Private Versus Group Music Lessons: A Comprehensive Guide

private versus group music lessons
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Music helps us express ourselves creatively, and there are many possible permutations in its learning process. Budding musicians will need to practice by themselves, but they also benefit from lessons. The decision usually comes down to private versus group music lessons, both of which have perks.

For example, private lessons are wonderful for students who want tailored instruction and one-on-one time with their teachers. This allows them to focus on specific skills like scales or become more experienced in their style of choice.

Group lessons, by comparison, are excellent for those looking for collaborative, ensemble-style practices and performances. These students will learn a lot from their teachers and fellow musicians, some of whom may already be active in the music scene and be able to provide invaluable advice.

Here’s a little more information about private versus group music lessons to help you decide which will be the best fit for your learning needs.

The Advantages and Disadvantages of Private Music Lessons

You will get a lot of individualized attention if you choose private lessons in the private versus group music lessons debate, and will likely progress quite quickly if you put that constructive criticism into practice. 

Pros of Private Lessons

1. Specialization

Private lessons are good for anyone interested in personalized feedback to help them improve on a specific instrument, piece, or in a particular genre. Classical music requires enhanced finesse, for example, while jazz necessitates training in how to improvise within a specific key signature. Woodwind instruments focus on breathwork to create clear notes, while stringed instruments require specific hand positioning and movements to do the same.

2. Tailored Tutoring

Working with an instructor outside of a group means you can direct the learning process. You might request to work on a certain scale, song, or progression within a piece, for example, but don’t always have this option in group lessons.

3. One-on-One Time

Private lessons mean individualized attention. You can ask questions or repeat musical phrases that are giving you trouble without interrupting the flow of a multi-student lesson, and your instructor can stop and correct you if he or she notices a mistake. This leads to quicker progression.

Cons of Private Lessons

1. Cost

Private lessons can be more costly than group lessons because you are reserving one-on-one time with an instructor, which means the fee is not split up among multiple students.

2. Limited Interaction

Taking a private lesson is just that — private. You won’t be surrounded by other budding musicians looking to make connections with their student peers, and therefore won’t be able to socialize while learning your craft.

3. Limited Feedback

Private lessons mean you get one teacher’s undivided attention, but that also means you’re only getting one person’s take on your progress. Group settings offer the option to study how peers are tackling challenging sheet music or instrument-related problems. You can also pick the brains of others who are progressing at a faster pace.

Some Notes on Group Music Lessons

There are plenty of benefits to private lessons that might make it seem like they win in private versus group music lessons, but ensemble-style practices have perks of their own. For starters, group lessons are a lot of fun and offer opportunities for exciting collaborations.

Pros of Group Music Lessons

1. More Options for Socializing

When you practice and learn as a group, you become bonded with the musicians around you. Working with an ensemble makes you invested in others’ growth as well as your own, and helps you create a lot of strong friendships in the process.

2. Personal Growth

It can be tricky to practice in front of others because of the fear of making mistakes, but group lessons help you get over that concern. You will quickly learn that each student makes errors, and that everyone can learn from their own as well as those of the group. You might also pick up some tips from your fellow students, like more effective posture, at-home practice strategies, and breathing tricks.

3. Collaboration with Others

Group lessons also teach you valuable skills in how to work constructively with others. You will learn how to stay in rhythm with everyone around you, tune your instrument correctly, and perfect your part of a piece to improve the sound of the entire group.

Group Music Lesson Cons

1. Fewer Opportunities for Feedback

Private lessons offer constant opportunity for individualized feedback, but group lessons do not have the same flexibility. Be prepared for more generalized commentary overall and fewer directly personalized notes on your performance.

2. Less Control Over Setting

The more people involved, the more personalities are involved as well. Group lessons mean multiple practice and performance styles must come together, which could be distracting for some students. One musician might be very driven and ready to learn, for example, while another might be more interested in purely social interactions and less focused on musical progression.

3. Less Control Over Pace

It’s easy to ask questions or repeat elements of a piece when you’re by yourself, but group lessons must remain focused on the needs and progress of the group. You will not have the opportunity to stop an entire lesson to repeat a difficult run several times until you’ve nailed it, for example, and will instead have to make a note to practice that item on your own after class.

Where Do You Fall On Private Versus Group Music Lessons?

The truth is that instruction is beneficial no matter where you end up on the private versus group music lessons scale. You’ll learn more about yourself, your practice style and music tastes, and the instrument you’ve chosen to master. All of those things will make you a better musician — and student — in the long run.

If you’re ready to sign up for private or group music lessons, there’s only one thing left to do. Contact Sloan School of Music today for more information! We can’t wait to help you along your musical journey.

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