So, what are Buddy Lessons?
I first came across the concept of Buddy Lessons when I began following Colourful Keys, a piano teaching blog site run by the amazing Nicola Cantan, Dublin. I was very intrigued by the idea of Buddy Lessons and could immediately see the benefits. So, what are Buddy Lessons? Buddy Lessons are a hybrid of solo (one-to-one) and partner (shared) lessons.This is how a Buddy Lesson goes (times used for example):
3.30 Student 1 arrives for their one-to-one lesson (Solo Time)
4.00 Student 2 arrives (Buddy Time)
4.30 Student 1 leaves and Student 2 has their one-to-one lesson (Solo Time)
Both students receive a total of 1 hours tuition!
What are the Benefits?
In many ways, playing the piano can be quite a solitary pursuit. I remember attending piano lessons and often wondering what other students were working on? What did they like to play? Did they know all of their scales? Did they enjoy playing scales? (Probably not!) Were they preparing the same exam pieces that I was? But I never knew!
In Buddy Lessons students get the best of both worlds. During solo time we work on the many important concepts and technical work required to play the piano. Buddy time is for: duets, music theory games, aural training, composition, improvisation, ensemble work and performance practice. In a solo lesson we also work on some of these concepts but in a traditional 30-minute lesson there simply isn’t enough time to work on all of these concepts that contribute to a well-rounded music education.
During the past academic year (pre-COVID/pre-online teaching), two of my students had a chance to overlap. Donal (all names changed for privacy), was waiting for pick-up and sat in the studio while Sarah’s lesson started. I began to notice something – Donal was fascinated with what Sarah was working on! Sarah was delighted to play and show what she could do and they both participated in a music theory game! I knew immediately that Buddy Lessons were the way to go. They chatted and answered each others questions – it was fantastic. I’ve also had my own experience with group/peer tuition. As a teenager I was a trumpeter with the Buttevant Brass and Reed Band, Co. Cork. Because I was playing music with others, I became very tuned into rhythm and beat-keeping; watching and anticipating what others were doing; listening for cues; learning music theory, etc.
And I made life-long friends and I had the best fun.
Sharing time in a lesson is also a great motivator for practicing during the week! One student relies on the other to know their respective parts and this encourages practice as they are both working towards a common goal. These are invaluable skills a musician needs but pianists don’t often get the chance to participate in this type of joint activity. Unless your child is a flautist, a violonist, a cellist or other type of soloist you probably won’t have heard them play with another pianist. I want to change that. I want pianists in my studio to experience playing piano with others – playing duets, even trios (with me joining in)! Imagine the excitement at recital time when two or three of us step up to perform?
How to find a Buddy?
I will match up suitable buddies. If you know someone who would also like to play piano and you would like them to be your buddy just out both names down! Putting your child’s name on the list doesn’t commit you to signing them up.