Small Group Music Lessons at Open School not-so-typical group lessons that challenge and inspire students to learn


In the spring of 2018, I made a significant shift in the nature of lessons offered in my after-school music program. Now, most all of the lessons I teach are some sort of “group” lesson.

This came partially as an experiment because I simply had too many students interested in lessons and I did not have nearly enough time for private lessons for everyone.

It continues because group lessons have been an overwhelmingly huge success and I now thoroughly believe that small group lessons are the best option for almost all elementary school students.

I do still teach a limited number of private 1-on-1 lessons for students who:

  • Demonstrate a significant commitment to their instrument with above-average practice time
  • Struggle with the group setting and have difficulty learning despite regular practice at home
  • Have culminated from Open School and are now in middle school (middle school group options may be introduced later)

But really, group lessons are the place where the magic happens.

Benefits of Small Group Music Lessons

Why am I so excited about group lessons? Are there really benefits of small groups over private lessons? Sure students will get experience working with their peers, but what else?

Here are just a few of the many benefits of small group music lessons:

  • There are certain musical skills that are learned much better as a group (such as rhythm, harmony, ear training, etc)
  • As music is all connected, it can be much easier to learn a concept on your instrument if you know how it works for other instruments as well
  • It is easier for students to be motivated in a group (if one student is learning faster, others will want to practice more to keep up)
  • Students can help each other (often times I find that when one student gets a concept well, they do a better job of helping their peers than I can)
  • It is simply more fun (when playing with other people or instruments, it sounds cooler and makes the student feel better about their progress)

I could go on… ☺

Three Types of Group Lessons for All Types of Students

As much as I believe small group music lessons are ideal for almost every student, I know that the standard type of group lesson is not ideal for everyone. Everyone needs at least a little bit of 1-on-1 instruction to help them address their biggest challenges.

That’s why I created three unique styles of small group music lessons and will be giving my students the opportunity to choose from the style(s) they like best.


Shared Lessons

Two or Three students will share one lesson time (30-45 mins)

  • Students are mostly taught separately, but in the same room
  • One student is taught 1-on-1 and the other(s) are given worksheets, activities, or music to work on or practice by themselves
  • Students switch places part-way through the lesson, ensuring all students get 1-on-1 learning most every week
  • Occasionally, students are given music to work on together with their partner(s), such as duets and group solos

(This works best with all students on the same instrument, but has also worked well with students on different instruments)

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Mini Class Ensembles

Two to Five students will share one lesson time (45 mins)

  • Students are taught simultaneously in one group, all learning the same music and exercises
  • Students learn songs both in unison (all students with the same part) and in ensemble form (where each student has their own part)
  • Time is taken occasionally (at least once a month) to give each student 1-on-1 learning (other students are given worksheets, activities, or music to work on or practice by themselves)
  • Students who excel are given bonus material and more difficult parts for ensemble pieces

(All students are all on the same instrument)

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Band-Like Combos

Three to Four students will share one lesson time (45-60 mins)

  • Students are taught both as a group and individually
  • Student learn songs primarily in ensemble form (where each student has their own part)
  • Each student has 1-on-1 lesson time at least once every 2 weeks, during which the other students are given worksheets, activities, or music to work on or practice by themselves
  • Students are able to go at their own pace as parts can be made easier or more difficult based on the individual’s level (a guitar part can be made harder than the piano part or vice-versa)

(Students are all on different instruments)

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Final Notes

I’m hoping that you too are as excited as I am about these group lessons! Here are just a few final things worth noting:

  • You don’t necessarily have to choose between group lessons and private lessons. You are more than welcome to do both! (schedule permitting)
  • Like more than one group type? Or want to learn more than one instrument? Students can take two or more group lessons! There is currently no limit.
  • Prefer a hybrid of the group options? Just let me know. Group types can change based on the interest of the students in the group. Additional group types may also be added in the future!


Please do not hesitate to contact me any time!