Teaching a group class for instruction on any instrument can definitely have its challenges. One on one instruction is clearly a better option in most cases. So why should a parent enroll his/her child in a group class? I am going to talk about the advantages of a group guitar class for children. A group guitar class for young children certainly has its advantages over individual instruction.
1. It is cost effective. Group lessons will often cost at least half the price of a private lesson. What parent would not find this to be a good thing. When a child is starting on any instrument, a group class is a great way to make sure that the instrument he or she has chosen is something he wants to continue learning. The lower cost is definitely a better option considering that the child and parent are still testing the waters. Just make sure that the class is offering a positive learning experience so that his judgment is not clouded by a poor classroom experience with the guitar.
2. Children often enjoy group classes. When my son was given the choice between group activities or one on one activities with adults, he would always choose the group activities. Often children get a little bashful in one on one situations with adults, and adding the learning of a new instrument into the picture only makes things more stressful. Being introduced to a new instrument with his or her peers makes things so much easier for children, especially young children.
3. Guitar is an instrument where children in a similar age group work at similar paces. Because learning the guitar is much more complicated than many instruments, children require constant repetition of basic skills. This makes the group activity work well. Because most of the children stay at the same level, rarely will a single child find himself feeling frustrated because he or she cannot keep up. Children in the group quickly learn that they are all working on this difficult instrument together.
4. A class that is taught by a teacher who has good control of the class will make a successful experience. I love teaching my group guitar class. I get my 6 to 9 year old children playing simple songs on the very first day. We name the strings, we find frets, get our fingers on the frets (ow! reality check!), and learn a very simple song with 3 parts which get slightly more complicated as we move along. I put on the drum machine and we begin to rock out droning the low E string for 4 or 8 beats and then do the same on the A string. We go back and forth between the strings doing the same thing. over and over again until I see the children are comfortable with this. They love that they are playing a song with a drum beat! Voila! Success. And you will see me often say, I teach with success. Activities have to be something that they can do. We then get our fingers on the frets. This requires that we take a break to learn how the pitch works and to work on getting our fingers on the frets to change the sound. This takes a while but I move them along so that we can play the next part of our song on the low E string, 0, 3, 5 once each per each 4 beat measure. We repeat until children are comfortable with what is happening. Then put the parts together. This all happens in about 20 minutes. Most children start feeling success with this on the first day! I have already won them over! After a few weeks of repeating this simple song and gradually learning a few more simple skills, the children in my groups understand what it takes to learn guitar. Many of my students are so enthused that they continue their study in private lessons.
With the guitar, a full semester works great! Because children are equally challenged, I don’t see many children trying to move ahead (as long as children are in proper age groups.) For group piano, I would recommend I shorter time period because children move at different levels quickly. I definitely would recommend starting any child’s introduction to an instrument with a good group class.