I have monthly group lessons, with students grouped, as much as possible, by age and level of study. This has encouraged a camaraderie, as well as improved playing, since they normally do not see or hear fellow students play until recital time. For group class in December, students and their parents meet at a designated assisted-living facility to play for the residents. It also helps relieve some of the stage fright at recitals, since they have already played for their peers and others throughout the year.
—Submitted by Susan Hill, Broken Arrow, Oklahoma
Try a monthly group lecture in lieu of private lessons.
Classes of peers motivate better than any other "device."
Invite all levels of your students to your studio workshops so they not only socialize, but older students can help younger students, and the younger students can emulate the older students.
I use an overhead projector in my studio when working on unison pieces with my students. I have 11 keyboards in a circle and the overhead in the middle, projecting on a screen. This allows me to have all students working at the same spot at the same time by pointing to the music on the screen. I can start and stop the piece to work on difficult parts and make sure everyone knows exactly where we are. By having the students watch the screen with no music at their keyboard they are less likely to watch their hands while learning a new piece. The students have the method book to practice at home.
I recently bought a computer projector and have been scanning the music into PDF files to use instead of transparencies on the overhead projector, which I have been doing for 20 years. I currently teach 17 classes a week involving 150 students in group lessons.
—Submitted by Eric Sakumura, Lawrence, Kansas