After attending a conference in Melbourne this year with studio owners from all around the country, it dawned on me to conduct some research. My question? What is the optimum learning environment for children learning a musical instrument? After conducting some initial research and talking with some of the best minds in the industry, I have discovered that whilst 1:1 lessons are the most impactful because they offer direct, diagnostic and specific feedback for your child, throwing some ‘group’ activity in the mix has some huge benefits. Let’s face it, group learning is not for everyone. The education a student can receive in a classroom of 30 students compared to 1:1 learning is diluted, slower, and sometimes a frustrating method of learning. There are distractions, other student questions that you may or may not already know the answers to, other students who learn at different paces and in different areas, the class clowns that hold everyone else up, the list goes on. And this is why at BRHYTHMIC we have always subscribed to 1:1 lessons. Early on in my teaching career parents would request group lessons and these were always short-lived because students learn in different ways and at different paces. This may sound harsh, though I do not offer any value as an educator unless I speak candidly about my experiences of how students learn. When it came to group lessons week in week out, it would always benefit the child that was ‘struggling’ whilst the more competent student would need to exercise great patience waiting for the other child to “catch-up” and sometimes, they simply wouldn’t or didn’t. In short, repetitive group learning is not the answer.

This year we had our 11th annual BRHYTHMIC concert. We performed our first group performance piece. The energy in the room was on fire and the overall vibe (sorry to sound like a Byron Bay hippy/not sorry) was simply awesome. This got the BRHYTHMIC team thinking, how can we harness the goodness from this group activity whilst honouring the most impactful way to learn i.e. 1:1 lessons?

So we have curated a magic formula:
9 x 1:1 lessons
1 x group lesson
per term.

Yes, this is a lot more work for us to prepare and organise, though the centre of our decisions and our values comes back to a question that comes up frequently in our team meetings and tutor professional development weekends: How can we provide more value to our students? 

And so, we have developed this winning formula knowing that the benefits are large and wide, for instance, integrating group lessons along with 1:1 lessons has many evidence-based benefits, including:

  • Higher academic achievement
  • Greater persistence
  • Better high-level reasoning and critical thinking skills
  • A deeper understanding of learned material
  • Lower levels of anxiety and stress
  • Greater intrinsic motivation to learn and achieve
  • Greater ability to view situations from others’ perspectives
  • More positive and supportive relationships with peers
  • More positive attitudes towards music
  • Higher self-esteem
  • Positive interdependence – Team members are obliged to rely on one another to achieve the goal. If any team members fail to do their part everyone suffers consequences.
  • Individual accountability – All students in a group are held accountable for doing their share of the work and for mastery of all the material.
  • Interactivity – While some of the group work may be parceled out and done individually, some must be done interactively with team members providing each other with feedback.  One of the most important aspects of cooperative learning is that students teach and encourage each other.
  • Appropriate use of collaborative skills
  • Students are encouraged and helped to develop and practice team skills such as leadership and communication
  • Group processing -Team members set group goals, periodically assess what they are doing well as a team, and identify changes for working together more effectively.

Our first group lesson for term 1, will be held at Jim Jam Studios, Hornsby, and boy do we have a treat in store for our students!

Group Lessons are scheduled on different days each term in order to accommodate the majority of family availability:

Term 1: Monday
Term 2: Tuesday
Term 3: Wednesday (BRHYTHMIC Concert)
Term 4: Thursday

… and if you miss one, don’t worry, you will still get online access to the group lesson and they go longer than your usual 1:1 lesson, so just join us for the next one.

Sources:
Felder, R. M., & Brent, R. (1994). Cooperative learning.
Berkman, L. F., & Kawachi, I. o. 2000. Social Epidemiology. New York: Oxford University Press.