Do you get stuck in the piano lesson time crunch? Do you struggle to fit in everything you want to?
I don’t know when exactly half hour weekly piano lessons become the norm…but I think at some stage all of us teachers have cursed the person who started it! If we want to create well-rounded pianists with a comprehensive music understanding 30 minutes can sometimes feel like 5.
We want to cover music theory concepts, review old pieces, start new repertoire, scales, chords, composing, improvising, sight reading…etc, etc, etc.
There is no magic way to make 30 minutes last longer than half an hour. But if there are a few little tricks I’ve learned to avoid teacher stress when it comes to this time conundrum.
Don’t Offer 30 Minute Lessons
Before you say anything, no this is not one of the three solutions I’m suggesting. I would never mislead you like that. 😉
It is a solution though. If you really hate the 30 minute lesson format, consider getting rid of it altogether. Who says you have to teach in half hour slots anyway? Tradition? That’s not a good enough reason to stress yourself out.
So just think about the possibility of changing your standard format. At least consider it.
Now, there are plenty of reasons why you might not be able to do away with the 30 minute lessons. You might have a packed timetable and not want to turn away any current students. Or maybe your demographic just couldn’t do that financially.
Assuming you do have to cram it all into 30 minutes, let’s find some solutions.
Most teachers see some things as “core elements” and others as “extra stuff”. It’s reasonably easy to divide these things up if you think about your main goals for your student.
If your main goal is to have great readers, then method books and sight-reading could be “core”. Anything else you want to teach like improvisation, rote pieces and composing might be “extra”.
What goes in these categories depends on your goals, but for this method to work you do need to know which is which.
Once separated off the core and the extra, estimate how much time you want to spend on each of the core elements. Now whatever amount of time you’re left with is your rotating time. Everything else goes in this slot, one at a time, and they simply rotate.
You may not get a whole bunch of time on each of your extra elements, but that’s kind of the point. You can rest easy knowing the core stuff is covered, and still have the variety provided by the extra.
By the way, if you want more ideas on effectively planning out your piano lessons, you’re going to want to read 3 Useful Styles of Lesson Plans for Piano Teachers.
2. Theme Months
Another way to fit in the extras is to run studio wide themes each month.
For instance you could have a composing month where the last few minutes of everyone’s lesson are spent working on an original piece. (To include your newest students in this theme try using my Fishy Fables Composing Minibook.)
Another month might be note flashcard training month and you would start every lesson with a timed flashcard challenge (I use 60 second challenges in my studio).
These type of monthly themes can be great fun and they also build a sense of community in your studio. You can display the progress and projects each month to inspire your other students, and maybe even get a little friendly competition going.
3. Group Lessons
Adding group lessons into your studio calendar is a fantastic way to free up some lesson time.
Although lots of concepts are taught very effectively in one-to-one weekly lessons, some things are actually taught more easily in a group setting. Even if you can only fit a couple of group lessons into a year, you can still get a lot done during this time.
I love to teach music theory concepts through games at group lessons. I do use games in my individual lessons too – but let’s face it, it’s a lot more fun to play game with your peers than your teacher!
If you need help planning your group lessons, try these posts:
- Composer Spotlight Piano Party
- Practice Power Piano Party
- Halloween Themed Workshop
- Concert Preparation Workshop
Do 30 minute lessons stress you out?
What solutions have you found to the piano lesson time crunch?
Do you already use one of the ideas here? Or something else I haven’t thought of?
Let’s hear your best time saving strategies!