Is it possible to give students a rigorous education in a group class setting?
This is a question that music teachers and music school owners must ask themselves when they’re choosing a curriculum to use for their students.
It’s not enough to just get kids playing together in a group class.
Students must be provided with a complete music education!
In this article, you will:
- Learn the five elements of a successful group class
- Discover how Piano Express teaches those elements
- See a Piano Express “Discovery” class in action (see observation video below)
Let’s get started!
The Five Elements of a Successful Class
A successful group piano class will address all aspects of training a young student to be a complete musician.
The Piano Express group piano method centers around a 1-hour class that students attend each week.
During the first half-hour, students spend time in the assessment room working on new material with a teacher’s guidance.
During the second half-hour, they spend time in the Discovery room.
The Discovery class follows a predictable rhythm each week:
(a) “Opening procedure” – a weekly review of the level’s core
(b) “See it” – focus on analysis, note-reading, and practice strategy
(c) “Feel it” – focus on expression and technique
(d) “Create it” – focus on creativity through composition/ improvisation
(e) “Hear it” – focus on sight-reading and ear training
This works for students as young as 5 years old!
Here’s a more in-depth explanation of each element of the Discovery class:
Every class begins with songs and exercises that students play together as a group. The opening procedure is unique at every level, but is exactly the same week-to-week within each level.
A predictable routine is a proven way to start each class on-time, while setting an expectation for orderly behavior. The opening procedures in this curriculum have been carefully designed to review and reinforce the core of every level.
It is absolutely imperative that the teacher learns the opening procedures at every level.
So in short – the opening procedure performs two critical roles:
1) Class begins on time with a precedent set for order and good behavior.
2) The core of every level is reinforced and reviewed.
Students need to understand the logic of note reading. This part of class covers hand position, theory, pattern recognition, practice strategies, and more.
These lessons provide a structure for introducing these ideas in a clear, logical progression.
Music is an art form. It is so important that students learn to play imaginatively, and expressively. Expression would be difficult (if not impossible) to attain if proper technique is not introduced and reinforced. Every lesson has time set aside to focus on expressive playing and proper technique. These two concepts go hand in hand.
Children have a natural sense of curiosity and a natural spirit of exploration. Learning to compose and improvise is a great way for a new student to acclimate themselves to the sounds and landscape of the instrument.
For the more advanced student, composition and improvisation are wonderful ways to solidify theoretical concepts. A short time is set aside every week to allow children to get creative.
In the early levels, this time is more exploratory and free. While in the upper levels, there are parameters to provide a more structured, intelligent and thoughtful experience.
The long-term success of a music student largely depends on their ability to sight-read.
Obviously, the best way to improve note-reading is to spend time note-reading! Ear training helps the student evaluate their accuracy and helps to develop a perception of pitch – thus boosting the students reading level even further.
Every class is concluded with a short time of sight reading and ear training to reinforce these essential skills.
See a Discovery Class in Action
Now that you’ve learned what a Discovery class is… you can see how it looks in action.
Click below to watch Greg teach a Discovery class to Level 3 students:
The discovery portion of the Piano Express system provides a structured framework for teachers… supporting that teacher in creating complete musicians in their studio!
Each level of Piano Express is accompanied by a detailed teacher guide for each lesson in every level, as well as observation videos to support each and every lesson plan at every level.
Do you have questions? Comments?
If you’d like to use Piano Express in your school or just meet with us to answer questions, simply click here to speak with someone on the GroupLessons.com team!