Teamwork makes the dreamwork
When it comes to learning a new skill, acquiring that skill in the company of others is always better than doing it alone. Take parenthood for example, being in a community of other new parents brings a sense of camaraderie as well as mutual understanding and support. I mean, who else will you text in the middle of the night when your toddler goes through sleep regression?
Learning a musical instrument is no different and for that reason, we’ve partnered with M.int Academy to learn more about its programmes and how professional performers (who also happen to the academy’s teachers) share about their students and the benefits they’ve seen. If your child or tween has ever wanted to pursue the violin, guitar or keyboard, M.int Academy provides three beginner classes which are sorted by age. Each group class will have 10 sessions followed by two 50-minute ensemble rehearsals, culminating in a Final Performance (aka bust out those cameras, parents!).
The Andante class (max. 3 students per class): Violin (ages 3-5), Guitar (ages 6-8), Keyboard (ages 4-5)
The Moderato class (max. 4 students per class): Violin (ages 6-8), Guitar (ages 9-11), Keyboard (ages 6-8)
The Allegro class (max. 4 students per class): Violin (ages 9-11), Guitar (ages 12-14), Keyboard (ages 9-11)
We chat with two of M.int Academy’s violin teachers, Ruda Lee and Jacob Reina Caro who give us six reasons why learning in a group setting vastly improves your child’s ability to pick up their instrument.
Ruda, in your opinion, what are your top three benefits of teaching through a group instrumental class?
I believe that students in group instrumental classes are able to motivate each other by imitation, interaction, and performance with peers, which they cannot learn on their own in private lessons. They also develop physical skills by synchronising and coordinating both hands which is a great habit to form for the younger children. As for the older children, being in a group class cultivates social skills by interacting and communicating with their peers. At M.int Academy, students will collaborate to create music together and work towards a common musical goal.
Jacob, what three benefits have you seen from teaching your students in a group setting?
I have seen my students grow in their discipline and patience by playing together in an ensemble – not an easy feat! Students will learn to be patient and to respect fellow musicians; as well as to sit still and be quiet for a designated period of time. Students will also improve academic skills by understanding beat, rhythm and scales, students are learning to recognise patterns and learning mathematical skills along the way. Two birds with one stone! Lastly, one of the greatest benefits of a group class is that I’ve seen it boost self-esteem across the board. My students are encouraged to be supportive of each other and appreciative of each other’s musical skills.
Ruda, can you share a special moment in one of your group classes?
Sure, I have two students in my Group Violin Moderato (ages 6-8) class – Students A and B. I had taught Student A privately for about a month and suggested that she join the group violin class alongside her private lessons in order to broaden her horizons. Student B was a complete beginner and joined the course with no prior violin knowledge.
In the beginning of the course, Student A’s level of violin playing was naturally at a higher level than that of Student B. Whenever I asked questions in the class, Student A would answer my questions immediately while Student B did not even have the chance to answer. I was worried about the dynamics in the class with students of different levels but what transpired afterwards surprised me. Student B became extra attentive and focused in order to catch up with Student A.
Whenever Student A would play something in class, Student B would concentrate more by observing how Student A holds the bow and how she moves her fingers. His progress was remarkable and he soon caught up within a few sessions. The group situation worked out very well for Student A as well, as I firmly believe that music should be enjoyed with others, and not just alone. She gained a lot of confidence in the group class since she had the chance to show off her musical skills by playing in front of her peer. Now, Student B is capable of answering questions as fast as Student A, and it has been an absolute pleasure to watch them grow as violinists together.
Jacob, can you share a moment in your classes where you’ve seen the benefits of a group dynamic?
I have three students in my Group Violin Andante (ages 3-5) class. The main benefit I have seen in the group setting is learning by imitation. In a group setting, my students are much more motivated to learn faster and learn more than other students. For students at such a young age, it is easy for them to lose concentration, but since they are in a group, it is much easier for me as the instructor to redirect their concentration back to what the rest of class is doing, since their fellow classmates are all performing the same exercises. Whether it is practicing bow exercises or learning the names of violin strings, my students have a friendly competition amongst each other to put forth their best effort and respond correctly and quickly. I believe that these dynamics make for a fun and effective learning environment.