Chat – Managing Shared Lessons
Found in: Shared Lessons
Kerry H (AUS) Welcome everyone. Does anyone have any questions about this topic?
Karen Tucker Not right off, I just want to learn all I can about the world of shared lessons.
Carol Bishop I’m so new I need to know everything.
Susan F (USA) How many students to you consider to be a shared lesson, versus a group?
Em How do you CTE [control the events] in shared environment?
Helen P (Aus) How do you keep track of each individual’s progress?
Barbara G (USA) How to introduce shared when I’ve only done private.
Wendy(AUS) What happens when one student misses a lesson?
carrie jo I have done some shared lessons, but the largest I’ve done is 2. I often feel pressured to get everything in and to be sure that everyone’s Playlist is alive.
Kerry Verdon (Aust) How do you manage your attendance sheet when people move around to different groups?
Susan F (USA) What do you do when you have a shared lesson with 2 siblings and one moves faster than the other due to age and ability?
Lois B (USA) How do you structure the lesson so the kids stay engaged?
Kerry H (AUS) Well, firstly, Neil has decided to move away from specific use of the words ‘group lessons, and move towards calling and relating to them as ‘shared lessons’ for anything other than private. So whether it’s 2 or 10 students, it is a shared lesson now. This will help us get away from some of the traditional baggage that goes along with the traditional approach to teaching groups, and helps us present a new concept, a new approach, a profoundly different structure than traditional group lessons……..
Em, you CTE just the same as you would in a private lesson…..
Em But if there are lots of students how can it be done with each individually?
Kerry H (AUS) You would have all the students around the piano and you would work with the one student who is the volunteer and then squat or sit right beside that volunteer and just control the events (CTE) while everyone else is watching.
Susan F (USA) With CTE, can you not also have the students use keypads and demonstrate on the piano or mount a keypad on the wall to demo with?
Kerry H (AUS) you may do this with 1 or 2 students, you don’t need to do it with everyone for them to get the point.
Em You mean you would depend on the others going slowly because you told them to, not because you did it individually.
Kerry H (AUS) Yes, you make a big point of it, with 1 or 2 volunteers, and tell everyone else they must do it this way at home.
Laurie from Omaha I think a lot of what the kids in a shared lesson learn is from the “observatory learning” Neil talks about – you are teaching the concept of CTE and then demonstrating it to the whole group when one student is playing.
Kerry H (AUS) That’s right Laurie.
Kerry Verdon (Aust) I have students who watch and then ask if they could play it to make sure they have it. What do you suggest?
Kerry H (AUS) I control the class. If you have everyone do it, you will run out of time, unless you just do a quick round robin and see just a chord progression or something like that. If I felt there wasn’t time, I would probably say, no I’m not going to do that now, because I want to make sure we cover a couple of other things. However, I think part of that has to do with how you set up the shared lessons in the first place.
For example in the very beginning, I would be telling the students how the shared lessons will operate, and that not everyone will get to try everything in the lesson and that the point of the shared lesson is that it is a coaching event where the point is to understand the concepts and the content and what they need to do in moving forward. You must explain that it is NOT for everyone to process everything in their fingers in the lesson, but to understand what to do so that they can go home and do it in the real Simply Music lesson, which is what takes place at home, every day, for the next 6 days. If they all had to process everything in the lesson, what would they do at home during the week? It would waste the lesson time.
Kerry Verdon (Aust) Thank you KH, that is very helpful.
jenny savill I have had 2 students sharing for 3 years. They both learn differently but love learning together. One composes regularly – the other performs, they are in level 7. I have had to increase their lesson time to 40 minutes because we weren’t fitting everything in 25. Is this common?
Kerry H (AUS) You would need to make a judgment call Jenny, but I probably wouldn’t do this. I do a 30-minute lesson for 2 people though, and you don’t need to hear complete songs, to get a sense of where they are at and be able to coach them to move forward. I think a common mistake teachers make, is thinking they need to hear the whole song. You can tell by the fact that if a student is playing something strongly and confidently in the first section, that they will probably have it in other sections; however, you can ask them if there are any sections that are not fluent yet, or they are having trouble with and then just check them on that….but you don’t need to hear every song every week to be able to manage it….
jenny savill I have inherited some share/ students whose playlist took 6 months to get right. Managing a shared lesson is vital!!
Kerry H (AUS) Yes, Jenny, I agree that managing the Playlist is vital…..
carrie jo I agree with not wanting to waste lesson time, however, I often have students who can pick up a simple melody or phrase or what have you, in a matter of seconds. I guess what is difficult is that when I am coming from a private lesson environment and I am accustomed to moving at each individual student’s pace…
I would feel as if I’m wasting time if I’m not challenging each one to their best ability….
Kerry H (AUS) Hearing a couple of things at random will give you a good idea of how they are going….in addition to asking them, ‘are all your songs as fluent as this one?’ Then if they say ‘yes’, ask them, are you sure? What about such and such, and so you ask them about a few songs. You don’t necessarily have to hear them to get a sense of how they are.
Barbara G (USA) Does that means all arrangements too?
Kerry H (AUS) Barbara G, yes it does. I think that any song they learn, should be kept alive.
mary How do you structure the lesson time for a very large group—8-12?
carrie jo I really like to use the popsicle stick idea that I found on Simpedia for Playlist management. I even have the accompaniments on them. Students pull them out and then I can be sure that it is random each week.
Kerry H (AUS) Mary, the first part of the lesson, you would hear each student play a little of something they have been working with at home during the week. You may decide to hear either a Playlist song or the new project, again you only need to hear say 30 seconds from each person, to hear how they are going….you give a little bit of coaching and then move on. Sometimes you may opt to spend a week just reviewing if that is necessary, otherwise you move onto the new project. At the end of the lesson, I dictate notes for them to write down about what to do during the week, such as what sections of the video to watch and what they need to review etc.
mary During the review portion do you choose what each student will play or do they choose?
Kerry H (AUS) Mary, mostly I choose, because I want it to be random so that they never know what to expect, and that way they know they have to have every song ready to be heard at any time.
Susan F (USA) Can we address the issue of shared lessons of 2 when the kids are 1-2 years apart (such as siblings) who move at different rates? In the cases with siblings I can’t separate the students to different lessons because the parents don’t want to come for 2 classes a week. How do you manage them when they progress differently?
Kerry H (AUS) Susan F, I think it comes down to a set-up conversation. I would always tell parents in the beginning that with siblings, we can try them in a class together, but if they are progressing at wildly different rates, I may need to move them into different classes. I always tell everyone this in the Foundation Session whether they are siblings or not that if I feel it is necessary and appropriate for the student and the others in the class, then I may have to move them to a different class. The only other option would be to have the parent work heavily with the younger student at home…. or I should say the one that’s progressing more slowly (not always the younger one) and have them keep them up to speed. However, you must do what you think is in the best interests of the students, and if you set it up beforehand that you may need them to come to separate classes, it avoids a lot of problems further down the track.
carrie jo Kerry, I did this recently during a Foundation Session after meeting some students and realizing that the student’s personalities and the parent’s parenting styles were completely opposite. I tried moving them. They called and said that they were going to wait to start.
Susan F (USA) True- it isn’t always the younger one. Do you have one student go slightly ahead of the other in the songs to keep the faster one interested?
Kerry H (AUS) Carrie Jo, what do you mean they were going to wait to start? I would have them start together, but if it becomes obvious that they are progressing at much different rates, then they would need to separate at that time.
Karen Tucker So Kerry, would you take it so far as to let them quit if they insisted they would not be separated? Some parents really try to just run the show
carrie jo Well, my problem what that I was trying to pair 2 seven year olds….after meeting the parents and kids in an FIS, I decided that it probably wouldn’t work. It’s not exactly progressing at different levels, but I think it speaks to Karen T’s question of how far do you take it? Some parents will just quit if you don’t do it the way THEY want it done.
Kerry H (AUS) Karen, you would need to explain to them that you will be doing what is best for the students and that you want them to have a positive self-affirming experience along the way. They need to understand that if they can’t do what you believe is in their best interests then it won’t work. I explain that kind of thing in the Foundation Session also, and tell them that I would have to ask them to leave if they were unwilling to follow my coaching.
Laurie from Omaha Susan, I often use the arrangements for the speedier one to keep them challenged. Carrie, I think that you shouldn’t make judgments on grouping before you’ve had a chance to see them interact in a lesson setting over a period of time. I have totally misjudged a few students on how well they would do together, tried it, and they did great
carrie jo Laurie, I think in this instance you would have agreed with, but that is topic for another day
Laurie from Omaha Fair enough!
mary I agree, Laurie. I have had very unlikely pairings (a 7 year-old girl and 12 year-old boy, for example) work out amazingly well.
Kerry H (AUS) I agree with Laurie, though, you won’t know until you try, but I would usually warn them ahead of time that if it doesn’t work, we may need to make some changes. It all comes back to your Set-up Conversations.
carrie jo This was not age difference. This was two parents and children with wildly different parenting styles and serious issue with “spirited” children. Honestly, I’m glad it worked out the way it did.
Susan F (USA) Laurie – I like your idea of using arrangements for the faster student, but in level 1 they aren’t ready for arrangements. Sometimes I show them the variation, but once that’s done, all I can think to do is to have the faster student go ahead a section or two in the song. Do you do that too?
Laurie from Omaha Susan, I think most students can handle the simpler arrangements in level 1. I regularly teach them. I would not have one student go ahead a section or two; then they would always be in different places.
Susan F (USA) Arrangements in level 1, that’s helpful to know that they can handle it. – Thanks.
Karen Tucker I have also had success in L1 with teaching arrangements, they love it
Em Would you take a 5 or 6 year old who could do 5SS and chords, and pair them with 8 year olds?
Kerry H (AUS) Em, I know there are lots of exceptions, but as a general rule of thumb, I usually don’t put 5 or 6 yr olds with older child. In my experience, very young children and very old students, progress more slowly than other students, and I find that I need to have 5 or 6 year olds on their own. Even 6 months can make a big difference at that age.
Em Thank you. I thought so but wanted you expertise. Would 7’s fit in with 8’s? Seems at that age they’re more capable.
Kerry H (AUS) Em, as far as combining 7’s and 8’s, yes in fact I have students who are 7-10 together….again, it all comes down to the Set-up Conversation and letting them know that I may have to move them into a different class if I find it is the most appropriate thing for the student and the others in the class.
Karen Tucker Kerry – does everyone play a little something every week?
Helen P (Aus) Kerry – you were responding to an earlier question about structuring the larger (8-12) group lesson? After hearing a couple of people play their Playlist pieces and/or the new work, what then?
Kerry H (AUS) Helen P, I mentioned that once we had heard what they were doing at home, I would move on to the new project and then write notes at the end.
Helen P (Aus) When you say “the new project”, there may be a number of new projects including reading and accompaniment. How do you incorporate these or do you work on only one area each week?
carrie jo Kerry, I wonder could you share some of the ways you adapt lessons for little ones?
Kerry H (AUS) Carrie Jo, I think that is a whole other topic on it’s own and not something that I can get into in much detail in this session, but you just break things down into smaller steps. But this is really a subject for a training session and something that I know Neil will be producing further down the track. Alternatively, you could book in for a coaching session with one of the Senior Teachers to cover this, or we may be able to do a Chat Session entirely on that.
carrie jo I agree. If you could arrange a chat session for that specifically I would be there!
mary Kerry, have you been successful in combining smaller shared lessons into a bigger one? I want to do that, but am having trouble thinking of a convincing argument why 6 or 8 is better than 2!
carrie jo most parents are so sold on the idea of private, that I find that convincing them that their child is getting a benefit to be the biggest challenge.
Kerry H (AUS) Carrie Jo, I think it depends on how you present it to them and how strong you are on the arguments for yourself.
carrie jo right ….I agree what do you say?
Kerry H (AUS) Neil covers this in detail in the videos for ‘Leading Group Sessions’ and I have also covered it a previous Simpedia posting in great detail.
carrie jo okay then. I’ll look that up
Lois B (USA) I’ve jumped into teaching in a shared environment, and am still nervous preparing for each lesson. Any tips?
Kerry H (AUS) Lois B, a good idea can be to prepare your forthcoming lessons immediately after you have finished a class. For example if you have 5 minutes in between classes, then jot down what you might do next week. If you don’t have time immediately after the lesson, then you could do it that evening for the next week -that way it is fresh in your mind and doesn’t take long to prepare. Obviously, though, when it comes to preparation, things may change depending on what happens when they come back next week. You may find they are not ready to move onto what you had prepared the week before.
Lois B (USA) So prepare, but also be prepared to be flexible. Thanks!
Karen Tucker Kerry, when you first start a new shared lesson, are the students uncomfortable? My adults especially are, and I was wondering some things you do to help them out with that?
Em would a 10 year old or 12 year old feel put off having younger kids, say 7 or 8 in a lesson with them?
Kerry H (AUS) Em, I don’t usually put 12 yr olds in with 7 yr olds, but again, if you don’t have any other options, then try it. Just make sure you have the Set-up Conversation before hand about the possibility of moving them.
Em Ah! Thanks.
carrie jo My only shared lessons are siblings and most of them have this kind of an age difference. So far, it has worked out well enough
Kerry H (AUS) Carrie Jo, if it’s working then, no problem.
carrie jo Though, I will say that I usually have more problems with the older sibling practicing and I wonder if sometimes that might be an indication of boredom on their part.
Barbara G (USA) Could you share about scheduling shared lessons. If 2’s are 30 min. & 3’s are 35 min. & 4’s are 40-45, etc. , then how do you set up your schedule? Do you still keep 5 – 10 minutes in between each shared lesson?
Kerry H (AUS) Yes, Barbara G, I do. You need to have that time in between to get 1 class in and the other out, plus I think it’s important to have a few minutes for yourself if you can, although sometimes, you may have some specific questions or things to deal with certain students in between classes also.
Susan F (USA) So Kerry, does that mean that if you have a 30 minute lesson that starts on the hour (like 3:00 pm), you set the next lesson for let’s say 3:40?
Kerry H (AUS) Yes, I have classes starting at all different times, like 3:40 or 3:55 or whatever works for me and my schedule.
Lyndel K (Aus) If the length of each lesson is determined by the number in the lesson, does it also change each time the numbers change. It seems that a whole days class times would be changing regularly. How does that work?
Kerry H (AUS) The good thing about that is that people get used to having their lessons start at any time, and there is less of a problem if you have to move people 5 or 10 minutes earlier or later if you need to accommodate a new class at some stage.
Susan F (USA) Wow – I find that hard to believe that they show up at 3:55 on time? If that’s so, then that’s a good thing to try.
Kerry H (AUS) I haven’t had a problem with it.
Em I have 2 siblings that want to start. One is 7 the other is 8. does putting siblings together usually work out well? any pitfalls to watch out for?
Kerry H (AUS) Em, yes, I would put siblings together, and in most cases it does work out. As I said before though, you need to set it up so that you can move them if you need to.
Barbara G (USA) How does a large shared lesson work on “pay day”? Do you have to take the time out of the lesson? or do you do it in between?
Kerry H (AUS) I usually have everyone pay prior to the beginning of the lesson….it gets it out of the way. In a large class, it may work better to have people pay by check. Or if doing credit card payments, then have an arrangement with them that you can charge their card once a month to save time in the lesson or in between. Work out what works best for you.
Laurie from Omaha I made a decorative drop box where they can just deposit their checks.
carrie jo Kerry, do you think that if an older sibling in a shared lesson isn’t practicing as much that it might be an indication of boredom? or just the usual Claiming Territory thing
Kerry H (AUS) Carrie Jo, there are all sorts of reasons why a student is not practicing as much, and I’m sorry, but I don’t have time to go into that in detail now. I would need to know more specifics about what is happening in this situation…. if you like you can email me directly.
carrie jo no problem….I type fast so…sorry
Kerry H (AUS) No problem, but I do need to finish here. I hope this has been valuable for everyone.