Why One Hour?

The real cost of tuition. An interesting outcome to our small scale 'study'.

We were asked earlier in the year if it was possible in some cases to hold shorter private music lessons at Music Skills. To see if this is possible we’ve been looking into the effect that session length has on the effectiveness and overall value of lessons.


One hour sessions have always been the Music Skills way ever since the first sessions, teaching drums and developing the Music Skills System almost 20 years ago. An hour gives enough time to recap and improve on previous material and then cover new material in enough depth for the student to understand it fully and start committing the techniques to long term memory. But there is more to it than that and we noticed the “value equation” appeared the more we looked at it.


In our research we have found that sessions of 30 minute length offer, at best, 20 minutes of operational teaching time once you factor in the time it takes for the student to settle in and setup at the start of a lesson and pack up at the end. With a 20 minute lesson this is reduced, again at best the operational time is 10 minutes. Even if the teaching is effective this doesn’t give enough time to develop decent skill level or provide value to the student.

It's worth pointing out that these are extremely optimistic figures. With shorter sessions the situation tends to be even worse when you consider that most are held in schools where, in our experience, due to a variety of factors students rarely make it to the session on time. This tends to reduce the operational time even further, by at least another few minutes per session giving very little valuable teaching time at all.


We have always preferred a one hour session, quite logically, as you get more operational teaching time, but it is the actual figures of operational time for shorter sessions that has surprised us most. By keeping to an hour this also allows us to subdivide the session into a number of teaching points/tasks/developments that keep the learner completely focussed and fresh.


Of course there are notable exceptions, and for this we are flexible, for example when a student has specific learning difficulties which makes and hour too long to focus.



Value - The real cost of tuition


With regard to value. Using the example of a 30 minute session being charged at, for example, £13 and a 20 minute session £10. Based on the operational teaching time per session you would be paying an eye watering equivalent of £39 pounds and £78 per hour respectively. Again, even if the teaching is effective and the student shows to a session on time this does not represent anything like decent value, and not something we would be at all comfortable with.

So as you can see the shorter the session time is, the more expensive it actually becomes to learn anything.


We have made the decision to distance ourselves from “stack ‘em high” or “cram them in” and only provide regular lessons of one hour or longer because while shorter sessions looks to be a cheaper option the value is atrocious for the student and the person footing the bill!


We have also been asked to hold group lessons on various instruments. Teaching groups can be effective when the tutor is trained with the specific skills needed to ensure all members of the group remain engaged and actively learning throughout the session. In our experience this is very rarely done well, with at least one member of the group being held back and another struggling to keep up.


No matter what the type of lesson or instrument, our tutors are trained specifically with maximising the effectiveness of each session. That’s why, for example, the first 5 minutes are used by the student to warm up, tune up and ready themselves for the session. The effective teaching time is then optimised based on our accelerated learning system. We want for you to get the best value from each session and help you to learn to play at your optimum.


© 2018 Music Skills Ltd.