Group Lessons vs Private Lessons When Learning the Guitar

Everyone who’s ever been to a school knows that he or she is not the only student in the classroom. In bad cases you may be one of 40 but if we take an average countryside school here in Estonia, you may be lucky enough to study together with less than 10 classmates. But what about learning a music instrument, let’s say, a guitar in a group lesson?

The traditional way in music education is to have a teacher and a student in classroom and that’s it. That’s exactly how I work every day at the Estonian Academy of Music with my students. When the next student comes I can see how the previous guy or girl tenses up and changes the way of playing. People are used to be the “best pupils of the class” and start to panic when there is somebody else listening. But how about performing on stage if just one more listener makes the student nervous? Maybe the private lessons don’t have only benefits but problems too..

In my Guitar School project I teach groups of 10-18 people every week. For me as a teacher it is much more demanding than conducting a private lesson. I feel like a soloist in front of the audience and try to communicate with everyone and make sure that everybody’s happy and can put up with the tempo. How about the students then? Mostly a group lesson works best with students with similar level and it means that it is a good way of starting from zero as zero level is equal for everyone. The positive things about a group lessons are that people feel more anonymous, have less tension, feel positive competition, see where others are and get used to play together from the very beginning.

Next month I am going to have a couple of lectures about group tuition in guitar education at the annual gathering of the Estonian Guitar Society so I’ll have to start thinking about these things and will probably get back to the topic. Meanwhile everybody’s experiences are welcome here!

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