Everything You Need to Know About Starting a Group Lesson Program

by Daniel Patterson

Everything You Need to Know About Starting a Group Lesson Program

 

In 2008, I started a group lesson program in my studio.

It was one of the best career choices I ever made.

The benefits it brought to me, my studio, and my students were numerous:

  • My students learned music faster
  • I didn’t feel like a “babysitter” anymore
  • Students enjoyed the learning environment more
  • It forced me to become a better teacher
  • After initial doubts, parents appreciated the format and thought it made my studio unique
  • It lowered my dropout rate / increased my retention
  • Students got into much higher levels before stopping lessons
  • It gave an appropriate amount of attention to first year students (CONTROVERSIAL: I’m convinced that a first year music student doesn’t need or “deserve” the 1-on-1 attention of a college educated teacher with 10, 20, or 30 years of teaching experience)
  • It nearly tripled my hourly rate
  • Many, many more benefits that I won’t list here (but you can read about or watch below)

The format and the benefits that it conferred on my students made me absolutely giddy… I was excited to walk into my teaching studio every day.

However, these benefits didn’t come overnight.

And… 

I had to break with the conventional wisdom of what a group lesson looked like!

Most group lesson programs have a group curriculum. I disagreed with this, and invented a way to adapt any method into a group program.

Most group lesson programs group kids based on their ability level. I disagreed with this, and invented a way to group kids of all levels together in the same group.

Most group lesson programs demand that all students learn concepts at a structured pace together. I disagreed with this, and invented a way for kids to move at their own pace.

Most group lesson programs don’t work beyond the very beginning stages of music education. I disagreed with this, and invented a way that allowed even intermediate students to thrive in the group…. So much so that they were getting high scores in Grades 4 – 7 of the Royal Conservatory of Music exams.

My system was very different. But, it worked beautifully.

Over the years, I have created resources about group lessons. Unfortunately, they are scattered all over this blog, YouTube, and Facebook. Some aren’t even publicly available.

This post is a collection of all those resources… an “ultimate guide” to doing group lessons the Successful Group Lessons way.

 

Video Tutorials About Important Group Lesson Topics

Below is a collection of videos that I made to answer common questions that studio owners have about group lessons.

1. 5 Fears About Group Lessons

Humans fear change. I made this video to address common fears that studio owners had about switching to group. This includes fearing that they would hate the format, they would lose students, and fear of the unknown around policies, recitals, etc.

2. How I Teach Sight-Reading in Group

This video provides an answer to a simple question: How do I get kids to do so well in group? But, it also provides a solution to deeper problems that studios have… having to do MORE to keep students in an increasingly busy and distracted world. A must-watch video.

3. How to Solve Group Weaknesses

I love group, but there are problems that group lessons create. In this video, I show how these “weaknesses” of group lessons are actually strengths in disguise.

4. What Makes my Group Program Successful?

Having taught group for over a decade, I’ve had a lot of time to reflect on what made my program so successful. In this video, I share the 4 components of a successful group program including the educational goals and the changes it forced me to make as a teacher.

5. Do Kids Struggle in a Group Program?

I once had a music teacher tell me that group lessons were a scam! Her concern was that the students would struggle to progress. In this video, I reveal what it takes to get kids to learn music quickly. I also give some warnings about what not to do in group.

6. How I Teach Theory in a Group Program

I go even deeper in this video on how to give children a well-rounded, serious music education… while they’re having fun in the program itself. Specifically, I give some practical tips on how to teach theory concepts to kids in a group – even when time is at a premium.

7. How Do I Keep Families from Quitting Music Lessons: A Coaching Session with a Successful Group Lessons Client

I coached one of my clients on how to keep students in her studio. We covered a number of topics, including the educational engine that makes my group lessons program work. This is a one-of-a-kind interview that is absolutely a must watch.

Blogs and Ebooks About Starting a Group Program

8. 4 Lies You’ve Been Told About Group Lessons

I wrote this article to address a number of common myths that scare studio owners from making the leap into group lessons. This includes myths about losing the special relationship you have with your students, financial concern, and many others.

9. How to Make $10,000 Per Month Teaching Piano

The most popular article I’ve ever written on this blog… and applicable to not just piano, but any instrument. It gives a step-by-step accounting of  how I took my studio from low 4 figures to 5 figures per month using a group lesson model.

10. How to Fill Your Group Lesson Program

An ebook that I wrote that explains how to get parents on board a group lesson program or any new program in your studio. Solves the problem that many studio owners dread: bored, unresponsive, apathetic clients who won’t respond to your emails, texts, and phone calls about new programs, recitals, or opportunities that you create for them!

11. Jon’s Story: Converting to a Group Piano Studio

A look at a client that converted his studio from 1-on-1 lessons to group in less than one month. Lots of wisdom and practical “tips and tricks” included in this real-life group lessons success story.

12. Rudene’s Story: Growing a Respected Group Studio

A look at how an established studio converted over to group… a studio that grew from 50 students to 125 students. They even weathered the COVID-19 crisis by doing online groups (and had their most profitable year ever!).

 

Conclusion

These resources will help you get started.

These resources have helped hundreds of studio owners get “unstuck.”

As I create more resources and answer more questions… I will continue to add to this post.

And, if you want to get started on group lessons, simply reach out and ask me a question or check out our group lessons training.

Happy to add one more resource to this page for you!

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Daniel Patterson is a private teacher, writer, and marketing consultant for music schools. He began teaching in 2004. He co-founded and led marketing operations for a summer music camp that sees over 200 children each summer.

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