Private Music Lessons vs Group Music Classes

You’ve decided to start music lessons and you’ve even decided on an instrument.  Now you’re thinking about scheduling and finances, which begs the question: Are private music lessons or group classes better?

Deciding how much time and money to invest in your/ your child’s musical future can be tricky, but finding the right balance between time, money, and musical goals is essential for success and progress. Whether you’re looking for music lessons for adults or children, in this article, we’ll examine the pros and cons of private and group lessons to make that decision easier.

Private Lessons

Taking private lessons has a few obvious benefits, the most important of which is that the lesson is, well, private.  In a private lesson, literally 100% of the instructor’s attention is on the student; the teacher’s sole purpose is to guide and teach to the student’s specific learning needs and musical goals.  Along with this, a private lesson ensures that every lesson is specifically planned and designed with the student’s progress in mind.

Because private music lessons are planned for just one student at a time, the lesson pace goes as fast as the student progresses.  If the student is absent, the teacher picks up where they left off from the last lesson.  If the student needs to go back and review a concept, there’s time to do so because the timeline is fitted to each particular student.  In a group setting, however, lessons continue regardless of student attendance, and it’s easy to fall behind.

Private lessons also allow for more time to dig deeper into musical understanding.  Because students typically have more say with regards to repertoire selection in a private setting (as lessons are custom-tailored), the experience is far deeper and more personal.  In a one-on-one setting, teacher and student can collaborate and work together to find the most authentic interpretation of the repertoire for the most musical experience.  Additionally, there is more time to practice memorization and note reading, as well as music theory and sight-reading, on a more immersive level, whereas a group class mildly glazes over these subjects.

While a private lesson may cost more than a group lesson, it’s clear that students get a lot more bang for their buck from that invaluable one-on-one time.

Group Lessons

Group music lessons for adults (or children) are beneficial to students who are seeking the social aspects of music.  Frequently the classes are laid-back and informal, and give students ample opportunity to practice ensemble play and ear training.  Essentially, group classes foster camaraderie and community among students of similar experience and ability.  However, this can be dangerous for students who are prone to distraction and get overly caught up in the social aspects of a group lesson.  It’s very difficult to recover focus and get back on track once the learning dynamic is interrupted with an overly social learning environment.

Furthermore, group classes can be hard to manage on a consistent basis due to the various conflicting schedules, and while time-wise they last longer every week than a private lesson might, students get inconsistent and impersonal instructional time, which slows the learning process.

Lastly, group lessons frequently teach to the middle or lowest level of understanding to make sure the group is moving at the same pace.  For a more serious musician or quick study, this slower pace can kill motivation and even create resentment towards music and music study, the opposite desired effect.

All of this said, a lot of the associated benefits of group classes can still be found through private instruction.  If it’s performance opportunities you seek, private lessons often come paired with multiple recitals throughout the year.  If you value the camaraderie of a group, you can always supplement private lessons with a jam session or put together an ensemble to rehearse regularly. With the music lesson options for students of all ages at The International School of Music, your love for music and your instrument will only continue to grow.

For more information on private music instruction, guitar lessons, piano lessons, or any other instrument, please visit, or call 301.365.5888 to schedule your introductory lesson today!