Managing coaches / lesson time management
Joy O., Alabama
I have a situation I’m not sure what to do with. Maybe some more experienced teachers have some advice? Two little girls recently started lessons with me in a group, each with the grandmother as the life coach. Neither lives with grandmother.
One student’s mom is also attending, and that grandmother volunteered to pay a second lesson fee as a student. So I have three paying students, with five in the group lesson: two kids and three adults. Both grandmothers want to learn to play as well.
All five of them are coming to the piano for everything I do. The mother who is coming was reluctant, but her mother-in-law (the paying grandma) sort of insisted she play every time.
In the lesson this week, I only taught the RH of Night Storm, because that’s all we had time to cover. I understand that “it takes as long as it takes”, but I just feel that I’m not managing this situation well.
Heidi M., Canada
Can you let the actual students whose lessons are being paid for have time on the piano, and those adults who are not paying for their own lessons can just help with the finger patterns and off-piano rhythm exercises but no time directly on the piano? They will still learn something that way, but you are still giving priority to those whose lessons are paid for.
Maureen K., California
I would explain to the class that normally, the paying students are called on to play the piano in class. Everyone else in the room is considered an at-home coach for the students. Coaches are welcome to learn along and try things out at home.
Leeanne I., Australia
I had a group last year consisting of two kids and their mums, who wanted to learn to play as well. It worked great and was a lot of fun. Yes, you move through the curriculum much more slowly. Make sure most of the processing is done on the key pads. with a quick go each on the piano, round robin style. The lesson is for processing the material, not for playing the piano. Make sure everyone is clear on that. Treat the adults just as you would any enrolled student – make sure they all enroll! Practice requirements, checking playlists, and keeping their songs alive. You will figure out what works for you and what doesn’t as you go.
Just make sure they are all processing it on the keypads, doing what you have just showed them several times while you go around and check that they can all do it. When you are satisfied they can all do it okay on the keypads, then get them up to the piano for a quick round robin.
Kerry V., Australia
When parents/adults indicate they want to learn alongside their child, I explain they need to pay. If the adult indicate they are going to help at home, great. However, I explain to the parents/adults that I only have paying students approach the piano. Sometimes I will call you (adult) to play at the piano for a reason I find necessary. One of these reasons is to show that parent that it is NOT easy sitting at the piano. It always comes down to the initial conversation. And if an adult encouraged a non-paying student (or sibling for that matter), I remind them that it is I who will call people up and that it is usually only paying students.
If they say they want to be a student, they pay. Then they are invited to the piano as a paid student.
Laurie Richards, Nebraska
Keep in mind that even with paying students, not everyone has to process through every section on the keyboard during the lesson, if there is video support they can review at home. I regularly do this to save time – round robin, have a few students play a new section while the others watch/process. Then ask those who have NOT played, “Do you think you have it?” – usually they do by then. They can process through at home. That’s what we mean by “the learning takes place at home, not in the lesson”.
Having said that, I like to hear everyone for a while in a brand new group until I have a sense of their learning style/speed. But at that point there isn’t much on the playlist, and there should be plenty of time to have everyone cycle through. Just something to keep in mind as you continue with your class.
Jacqui G., Canada
One concern you should be aware of: a grandparent may be enthusiastic about enrolling their grandchild, but unless they live in the same house it is nearly impossible for them to be an effective life coach. The support of the parents is essential for success. Ideally, a parent should attend classes with the student and grandparent and agree to accept the responsibility of monitoring daily practice.
Kerry V., Australia
I have had carers and grandparents or separated parents come to class and, in conversations making sure communication will be and is strong after they leave the lesson. I don’t mind at all. Everyone has worked. The only time it didn’t work was with one parent attending and the other helping at home. Why it didn’t work is because there was no communication between the parents.