A look at group lessons: Students coaching each other
Only two of the students are present today. Student A takes her position in front of the music stand and plays through a piece. When she is done we applaud, and Julius says “Good!” He then turns to the other student and asks for his opinion. Student B gives plenty of positive feedback on her performance before asking whether she has a “breathing plan”. She replies that she has probably not given it sufficient thought.
Julius thanks student B for his comments and observations and then asks: “Shall we create a breathing plan?” Student A says she would quite like some help with that, and Julius and student B move over to the music stand so that they can see the music and decide on the best places to breathe. Julius turns to student B and invites him to take charge of the process. Student B accepts and somehow assumes the role of coach. He continues to involve student A in discussing and trying out various solutions.
Julius takes a step back in order to give the students space to work this out by themselves. He occasionally asks questions in order to encourage them to pursue an idea further. He also makes a few suggestions when the students get stuck, but even here he invites them to discuss his proposals. (Project manager Ingrid Maria Hanken's notes)
So how did the students themselves find the experience? Student A, who was the person receiving help with her breathing plan, writes in her log that she found it useful to work on her breathing. She continues: “It was fun. I thought that both NN (student B) and I played better at the end than at the beginning of the lesson. We worked together to find solutions to technical challenges, and we discussed what worked best musically.” In his log student B states that he was pleased to have commented on the breathing plan, which suggests that he found that his input was valued.
“It was fun. We worked together to find solutions to technical challenges, and we discussed what worked best musically.”
It is an express aim in Julius' project for the students to contribute actively to each other's learning, and he is therefore working consciously to encourage them and to allow them to take responsibility. The students respond that this worked well in this particular lesson: “There was a dialogue between all three of us, which I thought worked well.” “Good balance as to who was in charge. Pupil and teacher,” they write in their logs.