Bands vs Private Lessons at BMF: What’s the Difference?

At Brooklyn Music Factory we offer Bands & Private Lessons. Many of our musicians do both, some only one. Bands and Private Lessons work together beautifully, but can also stand alone. Which one you do—or whether you do both—depends on your goals.

Here I’ll explain their different objectives but first note the core value that ties them together: Community.

Both programs aim at building musical fluency—eg., rhythm, melody and harmony—so our musicians can play music TOGETHER, hearing and understanding in real time what’s happening around them musically and reacting to the moods, nuances and changes of the other players. Too often learning and playing music happens in a vacuum with kids playing alone, working to improve technique and skills they rarely (if ever) get to use in a dynamic group setting.

Community is the core value of Brooklyn Music Factory and the driving engine behind our curriculum. Why? Because we believe it’s that dynamic group setting that makes music so joyful.

This is why even Private Lesson students at BMF come together to play gigs, rather than traditional recitals. The curriculums for Band and Private Lessons work toward the same goal—but take different routes to get there and come with a different set of expectations and musical accomplishments.

Here’s a little more information on each:

BAND: Instrument Role, Arrangement & Group Performance

The band program gives kids the unique opportunity to play together in a group setting with a focus on the specific benefits that come from making music with others.

Playing with other musicians not only gives each student a new perspective on their own instrument, but shows them how their part fits into the whole to create a song. Playing music as a group teaches kids how to listen to others and in the process, themselves.

While students in private lessons focus on one instrument, students in Jam Band 101 (our band classes for beginners) play a variety of instruments throughout the year. Many students will conclude the program with a specific passion for an instrument they didn’t know about when they started. They might not have developed the technique yet to express themselves fully on the instrument, but they are fired up to learn more!

Students in Rock Write Record and GirlPop bands usually have some experience under their belts—and are starting to gravitate to an instrument (or instruments!) of focus. These bands work on a couple of songs at a time (one cover and one original) as students start digging deeper into songwriting and arrangement. They are not as far into the same techniques and skill sets they would work on in private lessons, but they are developing a more functional understanding of how their instrument serves the bands as they write and arrange songs for the first time!

If you want your child to drill scales to a metronome every day, the band might be a disappointment, but if you want them to write, arrange, record and perform an original song with a group of their peers, then this is will be a huge hit and a ton of fun.

PRIVATE LESSONS: Instrument Specific Technique, Music Theory & BLAM Games

Much like bands, the goal of the Private Lesson program is to help students develop musical fluency, so they have the skills and confidence to play with other musicians. However, students are focusing on a specific instrument and receive one-on-one instruction for that particular that instrument. They’ll dig deeper into the technical elements of their instrument, so they can express themselves more confidently, while still becoming fluent in rhythm, melody & harmony.

Unlike many other Private Lesson programs BMF focuses on building musicians who are skilled on and off their instruments. Students play BLAM games (Big Lesson About Music) that have them moving around the room, training their ears and their voices. Students learn music theory and songwriting from a young age, so they not only can play music but also understand what they’re playing.

Students who are interested in songwriting will also have the opportunity to arrange and compose with their teachers and may even eventually be featured on BMF’s Private Lesson Album–backed by a band of other students. Students at BMF are developing the skills to be creative with and converse fluidly with other musicians—a goal that sets BMF apart from standard music curriculums.


Ultimately, these two programs work best when paired together, and we encourage every musician to eventually do both. (We even offer 15% discount off the band tuition for students also enrolled in private lessons!) Private lessons will refine your skills on your instrument of choice, and the band program will give you the opportunity to play music the way it was meant to be played—in a dynamic group setting—on a regular basis.

Please let me know if you have any questions about what to expect from either option. If you’re interested in trying out a new program, please contact Jessica to find out about openings.