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Group vs individual music lessons

(16 Posts)
redskyatnight Thu 25-Apr-13 11:37:26

Just wondered if anyone had any thoughts on the merits of group vs individual music lessons?
9 year old DS has been learning an instrument for 2 years in a group music lesson. Currently (it has varied in the past) he has a 20 minute lesson with 2 others.
The other 2 started at the same time as DS but (based purely on what DS says) it sounds like he is now slightly ahead of them in terms of progress.

I’m in 2 minds. I feel that DS has got to a stage where we are pretty sure that he’s not going to drop the instrument on a whim so perhaps it would be worth swapping to individual lessons to enable him to progress more quickly. DH feels that, although DS evidently enjoys playing, he is not sure that the cost of individual lessons is justified unless he shows a much stronger interest. This is based on the fact that he doesn’t practice unless he is really nagged. ATM DS practices for about 15 minutes, probably 5 times a week. He is reluctant to do more.


Bramshott Thu 25-Apr-13 11:38:38

I'd say that kids will generally progress faster with individual lessons if you can afford them.

Theas18 Thu 25-Apr-13 12:48:14

our experience was that each year the groups were arranged according to ability, and by year 5/6 there was some system were promising kids were given subsidised one to one lessons. Probably grade 2 plus standard?

The problem is that schools now need to fund all of the peri teacher cost themselves and few have any freed up resources they are able to put towards music. It may be better to go for lessons outside school depending on the set up.

20 mininute group lessons for some instruments must be a farce - I'm sure that when the kids started clarinet it'd take most of the time to get them out, set up reeds etc and then put away again. Ditto strings and tuniing..

BreakfastCricket Thu 25-Apr-13 13:07:48

Ditto as Bramshott.

Try to get a handle on whether he has to be nagged because he sometimes can't be bothered practising or find out whether it's because he's pulling away from the others in his lesson and he doesn't want to make the gap further...

Four years of lessons here... three as group and one as individual. Had the opportunity arisen sooner we would have switched in a flash.

AMumInScotland Thu 25-Apr-13 13:41:38

Group lessons are a good way to start, as they are that much cheaper and they give some children an impetus to keep up with (or try to outdo) the others. But if you hope for him to make real progress then you need to switch to individual lessons sooner or later, and a couple of years in is a common sort of time to make that change.

A lot of 9yos need a fair bit of nagging to do their practice, it's up to you whether you feel he wants to do it but is just not a very self-motivated child yet, or if he just isn't that interested in playing music.

Personally, I'd be tempted to try individual lessons for a year and see how it goes - he'll either improve and enjoy it, or can decide that it isn't his thing. The chance to learn an instrument is wonderful, but not everyone is going to carry on with it.

basildonbond Fri 26-Apr-13 06:02:38

Definitely individual lessons

Dd (y5) started piano lessons in September and is taking grade 2 this summer - her cousin has been having group lessons for 3 years and is also taking grade 2 this summer...

teacherwith2kids Fri 26-Apr-13 22:34:51

DS got to Grade 4 standard with group lessons of 30 minutes from Y3 - Y6. We would probably have shifted to individual lessons a little earlier had I been confident that his instrument playing would survive the primary to secondary transition - he has always been primarily a sportsman, was contracted with a local professional football club academy etc etc.

Then he met jazz, through a summer course run by the county, and his final peri teacher shared his love of it, so instead of carrying on in-school lessons into secondary, he now has individual lessons outside school. Tbh, I think it is the outside school plus individual that has the greatest benefit - in school he always had half a mind on what he might be missing. Taking Grade 5 after c. a year of individual lessons.

whistleahappytune Sat 27-Apr-13 16:31:14

Redsky I'd always advise private lessons, especially for certain instruments, namely string instruments. How can you possibly teach technique to a group of beginner violinists? EEK! But I do understand the cost implications of private vs. group.

What instrument is DS learning?

Do you sit with him in his practise sessions? Good on him for doing 5 times a week (fantastic habit), but I agree, 15 minutes isn't really adequate to progress. If you sat with him while he practised you would be able to stretch the practise to 20 mins, 25 mins and leading up to a half hour.

good luck!

morethanpotatoprints Sat 27-Apr-13 16:35:17

Personally, I don't like shared lessons as children progress at different speeds. There also doesn't seem to be sufficient time to cover everything as well.
I would always go for individual as I think it is more cost efficient in the long run as ime the student improves a lot quicker if taking lessons individually.
I know it costs more, but I think it worth it.

OddBoots Sat 27-Apr-13 16:40:30

We thought bout this for dd but in the end we stuck with group (which has now become a group of dd + 1 other child about the same level) but started Saturday Morning Music School too which has inspired her to practice more as well as made it more of a joy for her.

teacherwith2kids Sat 27-Apr-13 17:36:47

Coming back to this - for us, it was the difference in cost (4x as much for individual lessons outside school compared with lessons as a pair [initially group of 3, 1 dropped out] in school) compared with the relatively low priority of music in DS's life at that point that were the deciding factor.

If you are talking about group lessons in school vs individual lessons in school, the step up in price is perhaps not quite so eye-watering!

The position of music in DS's life has changed - where once he played football for 12+ hours per week, with group music lesson and practice being wedged in around that, he is now involved in music for around 4 hours per week + daily practice, and 'only' plays sport for about 7 hours or so per week (obviously plus PE lessons). The latter balance and importance of music makes the cost of private individual lessons seem much more reasonable - which is also why, after 4 years, we finally took the plunge and bought his own instrument rather than hiring it from the County music service.

DD's main passion is dancing, and although she has individual instruental lessons with the same teacher, this is more due to the demise of the county music service peri provision than it is due to a wish to maximise her progress. Had in-school paired / small group lessons still been available for her, we would have stuck with those for a while longer. She is still using a hired instrument.

teacherwith2kids Sat 27-Apr-13 17:38:19

(DD is at about Grade 3 level after 2 years of group lessons + just under a year of individual lessons - about the same level as DS was after 3 years of in-school group lessons. I would say that their progress in the lessons of different types, at least up to this Grade 3 -4ih point has been very similar, tbh.)

redskyatnight Sat 27-Apr-13 17:43:40

Thanks for all the thoughts. DS plays keyboard so we don't have to worry about setting up thankfully - but I do worry in a 20 minutes lesson that he's really only getting a few minutes personal attention (especially as the other children are doing different pieces so not sure how much he learns from listening to them/their feedback). whistleahappytune I do generally sit with him when he practises - when I don't he barely plays at all! In fairness he is often tired after school and has lots (too much imo) of homework to do as well, so the practice thing is partly due to fitting it in. I'm also not musical myself so I sometimes struggle to know what he should be doing (his teacher does write things to work on in his book but only so far you can take them).

Funnily enough since posting this, DS has come home enthused about wanting to audition to play in the school concert (includes performances in various categories but children who have played an instrument for over a year can audition to play a short piece individually) so will see if this encourages him to put more effort it.

ZZZenagain Sat 27-Apr-13 18:15:40

I would try a year of individual lessons. With more happening in the lesson, he will have more to practise. Establish a set practice time and remind him every day that it is time for music practice.

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