A common misconception is that “group guitar lessons don’t work”. Well, as an experienced guitar teacher, I can tell you that anyone who thinks this is very wrong.
It’s really more a matter of the student, the group and the approach taken by the teacher. In fact there are many benefits to learning in a group:
- Make Friends
- Learn from other students
- Students develop improved communication skills
- Students develop self confidence
- Students play ensemble pieces, where different guitarists play different layers within the same song
- Content is reinforced as students work together and “teach” each other, which improves understanding through additional discussion and explanation
- Students can utilise their playing strengths within the group
- Students are accountable to each other
- Students can receive high quality tuition at a greatly reduced price
- Students strive to keep up with the other group members
The real key for guitar teachers is to focus on having the group play together and improve at similar levels. Many parents are concerned about every student no improving at the same pace, but guess what – the odds of everyone in a group progress at the exact same pace in the exact same areas is slim to none. It just doesn’t happen. It’s just like cars driving on a freeway – there are people travelling at all kinds of speeds (often regardless of the speed limit!). Rather, it’s the job of a teacher to facilitate the learning of all students and helping each accordingly. This does mean that some students need more attention at times, but luckily with guitar we can play songs that allow students to repeatedly practice and rehearse aspects, which makes this process much more enjoyable and effective for all students involved.
So how do we know if a student is better suited for group or private lessons? In my experience, it has nothing to do with skill level, the student’s age, or learning pace. They simply need to be able to pay attention and not be excessively disruptive. Even if they struggle in these areas, we typically have students playing songs for the majority of their lesson, which means their mind is occupied and they stay focused. If a student has special needs or finds guitar to be exceptionally difficult, then they may be better off on their own.
In summary – there are plenty of benefits when learning in a group, aside from the reduced price. As long as there’s a suitable class with a teacher who takes the right approach, almost anyone should be well suited to learning in a small group environment of 4-7 people.