Thirty minute lessons

Posted by: pat

Thirty minute lessons - 07/02/06 03:26 AM

I would be greatly interested in how to organize a thirty minute lesson, so as to include sightreading, ear training, theory and lesson book/supplemental sheet music.

Posted by: cecilly

Re: Thirty minute lessons - 07/02/06 09:26 AM

Pat, I taught 30 min. lessons for years with the same ideals that you've described. Unfortunately, 30 min. is so limiting time-wise that it's nearly impossible to include all of these elements of piano study and do any one justice over the long haul. I pride myself on being a very efficient teacher (allowing no waste time during a lesson), but w only 30 min. sightreading was limited to having the student read thru HS/HT as able a little bit of whatever was being assigned. Ear training was reserved for those lessons when the student was not very prepared or for special "game" days, and theory (written activities) were often rushed against my liking. I simply did the best I could to touch upon these things in ways that would prove purposeful toward the students' learning their new pieces.

Now I teach 40 min. lessons and love it. Even tho it is only 10 min., I feel like I can work in all of these other important things w/o feeling so pressured. I'll never go back to 30 min. lessons.

Good luck
Posted by: pat

Re: Thirty minute lessons - 07/03/06 12:56 AM

Thanks, I give hourly lessons so I can get all of those things in that I think are necessary, and though some teachers would argue about this one, I think taking a bit of time to converse with the student is important. Some kids come in here all stressed out, and giving them three or four minutes to unwind makes the lesson go better.

Your use of the word "pressure" may be the key. If kids and teachers feel rushed to get everything in, that's just the way it comes across.

In the old days, teachers gave two thirty minute lessons a week. That worked back then. In today's world, parents just wouldn't bring them to lessons twice a week.

But if it were sports? Oh, I won't get into that one. Our kids do sports every day of the week and some nights.

It has gotten crazy.
Posted by: Manon Troppo

Re: Thirty minute lessons - 07/05/06 03:36 PM

Originally posted by pat:

But if it were sports? Oh, I won't get into that one. Our kids do sports every day of the week and some nights.

It has gotten crazy.
AMEN! True that! I've lost a good amount of students because of sports and other extracurricular activities. When people get too busy (or have too many commitments), music lessons usually get axed first. But I won't get into that, either. I don't want to open a can of worms again. :p

GOOD thing you're not going back to 30-minute lessons! \:D I'll NEVER come back to quickie lessons! (Plus I felt like running a "student mill" anyway when I used to teach 30-minute sessions!) Your actual teaching time is 20-25 minutes in a so-called 30-minute session, so it is a horribly short period of time. I've found that at least 45 minutes per week will help students progress more quickly and more materials are covered. I've found that longer lessons are much more productive and effective.
Posted by: Mrs. Q

Re: Thirty minute lessons - 07/07/06 08:19 AM

OK, I'll offer the totally opposite opinion! ;\) AND this is a ridiculously LONG post so skip it now, if you're not in for a NOVEL!! :rolleyes:

I only do 30 min. lessons (or rarely 1-hour lessons). Here's how it approximately breaks down:

2 min. - Greetings and practice report from parent.

8 min. - Play all assigned pieces from previous lesson. Re-assign review pieces. All my students do review pieces to work on "polish" and technique, it helps them to play more musically. (I use this 8-min. time frame as a guage only! If students take longer, I know immediately that they either didn't do proper practice or the material was too difficult. If students end at 6 minutes, again I'm approximating, I know the material is far too easy.)

13 min. - Intro new concept or continue with current concept and assign new pieces. Note: my students analyze and sight-read all new material.

5 min. - Theory/Ear Training Book: but only theory related to the concepts we are currently studying. Other music theory is reinforced throughout the lessons. Also we do ALOT of ear training in our analyzing.

2 min. - Recap of assignment, report to parents, and parting words.

Now here is the method to the madness:

Most of my students are younger and beginners. Notice that I do not ever assign a specific number of pieces--though I do try to make sure they have at least one piece or page in each book. I find that however long it takes a student to learn new material at a lesson is going to take them about 2 times longer to practice on their own, initially. So 13 min. of new material = about 26-30 min. of practice at home. This amount of practice time is about all that beginners, especially young ones, can handle. As they practice each day though, they will be gaining mastery and the amount of practice time needed should decrease through the week until it takes them less time than it did to initially sight-read it as new material. That is why there is only 8 min. given to go over the assigned material.

Again, all my times are APPROXIMATIONS ONLY! There are times when it is necessary and right to deviate from the plan above. I truly believe in gearing lessons for each specific student's abilities, motivations, and overall success. That is why I base my assignments on a timeframe instead of a number of pieces. A very gifted student may be able to progress through 10 or more pieces, while another student may only have 3 new pieces and 2 reivew pieces. I believe it is my responsibility as a teacher and ethical business person to provide my students with independent musicianship.

Also, I write brief lesson assessments (for my eyes only) at the end of the teaching day for each lesson that include strengths, weaknesses, practice habits, external events going on in the student's life that would effect their progress, etc. So I make a point to KNOW my students very well, in a personal and detailed way. Don't mistake small talk for really getting to know someone or showing that you care. Then I review the more recent assessments before the student comes in for their next lesson.

I only do 1-hour lessons for those older/more advanced students who have expressed interest in pursuing a career in music or just want to become involved in more serious/performance-based study. In those lessons we have larger assignments and we are continually working on at least one "recital-type" piece.

On the business side of teaching, here is why I do 30 min. lessons. I can do back-to-back lessons, either 30-min. or 60-min. lessons and fit more lessons into what is usually a limited teaching day(for most of us 3pm-9pm)anyway. My parents understand that the parent-teacher reports are part of the lesson time. I believe in using the lesson time very efficiently "no wasted lesson time" as another person recently posted. I have very high standards for my students and for myself as an instructor. I do not believe that 30-min. lessons mean you are running a "student-mill." I do quite a bit of record-keeping work outside of the lesson time to ensure that the lessons are as personal and effective as possible.

Again many apologies about the length!! \:o
Posted by: Susan

Re: Thirty minute lessons - 07/08/06 07:37 AM

As someone who had 30 minute lessons for years, I agree that it can be done and does not have to be a student mill.
However now that I have switched over to 45 minute lessons for everyone, including young beginners, I can really see wonderful results. The biggest result is that the students are getting through lesson books quicker and progressing faster. I have found that students can progress more when they have longer lessons.
I did not have one parent complain when I switched over to 45 minute lessons. I thought I would have about 20% drop lessons, but that did not happen.
Posted by: AnnelieseDanae

Re: Thirty minute lessons - 07/08/06 09:35 AM

I have a few students who only have 30 minute lessons and they're all my more advanced students. I'd really like to see them having longer lessons, but all the families with more advanced students have 3 to 5 kids per family taking from me and I know they can't afford it. I try to make sure that we can get as much in as possible, but we've gotten in the routine of what we do at lessons and how long it takes to do everything and don't have any problems keeping in that time slot, though I do wish it was longer. I have a 12 year old student whose only taken for a year and is starting PA 3B this fall and Grade 6 in Just The Facts theory. She's flying along, but she has 45 minute lessons. I wonder if it makes that much of a difference? Though I'm happy to report that I'm blessed to have fast progressing students. But....should I just tell parents who only have 30 minute lessons that their child needs more if they really want to progress faster.
Posted by: Arlene Steffen

Re: Thirty minute lessons - 07/08/06 08:32 PM

Originally posted by AnnelieseDanae:
I'd really like to see them having longer lessons, but all the families with more advanced students have 3 to 5 kids per family taking from me and I know they can't afford it.
Have you ever given them the option? I wouldn't try to make a financial decision for someone else. You can never real know it. Tell them what you would like to do, what the cost will be and let them make the decision. You might be pleasantly surprised. If they think it is important enough, they'll find a way to do it.
Posted by: Musical Mom

Re: Thirty minute lessons - 07/09/06 05:04 AM

Thanks Mrs. Q for your detailed report of a 30 minute lesson. I've always wanted someone to tell me how they structure their lesson time to see if it matches what I do. Yours does match mine! I wish I had more time to give 45 minute lessons, but as with you I feel I'm doing my best in the 30 minute time slots that I have. Thanks everyone for your insights on the 30 and 45 minute lessons!
Posted by: AnnelieseDanae

Re: Thirty minute lessons - 07/09/06 11:38 AM

What if I've already offered it to parents and they don't ever answer even when I tell them how beneficial it'll be. I can never get a straight answer. Is that just their way of saying no? Maybe I should just say point blank- "at their age and level ability they must have a longer lesson." should I word that?
Posted by: Arlene Steffen

Re: Thirty minute lessons - 07/09/06 12:01 PM

Offering it and actually asking them to do it are two different things. You must be direct. Next time, I'd reiterate what you would be offering (don't just say "a longer lesson", but include what that lesson will include that is currently not available in 30 minutes). Then I'd ask something like, "I'd like to start this program for Susie this fall. The cost for this program is $$$. Is that OK with you?"

Each summer when I send out my fall enrollment form, I have parents mark their tuition plan. You could do something similar and have the 30 minute and 45 minute programs already "pre-selected" for each student on the form. If they don't want to do it, they'll let you know.

I teach only 45 minute lessons so I don't have this problem, but this is how I might approach it.
Posted by: alidoremi

Re: Thirty minute lessons - 07/09/06 12:41 PM

This past year I had three students who I knew would really benefit from 45 minute lessons, yet they were doing 30 min. They were at CM level 2 and Guild in the Spring. Throughout the year I would comment periodically to the parents (as they sit in on their child's lesson each week) that we were really 'crunched for time' with such a short lesson, or that 'next year CM lev 3 will need much more preparation with theory and technique', etc... letting the parents know that 30 minutes just wasn't cutting it. So the parents kind of knew all year long that NEXT year we'd be going to 45 minutes. I'd prepared them way ahead as to the cost and by the time registration for the Fall came around they didn't blink and signed up.
Posted by: Susan

Re: Thirty minute lessons - 07/09/06 12:54 PM

Anneliese, when I switched over to all 45 minute lessons, I didn't give the parents a choice. I already had about half my studio in 45 minute lessons, but I knew the others would not do it unless I made them. For a year, every new student was not given the option. I only quoted the 45 minute tuition. I took in a few more students than I really wanted, so that if some parents got upset and quit, I would still have a full studio. In the spring I sent out a letter outlining my new policy and the very good reasons behind it. I was surprised when everyone stayed aboard, except for a few who were going to quit anyway.
You could do what Arlene suggested for a few years. Later you might feel secure enough to require all 45 minute lessons. When you do, you'll love it.
As a side note, I had a piano student quit a few years ago, because her dance studio informed her that she would HAVE to take dance several hours a day, 5 days a week. The studio said that at her level of talent and ability, that was what she had to do. If they can do it in dance, we should be able to do it in piano.
Posted by: AnnelieseDanae

Re: Thirty minute lessons - 07/09/06 04:24 PM

Thanks for the advice ya'll. I may just start telling new people who want to start that I offer 45 minute lessons to all students (except those who I know are too young to go that long... or maybe I know I can't keep their attention span that long). I may just inform parents after the first month of lessons that they're just too advanced and old to have simply 30 minute lessons. Shouldn't be a problem I don't think.
Thanks agaiN!