Many students have a much-needed and well-deserved break from school during the summer months.
With summer on the horizon, perhaps you’ve also noticed that there are many “SUMMER READING CHALLENGES” around. I’ve seen them at our local bookstores, library and even McDonald’s. My own kids love these summer reading challenges and are super motivated to plow through books and keep track of their reading in order to earn free books, movie tickets or Happy Meals.
These reading challenges aren’t just offered because they’re fun, but because reading during the summer is critical in order for children to maintain what they’ve learned during the previous school year, and to continue to progress in their skills.
The same can be said for practicing the piano. Students who take an entire summer off from playing at the piano experience tremendous regression in the fall — especially those who are only a year or two into their learning. This leads to frustration when they return to their music studies, and it can also be difficult to get back into a routine again.
That said, I completely understand that traveling, more free time and outdoor play are positive and important things for students.
Here is some encouragement I would give to your family in order to continue to enjoy progress, competence and confidence in learning a musical instrument.
- Set up a summer time practice routine. I am ALWAYS telling my students that they should schedule a consistent practice time each day that is built into their schedule. Even though your schedule may look quite different in the summer, it’s important to figure out when that daily, consistent time will be during the summer months! Popping one in here and there when your child remember usually doesn’t lead to consistency or progress, and I find for my own kids that making sure we do a practice in the morning hours before we head to the park or on a hike tends to work well.
- Pick fun music! It can be fun and motivational to “change things up” and let your student pick a favorite piece from a Disney movie or song on the radio. Be sure that it is level-appropriate so that it doesn’t become frustrating, looking for arrangements that say “Easy Piano” or “Big Note” in the title.
- Take musical learning on the road, if possible. Some of my students bring smaller keyboards in their campers or rented homes when they travel and continue to work their way through my online lessons on their iPad or Kindle! If taking a keyboard isn’t feasible (don’t worry if it isn’t!), bring a small tambourine or egg shaker and participate in the Rhythm Ensembles in the bonus modules of my online program.
- Use apps for note naming maintenance. Check out some of my favorite note-naming apps HERE.
- Plan a recital! Set a date for a performance at the end of the summer, giving your student something to work towards and look forward to.