.

Strix Thu 18-Mar-10 08:50:40

DD and I agreed a compromise this morning. She will start group lessons at school after the break. Go back to private lesson for the summer. And then in August we will decide the way forward for next year.

Her private teacher has told me that DD has a knack for the violin. The lessons began as semi private with a friend, and were divided into private lessons very quickly because DD was learning at a much faster pace. So, I do worry that group lessons at school could hold her back if the others aren't learning as quickly.

But... she is six (almost 7) and she really wants to take violin with her friends during school and have one more free day during the week (there is currently only one day where they don't run off to an activity after school.

Strix Thu 18-Mar-10 09:28:16

Oh no... I just read thirtypence post. Maybe I am mad.... confused

Would it be stupid to do school group lessons and say one private lesson a month to supplement? Or would I end up with two teachers teaching two differnt ways and just confusing DD?

snorkie Thu 18-Mar-10 11:52:41

Yes, more than one teacher at a time is not recommended. Also, it will mean she outpaces the others in her group even faster than she might otherwise.

I think private lessons are likely to be best, but it won't do her any harm to do the group ones for a term either as long as her private teacher who it sounds as though she is getting on well with doesn't feel too messed around. But if the others in her group are complete beginners, she may get a bit fustrated by going back to the start and progressing slowly and conclude herself that the individual lessons are better.

She's only 6, a term of reinforcing the basics won't hurt at all and it's the summer term, so lovely to have an extra evening free to play outside too.

maggiethecat Thu 18-Mar-10 13:15:25

DD has opportunity to play at school in September when she will be 7. She's had almost 2 years of private tuition and I am tempted to let her do it at school for the convenience and fortunately her school has said they would place her in a group according to her abbility so I think she'll be playing with year 4 or 5 children although she'll be in year 3.

I had a good talk with the school violin teacher who said she probably would be challenged in school for a year or 2 but then might need to do private lessons (ie unless there were another 2 or 3 children playing at her level then the school would not allow her 1:1).

I think it will all depend on teacher and the individual child. One child who started at school a year and 2 terms ago has just done grade 1 and got a distinction and will do grade 2 soon (in year 4). A child like this will easily reach grade 4 by the time he leaves primary and could have music considered for scholarship purposes.

It's all a gamble but these are assessments that you will have to make.

marialuisa Thu 18-Mar-10 13:45:46

If you are thinking scholarships then IME she will probably need to be beyond grade 4 standard on violin at 11+ as it is such a popular instrument. DD's school (not London) requires candidates on more commonly played instruments (violin, piano and flute) to be at a higher level than those on more unusual instruments. My top tip would be get her onto the viola ASAP if she has a natural flair for the violin. Grade 5 violin at Y6 is not unusual, grade 5 viola is.

Strix Thu 18-Mar-10 14:07:19

I know I'm going to be laughed at but here goes. What is the difference between a violin and a viola?

snorkie Thu 18-Mar-10 16:09:13

viola is a bit bigger and deeper. Its highest string is the same pitch as the second highest string on a violin and its lowest string (c) is a fifth lower than the violin's lowest string.

snorkie Thu 18-Mar-10 16:15:35

marialuisa is right that viola is rarer, but it's fairly easy to switch between the two and can be done at any time (just involves learning a new clef). My recommendation would be cello. It's between violin and viola in rarety, but it's easier to play (grade 4 cello is easier than grade 4 violin/viola I reckon).

Strix Fri 19-Mar-10 17:34:15

I'm so fickle about this. Everyone I have talked has said stay private. But I hate to go against what DD wants. And, I asked the private teacher her thoughts and she said

"DD is a very talented child and is progressing far quicker than one would expect at her age. Her ability to read music and play at sight is virtually fluent, as she demonstrated in her last lesson. She picks up new ideas very quickly and can intigrate them into her playing within a week. We will be moving onto more complicated music next week, beyond the open strings, again much sooner than my other beginners who started at the same time as DD..."

"...DD is the type of pupil who teachers get very excited about because she has huge potential as a musician and the benefits of one to one attention would allow her to realise that potential at her natural pace."

So, I'd be a moron to pull her out of this arrangement... wouldn't I? Go on, be honest. If would be an idiot to change all of this please tell me so. I'd rather be told I was an idiot than actually execute the plan and prove myself one.

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