Updated: Aug 24, 2019
There is so much us piano teachers need to get done in a 30-minute lesson. How do we add ensemble-playing on top of everything else we need to teach?
My solution was to announce (to those young students not preparing for exams) that we were having a "Duets Party" at the end of term...and it was not optional. (FYI: I found most young students will thrill the sound of the word "party".) I paired up each student with a partner of the same gender and age. (If they had a friend taking lessons at the school I tried to pair them with their chum.) The assigned duet-part simply became part of their weekly homework. Yes, this duet did take the place of some other piece I might have assigned, but I found the pedagogical pay-off was well worth it! Also, the kids were engaged! Let's face it: practicing piano is a lonely business --especially when you're 7, 8, 9 years old! The thought of playing with their friends (or meeting new ones) really seemed to boost every students interest in playing the piano --even the hard-to-motivate ones. Hence, why I'm now such a believer in regularly creating piano duets or larger piano ensembles among my own students.
As for coaching sessions: one month before the party, I invited the duet partners to attend each other's lesson once or twice to work on the duet. (At the parent's convenience). Thus, there was no fancy rescheduling required on my part. Seeing the kids work together and the parents meet and work together really helped foster the idea of a one big happy musical community!