Effective Suzuki violin group lesson planning varies greatly depending on the size of the Suzuki class. While having a small class may be easier in some aspects, it also presents challenges in keeping the Suzuki students motivated and engaging them. Here are some ideas that can guide you as you prepare for a smaller Suzuki class.
Tips For Teaching Small Suzuki Violin Classes
1. Plan for more activities
In a large group, the kids tend to feed from each other’s energy. In a smaller group you will not have that natural energy or “fun social factor” created just by the numbers. Also the activities will take shorter time due to the number of kids. So you will need to prepare for more activities and change the activity often.
This especially important to know if you are teaching as a guest or if you might have students missing. The difference in size will greatly affect the way the lesson will go. Being mindful of that as a teacher will lead to more successful and engaging group classes.
Additional resource: I just finished a post with detailed ideas on how to teach Pre-Twinkle small group classes. Check it out here.
2. Work on different repertoire
Teaching a small class is a excellent way for a teacher to explore different types of instruction.
Teach them a round, find a nice trio or duets to the Suzuki pieces, incorporate note reading and sight reading at the end of each group class.
3. Engage the Suzuki violin parents
One way to make the class bigger and more exciting? Add the parents. Engage them in the lesson by actually having them do things with their children. Here are some activities the parents can be asked to:
- Work with a child on a specific problem. This is especially helpful when working in mixed level classes.
- Game: everyone finds their parents, play a piece working on moving left elbow while the teacher walks around and checks.Then play a different piece but find a different parent to work on a different technical element.
- Be funny. Have the parents add to the “fun” factor of the class. Here are two games to start with.
- Game: ask one student to play out of tune or something wrong on purpose. Instead of the students finding out who that students is, the parents can be engaged in finding out “what is wrong”.
- Game: This is great for Pre-Twinkle Suzuki violin group classes. Ask the parents to play a song (for pre-Twinkle and dep. on parents level of playing) Ask the students to find a certain “fault” in their parents posture-whether they had soft hands, if they moved their elbow, etc.
4. Add mini recitals as a part of Suzuki violin group classes
Having students perform as much as possible is an important part of Suzuki education. Performing in a small group is an excellent way for the students to gain confidence in a supportive setting. While having a mini recital within a huge class can be overwhelming, adding that element in a small setting will be a great opportunity for your students to gain confidence while in a small and supportive setting. If you feel that the students are timid, start with the teacher modeling. Play one piece for the students in a “recital” mode at the end of every class. After a few classes, see if a student wants to present their piece. Always be very supportive after a students plays for the class.
5. Master class within the Suzuki violin group lessons
Following the previous idea, master class can be a good group class structure at any stage of development. Try it once a month or more regularly. For younger students, add a fun element to it. students can learn giving each other positive feedback after it. They could play something “silly” for the class right after having a more serious master class lesson. Or they can finish the master class group classes with cookies and refreshments that all parents would bring and share. Incorporating master class within the group lessons is very valuable experience to more experienced students who may be feeling the need for different instruction at the upper book levels.
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