OK, So What's a Class Piano Lab?
See Class Piano Lab Resources.
In a traditional class piano lab (sometimes called a "group
piano lab"), students are at individual electronic pianos with
headphones while their teacher can monitor and interact with them
individually or in groups.
The teacher monitors and interacts with the students through a kind
of audio mixer (a "teacher controller unit" or "conferencing
system") in which are patched the audio of the individual student
pianos. Consequently, the teacher can hear an individual student play
and can play for and with an individual student without any other
students in the class hearing.
There are really two philosophies for teaching class piano:
1. teach everyone together as a group or class
2. give individual "mini-private lessons"
Philosophy #2 is generally considered to be a poor pedagogical strategy.
Teaching the class as a group does not mean that the teacher
never interacts with individual students. Of course, the teacher gets
up, walks around and observes students practice assignments, and makes
appropriate individual adjustments to posture, fingering, etc. However,
the best scenario is for the class to all be working along together
in a group.
Although this may be the luxury of college and university piano classes,
this is not always possible in elementary and secondary schools because
often a class piano class will have students with MANY different skills
levels in the same class. Consequently, it is not always possible
for the class to progress together as a group.
The new class piano lab teacher controllers (conferencing systems)
allows for the class to be divided into various groups according to
ability. Consequently, the teacher can address and teach one group while
other groups continue undisturbed with their practicing.
For example, say there is a class piano class with 16 students:
- 4 are beginners who do not read music and have trouble finding
notes on the keyboard.
- 4 have had some music instruction in band or choir and consequently
can read music and know some notes on the keyboard but have never
had "formal" piano lessons before.
- 4 have had private piano lessons several years ago and can still
read music and play simple pieces.
- 4 are advanced players who can play difficult repertory.
The teacher will be challenged to keep the students working together
within their groups according to their abilities. However, with the
assistance of a modern class piano lab controller it is very easy to
assign individuals to groups and then address or listen to them as a
group while others are undisturbed.
This is reminiscent of the old ONE-ROOM-SCHOOL-HOUSE where teachers
had similar situations. Often the difficulties were overcome by encouraging
advanced students to work with beginning students and in so doing, reinforce
concepts and practice techniques.
Additional possibilities are afforded through the use of computers
and interactive music software. It is probably naive to believe that
if a class is divided into 4 diverse groups that all students will "remain
on task" in their own personal practice while the teacher works
with other groups. A computer can be the answer to keep students involved
and engrossed in the often tedious task of learning notes and reading
music. For example, some students could be working with interactive
software on their computers learning the notes on the staff and combining
written notes with keys on their keyboards. Others could be listening
to sequences of their repertory pieces and practicing (playing) along.
Still others could be intently practicing their advanced repertory while
the teacher works with an individual group on a specific technical or
See Class Piano Lab Manufacturers.
See our Class
Piano Lab Equipment.
Back to Class Piano Lab Resources.
Contact us for information
about designing and installing a class/group piano lab in your school.