Private vs. Group Lessons: Pros and Cons

Now that you’ve purchased your child the musical instrument of their choice it’s time to decide whether you want them to be trained one-on-one or in a group setting. If you aren’t sure which option is the right fit, you aren’t alone- it isn’t uncommon for parents to be unsure, especially since there are benefits to each. Each has its own advantages and disadvantages, but once you evaluate your child’s experience level, learning style, and personality, the decision should become much clearer. Let’s review the pros and cons of each type of music training so you can make a better informed decision for your child.

Advantages of Group Lessons

Since group lessons tend to run longer than private lessons, students will have more time with the instructor in the classroom. It’s a common misconception that students enrolled in group lessons don’t have one-on-one time with their instructor, as most group instructors make sure to spend quality time with each one of their students. Motivation is another key advantage of enrolling your child in group lessons. In many cases, a student in group lessons will observe what the other students are doing and will desire to play as well as them. This positive peer pressure could motivate your child to practice more frequently, as they won’t want to be the weak link in the group. Finally, students who learn to play comfortably in front of their peers will probably have an easier time managing their nerves during a recital or performance. If your child seems overly nervous or self-doubting in other areas of their life, connecting with others in a group setting may help.

Disadvantages of Group Lessons

Of course, there are a few disadvantages to group lessons. First, they’re difficult to schedule. Since there are many different students involved, finding a time that’s convenient for everyone may prove to be difficult. With private lessons, the teacher may work around your schedule and find a time that works for both parties. But, with group lessons, you’ll likely have to work your own schedule around the lesson. In some cases, students may take the social aspect a bit too far- if your child has trouble concentrating or seems to spend too much time socializing in the classroom, you may want to consider switching to private lessons. Finally, group music lessons don’t focus on note reading and music theory as much as private lessons do. If your child already knows how to read music, group lessons won’t be a problem. But, if they’re new to music completely and you’d prefer for them to learn music theory and note reading right off the bat, private lessons might be the better choice.

Advantages of Private Lessons

Students who have the benefit of one-on-one lessons will receive the teacher’s full attention for the entirety of their lesson. Additionally, private lessons will be planned and tailored to the unique needs and learning style of your child. For example, if your child is struggling with their posture the teacher is more likely to address the issue in a private lessons than they would in a group setting. If your child has to miss a private lesson due to sickness or a family emergency, the teacher will pick up where they left off. The same isn’t so in a group setting, where your child will have to catch up on their own because the rest of the class has already moved on to another concept. Finally, private lessons will allow your child to work at his or her own pace. If your child tends to learn at a slower pace or requires after-school tutoring at school, private lessons will likely be the best choice for them as the instructor can focus more on improving their individual technique and playing style.

Disadvantages of Private Lessons

One area where private lessons are at a disadvantage is in regards to the social aspect of learning music. If you’d like a space for your child to make friends and interact with other children their own age while learning how to read and play music, private music lessons aren’t the place to do it. Finally, cost is another disadvantage to enrolling your child in private lessons. Since the teacher is giving their undivided attention to your child, private lessons tend to be a lot more expensive than group lessons. If you’re on a tight budget and cost is an issue, group lessons are the better choice. Ultimately, there are two benefits of group lessons that you just won’t find in private lessons: community and camaraderie. To make up for this, many music studios that offer private lessons also offer monthly jam sessions, recitals, and mixers where students can meet each other and hang out.

Which is Right for My Child?

As you can probably tell, there is no right or wrong answer. Your child will learn how to play an instrument in either lesson format, so it just depends on what you think will work best for your child. If your child thrives in social environments, group lessons may be the right choice. If your child typically requires one-on-one attention, private lessons may be better. Typically, lessons can be stopped at any time so, if you still aren’t sure, enroll your child in one type, see how they adapt, and you can always switch them to the other format.
For more information about lessons offered through Music & Arts, check out our Lessons Page.

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