After my post last week ‘7 Benefits of Partner Piano Lessons‘ several teachers requested more info on how exactly I make lesson plans for partner piano lessons.
It’s certainly not as straight forward as regular lesson planning. There’s a reason I charge each student 75% of my regular fee (making 150% of individual lesson fees). It takes more time and thought to teach two students at the same time.
I’m sure there are many ways to go about making lesson plans for partner piano lessons. This is the way I have personally found to work in my studio.
(After a little trial and error. 😉 )
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Finding a Structure
Before I start planning, I need to know exactly what I want these students to be learning. This in turn decides the general categories that will go into my lesson plans.
These are the categories that I include in all of my partner piano lessons.
- Rhythm – For most students this means using Rhythm Vocab Cards and tapping out the rhythms using Kodály rhythm syllables.
- Rote Pieces – My current favourites for beginners are ‘Repertoire by Rote‘ and ‘Piano Safari‘ books. I will also take special requests from students if there’s a particular pop or folk melody they want to learn.
- Reading Pieces – All my partner piano students are also learning to read along with their rote pieces. The method book choice depends on the students ages and what suits them just as it would with individual lessons.
- Off-the-bench Theory – This includes games, floor staff activities and flashcard challenges.
Younger piano partner lessons are 45 minutes each week. On top of the above, lesson plans for younger piano partners will also include:
- Kodály Singing Games – I love the collections from NYCOS for this, they’re designed for big groups but many can be adapted for my partner lessons.
- Colouring & Worksheets – A few minutes spent colouring or completing a theory worksheet isn’t a waste of time. Young students need to switch up activities regularly anyway so this can provide a much needed “brain break”.
Older piano partners (over age 8/9) take 60 minute partner lessons. This gives us more time to focus in on some extra areas such as:
- Technique – I might include exercises in transposing and various technical warm-ups as and when students are ready for them.
- Scales – Within the first few weeks all my students over the age of 9 would be starting the major scales using my scale level charts, and piano partners are no different in this regard.
- Chord Progressions – Chords are a fantastic thing to know from the early days of piano lessons. I also use this as an opportunity to introduce the pedal as detailed in the post ‘Beginner, Meet Pedal’ here.
Building a Framework
Once I have decided on the broad categories that will go into my lesson plans for partner piano lessons, I lay it all out and allocate rough amounts of time to each. This might look something like the chart below.
This template will adapt and change as time goes in but it’s a good starting point for weekly lesson planning.
Making the Plan
Each week I take this template and fill in the blanks. For example one week my plan for 6 year old piano partners might look like this:
Keeping my plan short, sweet and to the point allows me to glance at it during lessons without it disrupting the flow.
Once I have this weekly lesson plan done, I go ahead and write out the assignment sheet for my piano partners. While during individual piano lessons I can write assignments as we go along – with two students this isn’t possible.
If I’m unsure how much we’ll get through, I err on the side of too many assignments. It’s easier to just cross something off the list if we didn’t get to it than to add on something during lesson time.
Having short and succinct lesson plans for partner piano lessons is also best for another reason. It allows me to be flexible. I’m not so invested in the plan that I feel I need to stick to it.
It’s not possible to be as flexible in partner piano lessons as in individual lessons. You do need to keep the train fairly firmly on the tracks (you are technically outnumbered after all 😉 ). However I have managed to find certain degrees of flexibility too.
Be prepared then prepare to pivot.
I trust my gut during the lesson time. If I planned to get the kids off the bench next, but they’re focussing really well at the moment – I’ll go ahead and do our next reading piece right away. If they’re starting to get ants in their pants, I’ll for sure throw in an extra game I hadn’t planned on.
It’s taken some getting used to, but I’m comfortable with this new format now. I’ve got my lesson plans for partner piano lessons pretty well sorted.
I hope it’s given you some food for thought on how you might go about planning for partner piano lessons in your studio.
What else do you want to know about partner piano lessons?
I’ve had a lot of different questions about this teaching format already. This is definitely not the last post I’ll write about partner piano lessons. So let me know what you want to know.
Comment with your questions below and I’ll make a note of them for the next post.