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Keys To A Successful Summer

For most of my students, the end of this week signifies the end of the school year and the beginning of summer break! A time to refresh, relax, and reload energies to take on another school year come late August.

So naturally, a lot of my students are not thrilled that they have been signed up for lessons throughout the summer, in between vacations and day camps. The question becomes, how do we make piano lessons and practice over the summer fun and not a drudgery? And of course, how do we press on with lessons on an irregular basis without moving backwards?

I think there is a significant key character factor here in which we as adults, whether parents or teachers, can work to develop in our children / students. That key character trait is discipline.

Discipline is not something that just appears when one is feeling motivated for the time being. Discipline is the ability to continue on in a task, and completing that task well, even when one is completely out of motivation.

I truly believe that the summer is one of the best opportunities to instill discipline of practice in our students, and I have a few tips on on how to make that happen.

1. When practicing this summer, take the first few minutes to play for fun and improvise.

When I was a young student, piano practicing was the hardest for me during the summer, and it seemed like it would require a feat of strength to touch the piano and practice. What finally got me to turn the corner was that I spent the first 5-10 minutes at the piano not practicing. I just played and improvised. Allowing that free play and creativity at the very beginning of my practice time gave me the motivation to finally open those pages of piano music.

2. Create a schedule of practice times in June, July, and August and stick to it.

I would highly recommend that parents should take the time to sit down with their students and plan out each months events and schedule practice time around day camps, vacations, and sporting practices. That way, the expectation is set that piano practice time is just as important as baseball practice.

For the summer, I recommend to my students that if they practice twice a day in small, short 10-15 minute increments, it will make the practice time feel like a breeze. If every day is impossible, then every other day.

You could also set up a positive reinforcement calendar chart. For example, if the student practices 10 straight days in a row and marks it off the calendar, a trip to the local ice cream shop is rewarded.

3. While on vacation, take that opportunity to listen to classical music and review flashcards.

When you're flying to your summer destination, that is the perfect time to take advantage of the free time on the plane to review flashcards and listen to classical music. Downloading a Beethoven Sonata or a Liszt Hungarian Rhapsody is a great way to immerse yourself in classical piano. Another good option is to have a classical playlist for travel time.

Here is a link to a great list of summertime classical music to broaden and encourage classical listening:

4. Pick a fun song over the summer to practice alongside your regular lesson books

A good portion of my students are choosing a fun song to practice with their lesson books to add another motivating factor to touch the piano each and every day. It could be a Disney song, some jazz music, or any song that they view as fun!

I hope that you found these tips helpful!

Happy Summer, and Happy Practicing!

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