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.

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 Music

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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5 Comments
  1. LeAnn Halvorson

    Daniel, you are exactly right about group lessons and sight reading. Since Covid restrictions last year, I have been teaching 30 minute private lessons again after having taught 60 minute group lessons since the early 1980’s. I can’t wait to be able to open my studio back up to group teaching again. My group pedagogy teacher in college always said, “It is our job to work ourselves out of a job.” Giving students the skills and time to learn things easily and correctly before going home is the only way to retain students easily. By giving them the sight reading skills, we are giving them the skills to learn music on their own. That is what they need and what I want for them. Thanks for your video.

    Reply
  2. LeAnn Halvorson

    Daniel, you are also right about multi-levels of students being in the same group. I have taught group lessons since the early 1980’s. It is very easy to have multi-levels of students in the same group. Most people think that all students need to be playing together at all times when in group. Instead, each individual can be working on what they need to accomplish with the management of headphones. Students can play together if you choose, but they don’t have to at all times during the group lesson. What a multi-level group does for the teacher is eases the scheduling. What a multi-level group does for the student is gives the students in a lower level a goal to work towards. The student in a higher level can easily see the progress they have made by seeing what the students in a lower level are doing. Upper level students can be paired with students in a lower level and play the teacher duets. Students in a lower level will hear terms and music that they are not able to play yet, but will understand it better when they are at that level. It works. Students in group lessons are more at ease with playing in front of others in a performance than students who only have had private lessons. There are many benefits.

    Reply
    • Daniel Patterson

      Love it! Thanks for sharing… and 100% agree with you!

      Reply

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