When trying to decide between private or group music lessons for yourself or your child, you will likely be inundated with choices. Some of these choices will be influenced by word-of-mouth advertising or by your child’s peers and their experiences, while others may be influenced by the student themselves. Many times, a child will want to study an instrument in which their friends have also shown an interest. With so many factors to consider, it can be tough to narrow down whether a private or group instructor is best. In the following, we explore the difference between group and private lessons, as well as how to make a decision that best suits the aspiring musician.
One-on-one learning is one of the best ways to learn nearly any subject, and music is no exception. Private music lessons are typically effective because the instructor has the chance to become familiar with the student and to tailor the music lessons to his or her needs. This is great for students who have had difficulty learning in group environments or who need special attention. In addition, private lessons allow teachers to see where students are deficient before they get too far behind.
Personalized attention allows students to focus on the lesson at hand rather than being distracted by what is happening around them in a group setting. Additionally, students who are slow to progress may have feelings of inadequacy in a group setting. Group members tend to work at a different pace, and students who are easily distracted or who have a difficult time grasping musical concepts may fail to thrive in a group setting.
Private lessons also offer instructors the ability to center the lesson structure around students’ strengths and weaknesses, as well as the ability to change this structure as needed. For instance, if a teacher notices that a student has missed a lesson, they will be easily able to pick up where they left off and continue. This is not a possibility in a group class that follows a strict schedule designed to apply to all participants. Once a student falls behind in a group setting, it can be difficult to catch up. The specialized lesson structure will help students feel comfortable with their progress thus far before moving on to more difficult concepts.
As with most things, there are some clear drawbacks to private music lessons. Not every student will benefit from this type of instruction, and before investing in private lessons, it’s important to determine if a group session would be better suited to you or your child.
One of the biggest disadvantages of private lessons is the cost. In most cases, private lessons are much more expensive than group lessons due to the teacher’s specialized knowledge and the fact that they are working with one student at a time. The added cost may be a deterrent to those with large families or those from families living off of one income.
The social aspects of learning music cannot be ignored. Private lessons will not give students access to others who are learning the same thing. Not only does group instruction allow students to sympathize with one another, but it sometimes provides motivation for students to learn the material in order to keep up with other members of the group. This will be highly individual based on a student’s unique learning style.
When deciding whether private lessons are the best option for yourself or your child, you should be sure to thoroughly research the instructors you’re considering. Ask for referrals, look online for positive and negative reviews, and find out if the instructor will allow you the opportunity to observe a lesson prior to committing. In addition, you should always be mindful of the overall goals of the students and ensure that their learning styles are suitable for private instruction.
The Right Fit
If high value is placed on the social aspects of learning, then private lessons may not be the right fit. In the same vein, if you are looking for an instructor for a child who is shy, then putting them in a group may be better for their social development in the long run. Private lessons should take the student’s personality into account, and the instructor-student relationship should be viewed as a collaborative effort.
When time permits, there is always the option of enrolling your child in both group and private lessons, as this will enable the student to see what works best and will serve to reinforce what is learned in each class. Regardless of what you decide, keep in mind that you always have the option to try another form of instruction if one of them doesn’t work out as planned.