History of Class Piano

According to William Henry Richards, group teaching had its beginnings in Ireland in the early 1800s. Johann Bernard Logier (1780-1846), originally from Germany, taught group piano in his academy in Dublin. These classes were large, often including as many as thirty students ranging from beginners to more advanced players. The students often played together as a group with the beginners playing simple melodies while the more advanced students played variations on these tunes. At other times, the students would perform by themselves or in small groups.

Teachers from America and various European countries visited Logier’s classes and introduced group teaching in their respective countries. The first documentation in America can be traced to girls’ schools in the South around 1860.

In the early part of the 20th century, piano classes were established in several public schools in America. Many individuals including, Calvin Bernard Cady, T.P. Giddings, Hazel Kinscella, Otto Miesner, Helen Curtis and Gail M. Haake developed systems of piano class teaching and trained teachers in their methods throughout America. Public school group piano classes grew tremendously from 1918-1930. Unfortunately, due to the Great Depression, group piano classes declined in the 1930s.

Raymond Burrows at Teachers College at Columbia University fostered piano classes for adults during the 1930s and 1940s. With the development of the electronic piano lab in the 1950s, group instruction increased at the collegiate level. These classes are structured as a practical and effective means for developing musicianship skills for music majors. They also provide an introduction to the piano for non-music majors who want to play the piano for pleasure.

Source: “Group Piano Course” by Alfred