A piano studio is a community. The tighter knit that community is, the less likely kids are to quit and the more fun they’ll have while they’re there. But how do you build more community in the private piano studio?
The fantastic thing about one-on-one piano lessons is that they’re individualised. The not so fantastic thing is that they can be isolating. It can feel to your student like they’re the only one struggling with technique, reading or consistent practice.
Help your student to feel part of a team by showing them they’re not alone on their piano journey. Here’s five ways to bake more community into your studio calendar.
Concerts, events and recitals can be a wonderful place to build more community in your studio. Parents and kids are all there to cheer on the hard work that happens in your piano studio, and celebrate student achievements.
People will naturally mingle a little before and after any recital, but you can take it a step further.
- Compliment cards – I did compliment cards at last year’s Spring recital and it was a great way for students to connect with the whole studio.
- Duets and ensembles – get your students together for duets and ensembles for your next concert and they might even make some best friends along the way.
- Themes – theming your piano studio events will make students more curious about eachother’s pieces and bridge the gaps between individual students.
- Piece requests – encourage your students to take notes on their recital program of any of the pieces they would like to learn in the future. This will keep them focussed and listening properly to every performer too.
- More recital sparkles – Read this post from the 30 Day Studio Refresh to find more ways to make your concerts extra special and memorable.
Piano Parties & Workshops
I’ve been running more piano parties in my studio this year, and it definitely pays off when it comes to community building. Getting more opportunities to play theory games and learn together, means the kids in my studio know they’re not alone on their piano journey – even in their one-on-one lessons.
Are you nervous about trying piano parties? Don’t be! It’s easier than you might think to get kids together, learning and having fun.
If you need ideas for what to do here’s some ideas to get you started:
- Practice Power Piano Party – this post runs through everything I did at the piano party I held last September. You can copy my plan exactly and avoid any headaches!
- Off-the-bench Catalogue – if you’re looking for games for your piano party, this is the place to go. I’ve organised all the free games I could find online by theory concepts covered.
- Color in my Piano – this post from Joy Morin really helped me when I was first starting to put piano parties into the schedule.
Got questions about piano parties? I’d be happy to answer them in the comments below or in the Vibrant Music Studio Teachers community on Facebook here.
There are many different forms of overlapped lessons, and many different names too. You may know this as lab time, off-the-bench time, partner time, semi-private lessons or even 20/20/20 lessons.
The basic premise is the same though – some time is spent at the studio with another piano student. This time (even if it’s completely separate lab time) will mean students get to know each other and make piano buddies in your studio.
Overlapping lesson options:
- Benefits of Partner Lessons – the reasons why I offer partner lessons, and the benefits for both you and piano parents. A lot of this applies to any kind of lesson overlap too.
- How I Plan for Partner Lessons – Step-by-step guide to my own partner lesson planning.
- Off-bench Time – Leila Viss calls her overlapped time “off-bench” time, get an overview of what her students get up to in this post.
- Music Lab QnA – Here Jennifer Foxx answers some common questions about music lab time and her music lab task cards.
- Teaching Outside the Box – This episode of Tim Topham’s podcast features Lynette Barney who has a very interesting set up for overlapping lessons.
I’m planning more overlapping lesson options in my studio for next year. Details not finalised but I’m looking forward to more options for duet work, improvisation, theory games and of course more community building.
Even if you don’t want to go in for overlapping lessons, why not pass some messages between private ones? Let your students get to know each other, even if it’s not face to face.
Some ideas for secret message projects:
- Each student leaves a theory question for the next student to answer.
- Every student writes something they learned on a studio board after each lesson.
- A waiting room drawing book that other students can browse through (from Amy Chaplin).
- Start a composition with one student and have the next continue where they left off. (Like a piano version of those folded Chinese pictionary games – anyone else play that?)
My practice incentive board (the challenge board) is one way my students find out what other students are up to. Many of my students walk and check the board straight away for new names that might have been added since last week.
You don’t have to do a permanent board like mine. Any incentive with a visual display will forge connections and build more community in your piano studio.
Practice incentives with strong visual displays:
- Colourful Keys Challenge Board – my own permanent setup with scale, chord, transposing and practice challenges.
- Teach Piano Today’s Pirate Practice Challenge
- Teach Piano Today’s Blooming Flowers
- Practice Bead Collection
- Many more incentive programs for purchase on TeachersPayTeachers
What have you done to foster more community in your studio?
Do you find your students connect with each other? Are they friends outside of piano? Do they ask about what other kids are up to?
Tell me all about your experiences with community building in the comments or the Vibrant Music Studio Teachers community on Facebook here.