Flute lessons: is it better to study one-to-one or in a group?
New flautists are faced with the decision of whether they’d prefer to learn one-to-one with their teacher, or alternatively to undertake a group class with their teacher and another student. Both private and group flute classes have their benefits for the emerging flautist; it is just a matter of knowing what will best fit you. Let’s see what the benefits of each of these methods are.
It will go without saying that a student will receive much more personalized attention if they are studying one-to-one with their teacher rather than in a group class. The teacher’s time will be 100% dedicated to the student and will focus entirely on what the student needs to work on and what they want to play. Lessons with two students will obviously see the teacher’s attention and focus divided between them which could negatively impact the students’ learning.
This is an especially difficult situation if the students are playing the flute at different levels; if one student is struggling, it is natural for the teacher to focus on that student leaving the more accomplished player to their own devices. It is imperative that flute teachers ensure that both of their students are of a similar playing level before they begin lessons otherwise they risk boredom for the better player or an overwhelmed student who may be struggling.
Learning by others’ mistakes is a great benefit when it comes to learning a musical instrument. If you’re undertaking lessons with another student, not only will you have the benefit of your own learning, you’ll also be able to see where they are going wrong and pick up tips from them when they play well. This leads to a more complete understanding of the flute for new students.
We are naturally more motivated when we are working with another student as we will compare our own standard of playing against the people we play with. If your lesson partner is moving slightly ahead of you in their flute playing, you will naturally be inspired to work harder and practice more in order to keep up.
In addition, your fellow student is a handy person to bounce ideas off, particularly if you’re too reserved to discuss your thoughts with your teacher (this is particularly applicable amongst younger flute players). Your student partner is in a unique position in that they are in the same boat as you.
Most teachers and experienced players would agree that you need to decide which method of teaching is best for you before you dive straight into private or group classes. If you think that you require intensity and focus from your teacher and may get distracted by another student, it’s definitely best to opt for private flute lessons. However, if you’re in need of a little motivation and particularly if you have mastered the basics of the flute, you may really benefit from the different perspectives on learning that you can glean from an additional student. As ever, it’s important to be open and honest with your teacher so they can make sure that they’re working in a way that’s best for you and your learning, whether or not you decide to opt for private or group classes.
Make the wise decision but do not sweat it too much. The important thing is to enjoy the experience and learn in a manner both enjoyable and enriching. You will benefit more from having the satisfaction of knowing you accomplish your purpose of learning to play music from this wonderful instrument. Take your flute lessons from competent teachers and you will surely learn not just music but lifelong lessons to help you grow intellectually, emotionally and spiritually.