Large Group at the Keyboard
Mark M., New York
I finally started teaching the continuing education workshop just last night. 14 had signed up, 11 showed up, and at least 1 of the absent people is fairly certain to join in starting next week. So I’ve got a much bigger group than what I’m used to, since I’m used to at most 4 students at a time and usually just 2-3. And from what I understand of what other teachers generally do, this workshop group is on the large side even in general for this method.
Things went pretty well. I used practice pads and small groups, so I feel that things will generally go okay. People did comment, though, during round robin and also when I demonstrated something at the keyboard, that they had trouble seeing. If I need to keep such things down to a minimum and focus more on work away from the keyboard, that’s fine, but I wondered if any teachers out there with frequent experience teaching groups of 11+ might have any particular advice on how I can manage the group to maximize what everyone is getting out of any potential keyboard time. Thanks.
Sheh-Mae H., Australia
I personally haven’t taught SM to a large group, but I have run workshops for groups on other matters where I’ve either asked for a volunteer to be leader for their respective small groups or assign one.
Eg. Class of 12 divided into 4 groups of 3. Show leader in each group. Leader shows their group. Rotate leaders so everyone gets a chance to be one.
You get to walk around the room and observe to see if the leaders are unfolding the instructions correctly.
I’d be interested to know if this works.
Amy Y., New Mexico
Here’s a thought that I’ve had but have not tried as I don’t yet have any large groups. What if you set up a camcorder with outputs which can be fed directly into a TV. Put it behind the shoulder of the person at the piano like you would in video conferencing lessons. Then hook it up directly to a TV where everyone can see, preferably somewhere close to the piano or on top of it. Webcams probably won’t work as there’s usually a delay through the computer and there shouldn’t be any delays with a closed circuit TV setup. I know this can be quite a setup, but if you’ve got a large group this just might work using the stuff that you may already own. If anyone decides to try this setup, please let me know how it works out.
I actually have a practice pad on my whiteboard so sometimes I demonstrate on there. In that case, everyone can see in their seats. Then after they’ve gotten the hand of it, I’d play on the piano so they can hear what it sounds.