Growing up, we learned in school that peer pressure causes so many negative effects: drugs, bullying, and bad behavior. But now that I’m a teacher, I look at peer pressure as a tool. Just like any other force or energy, it can be harnessed and used to create positive results.
Most beginners struggle with the multitude of problems that they face from day one. In piano lessons, that means hand position, reading, rhythm, and finger strength to name a few.
So last year I thought deeply about how to use social accountability (peer pressure with a positive connotation) to impact new beginner students in my studio. What I realized was that the performance feedback loop could be shortened from 1 year to 1 week (a 52x improvement) by having performance for new beginners every week.
What happens if you perform every week from day one?
Do students still get nervous?
Yes, students are nervous even for a group of 3 other students, their parents and their fun, but firm music teacher. It is amazing to see students who go through this process of weekly performance for months. The long term effect is a higher level of comfort with performance and a higher chance of confidence about themselves.
Students and their parents get to see other students make mistakes and what we focus on is the idea of sharing. Sharing and communicating is really what music is about. Sharing or communicating ideas or emotions through sound is what they are learning. Mistakes happen, but don’t stop the music. Think of a mistake as someone passing in front of a TV during a show. You still get the story, you just might miss a brief moment of it.
Social accountability gets beginners and their parents to start off right as performers and practicers. Group piano, if structured properly, creates a higher chance of success for a student, if they survive the class. It helps parents and students see that everyone has challenges. It uses social accountability to ensure everyone practices – since no one wants to be the student who’s behind in class. It allows everyone to learn from everyone. But most importantly, it builds friendships which will grow and develop as those students progress through your studio.