About our Private and Group Lessons at GISC
I am looking forward to an other great school year at German International School Chicago!
For those parents that consider enrolling their child in our popular piano private lessons after-school program, the following might be of interest.
The piano lesson after school program is a great opportunity for GISC children to get introduced to the king among all instruments, the piano/keyboard.
The piano is arguably the most rewarding instrument to be introduced to the world of music, and playing it has proven extremely beneficial to the development of a child.
At GISC we offer 30 minute time-slots for private and group lessons (2-3 children) every afternoon (on school days only) starting at 3.15 PM.
We try to assign the early times to the youngest children, but because of scheduling conflicts, this may not always be possible.
Who can sign up at what age
Generally every child, no younger than age 5, with some exceptions.
From my experience, most children under the age of 5 don’t have the qualifications (coordination, focus, passion, and endurance) to take piano lessons successfully. Those that are successful usually have a parent who knows how to play or an other qualified person helping them practice.
However, if you think your child under the age of 5 is ready, we are happy to give it a try. After all, I would hate to turn down the next Mozart, just because of age limitations.
Time slots are limited
We have a lot of requests for piano lessons at GISC. For this reason we want to make sure we only enroll children that show real interest, thus are willing to practice frequently and pay attention during their lesson. Of course most children are exited when starting something new. Only time will tell how exited they really are.
Each piano student is given the opportunity to perform. This said, only those children that really want to perform and are well prepared will be allowed to perform. No one has to perform that doesn’t want to.
About Private Lessons and Group Lessons
Private Lesson or Group Lesson
Older children are generally better suited for private lessons whereas young children usually benefit more from group lessons, unless they are very talented.
The advantage of group lessons is that they get little breaks while listening to the other students, have healthy competition that hopefully motivates them to practice more, and they learn how to behave and play in a group.
About Private Lessons
Private lessons are great for students that are really excited about playing and practicing, and those that feel intimidated or slowed down within a group.
About Group Lessons
Taking group lessons is a great solution for children that have never played piano before and would like to give it a shot.
Group lessons are much cheeper
First, group lessons have the benefit of being much cheeper than private lessons.
Group lessons have real advantages
Although each child can not be given the same amount of one-on-one time as in a private lesson, there are many benefits to a group lesson. The following describes some of the benefits.
During group lessons, each child has its own full size digital keyboard. This allows them to either practice on their own with head phones, or play music with others in the group. Playing together teaches them many things. For example, it prepares them for playing in a band or an orchestra. Playing music with others is also a lot of fun and focuses the mind.
Playing together in a group teaches them:
- To listen to others while playing,
- To keep their place in the music,
- about the importance of playing in time,
- that they need more practice,
- among other things.
The Matching Question
We always try to match up the children by level and age first. In a perfect world, the children know and like each other, and are equally exited about learning how to play piano, and yes – they also develop at the same pace.
The good news is, that it doesn’t really matter too much how well the kids fit together, because I have developed a teaching method that works even with children at different levels of ability.
How I teach Group Lessons
At the same piano (matching children)
When I teach matching children something new, we all sit at the same piano with me. Every child learns the same song and technique exercises.
Of course they also get to play together on separate keyboards once they know how to play a song or passage. Each child then gets assigned a different keyboard sound, and I play the accompaniment.
separate pianos (non-matching children)
When the children are very different in age, level, and learning ability, I simply split them up and switch to an “Interval training” type lesson.
This means that each of them alternates between 5 minutes of private instruction, and practicing on their own.
For that I assign each child her/his own keyboard with head phones.
I found this method extremely successful. In fact, for some children it is the ideal way of learning, because they prefer to practice what they just learned at their own pace privately, instead without of having someone else watch them all the time.
Piano For Little Fingers Book
Two years ago I introduced the first edition of my Piano For Little Fingers book which I created specifically for my pupils at GISC.
The book has greatly simplified the teaching process, and the children love it.
I require every student to have a copy of my (145 pages) book, which is only about 20 Dollars. (I do not make any profit. I only charge you for the printing costs.) You will also get a free copy of the book in form of a pdf after purchasing it.
The book includes many well known German and American songs in many different styles and genre, all arranged by me specifically for young children.
For many of the songs in the book I created video tutorials you can find on this website and watch with your child for free.
What all parents of my piano pupils should know
Your child needs an instrument
It is very important that you provide your child with an adequate instrument right from the start. You don’t have to spend a lot of money on it. For 250-400 Dollars you can already get a fine digital 88 keys piano.
Your child needs your help
Children between the ages of 4-7 are very much dependent on
someone to help them during their practice sessions. Usually it is one of the parents, but it can also be a babysitter or another family member. Ideally, the person plays a little bit of piano, but I have created video tutorials that should make it easy for you to help your child, even for those that do not play piano.
Practicing regularly is the only way a child will improve. That’s why it is very important you schedule practice time for your child, ideally at the same time, every day.
How long? For very young children anywhere between 5-15 minutes. Generally is is better to practice more frequently and shorter, than only a few times for a long periot.
Please also visit PianoForLittleFingers.com/FAQ