Thursday, February 17, 2011

Double Trouble? (Teaching Twins)

I'm about to embark on a new teaching adventure, namely, teaching twins! They are two girls, age 7. One began lessons two weeks ago and she's enjoying it so much that her twin sister has decided to join in! I'm a bit nervous about teaching two sisters who are so close in age. I have a lot of siblings in my studio, but no two who are so close in age and ability.

Have any other teachers had experience with teaching twins? Do you have any advice to offer?

I'll be teaching them on two separate evenings, but I'm questioning whether to use the same method with both and if (and how much) I should change up my usual 'beginner' routine so that they're not having the same experience. Should I treat them just like two beginners and ignore the fact that they are sisters? Or should I try to change things up for each sister?

I'll let you know how this new endeavor goes!


  1. I am a mother of identical twin girls who are now age 12. I am also a piano teacher. So I have a bit of personal experience with this specific situation:)

    My first suggestion is that you talk with the mom/dad & learn if the twins have a competitive nature between them or if they are more supportive of one another. If they are competitive, I would teach them from separate lesson books. You don't want them comparing themselves to each other & allowing them to suffer the self esteem affects that brings. At the same time, because they are both beginners, I would find hands on music games for them to play together at home so that they can still have the "connection" twins have and still learn the basics together. This, hopefully, will allow them to be competitive in a more healthy atmosphere & learn the value of team work/support.

    If they are the best of friends & rarely bicker & fight with each other, I would go ahead & try to teach from the same books (just because it's expensive to have twins & EVERYTHING is "double", especially money expenditures). But allow them to learn different music pieces outside of the lesson books. This will allow them to feel "indivualized". You may also need to teach the same concept(s) two different ways to them. It'll just be a trial/error experience for you, but keep it in mind.

    It is VERY important to twins that they not be treated as twins. They feel (at least mine do) that people see the two of them as one person & not as two separate people with different interests. Not a good thing. Try not to get their names mixed up & keep from grouping them together in conversation ("you two", "you guys", "the twins", etc.). Don't compare them to each other in their presence. It's easy to do this mentally. It's the natural thing to do. But refrain from voicing it during their lessons. Individualize them. I can't say that enough:)

    Hope this helps a little bit. Good luck, I'm sure you (and them) will do just fine!

  2. Tifany- THANK YOU for all your wonderful insights! All your thoughts are much appreciated. I am waiting on a response from the mother- I had emailed her just to get her take on the dynamics between the two sister, so we'll see what she says. In the meantime you've given me some great food for thought on how to approach lessons and interactions with each one individually.

  3. I taught a pair of twin sisters for a couple of years. They were transfer students, and I was very surprised to find that they were used to sharing music books. They were not competitive with each other at all! At first, I tried to make sure they stayed together in the books and worked on the same pieces at the same time. However, gradually one sister began moving ahead of the other. I carefully posed to each of them (separately) as to whether it was okay if one sister got ahead, I was pleasantly surprised that it didn't make the slightest bit of difference to them. I think they were mature enough (about age 13) to realize that progress was due to time devoted practicing, not necessarily talent (in this case).

    Not sure if any of that helps your situation, but that's been my only experience with teaching twins!

  4. Thanks so much for your feedback Joy! It's always helpful to hear from other teachers who have dealt with these situations firsthand.