How to Teach Piano to Summer-Lovin’ Sam

For many piano teachers, spring recitals are now a distant memory and the lazy hazy days of summer are creeping in. This also means the days of lazy hazy piano students are on your horizon. If you teach piano lessons during the summer it can be difficult to keep Summer-Lovin’ Sam motivated and practicing.

And while my own spring recital is not quite behind me I’m already planning my summer to keep Summer-Lovin’ Sam excited about piano lessons. I have to compete with the lake, the pool, the cabin, the boat, the waterslides and, most recently, the Monster Truck rally… but I can do it!

Creating a Summer Piano Lesson Plan

Summer piano lessons need to be different. There is a clear separation in the minds of our students between when school is in and when it’s “Wahoo summer!”. By freshening up our lessons to reflect this change, you can hook into the summer mentality and make your summer piano lesson offerings something your students lump in with the “Wahoo summer!” attitude. You don’t have to offer an all out summer camp, but you can change up your lessons just enough to make them interesting and unique.

This summer I’m running my piano lessons like a mini-university where my students can pick and choose their “courses” from an “à la Carte” menu. My studio offers 9 weeks of lessons in the summer, and Summer-Lovin’ Sam will have his choice of 3 different “streams”. He can stay in one stream and complete the full 9 weeks of activities, or he can bounce around between them completing different sets of 3 week activities. I have purposely not re-created the wheel when planning my summer piano lessons (I like to enjoy my summer too!). These are all activities and skills I regularly teach my students during the year. However, they are offered in a format that is fun and more flexible and this makes all the difference.

Feel free to steal these ideas (and printable 3-fold brochure I created to advertise this piano coolness to my studio found here!) for your own studio. Can anyone say “Planning… DONE!”? :)

3 Summer Piano Lesson Streams

Here are the three different threads Summer-Lovin’ Sam can choose from at my studio in July and August:

The Pop Star

Learn the Leadsheets – Choose two of your favourite Top 40 songs from my stack and learn how to improvise a seriously cool left hand accompaniment. Learn all about chording and how to sound like a pro.

Sing and Play – learn how to use chording to accompany yourself as you sing. We’ll explore two awesome songs that go well with piano and show you how to sing and play like a star.

Produce a Record – Record two of your own compositions from the year. Lean how to add effects and other instruments to the track for a totally cool end result. We’ll have a mini photo shoot and create CD cover art for your very own two-track record.

The Composer

Muttzart Needs You! Using “The Curious Case of Muttzart and Ratmaninoff” we’ll work to help Muttzart re-create Isabella’s destroyed compositions before it’s too late! Learn all about composing and create your very own pieces right from the very first lesson!

Mary Had A Little Shark – have fun twisting some well-known pieces and making them your very own. We’ll be learning about theme and variation and improvisation as we take simple pieces and make them ah-maaaz-ing!

Show Your Stuff – learn how to use music notation software to publish your compositions as real live sheet music! Perform your own creations during our Composers Coffee House evening where you can trade your sheet-music with your friends and even offer it up for sale to the audience during our charity sheet music auction!

The Showoff

Riff Raff – Piano can be every bit as cool as the guitar! We’ll be learning how to play some famous piano riffs that will knock your friends’ socks off! No you don’t need to learn the entire song… these are just riffs! Show your stuff with just the really good parts.

Fast and Furious – learn some good muscle-building exercises and technique to really make your fingers fly. Then, take on a piece that will light your keyboard on fire! The use of safety goggles during lesson time is suggested.

Fearless Fortissimo – take a comic book adventure and bring it to life using music from the series “The Adventures of Fearless Fortissimo”. Get set for some seriously cool music that will impress and mystify.

Be Different And Reap the Rewards

I’m excited to be offering something cool and different to my piano students during July and August and I know my attendance rates and the motivation of my students will be really strong. Piano teachers know that summer piano lessons put students ahead of the game… this plan will put piano lessons on par with any other fun summer activity that attempts to distract Summer-Lovin’ Sam. And if Summer-Lovin’ Sam becomes Summer-Lesson-Lovin’ Sam then I’m one step ahead of the game!

This plan is super simple to put into action… made even more simple by the two TeachPianoToday products I’m using! The Curious Case of Muttzart and Ratmaninoff and The Adventures of Fearless Fortissimo are as simple to implement as pressing “print” (check them out using the links above). Gotta love it!

9 Responses to How to Teach Piano to Summer-Lovin’ Sam

  1. Jeannie says

    Love your ideas as always; however, I am starting my summer off by attending the Van Cliburn International Competition. My studio is 85 miles away and I have scheduled 3 Friday’s to go to Ft. Worth. Students are excited about a field trip — me, I’m excited that 14 of my students wanted to go. Should be motivational for students, parents and me. Also, please inform your readers that they can watch via WebCast by going to cliburn.com

  2. Amy says

    I’d love to use this use this summer. You wouldn’t happen to have the brochure available in a format that I could change a little, would you?

    Thanks so much
    Amy

  3. Lori Gardner says

    Hi Andrea, I would also like to use your brochure and need to make a few minor adjustments. Can you email me the file? I use pages. Thanks so much!

  4. says

    Hi Andrea, I am super excited to offer these units this summer! Any suggestions for the music you’re using? I’d love some ideas for popular but easy riffs, the light-your-keyboard-on-fire song, and the best ‘top 40′ that you recommend! Thanks.

    • says

      Hi Bonnie – The popular but easy riffs are ones that I transcribe from music that my kiddos are enjoying at the moment (riffs like Coldplay’s “Clocks”, or the intro to “How to Save a Life” by The Fray, the intro to “Stay” by Rhianna, The intro to “Say Something” by A Great Big World, the riff to “Just Give Me a Reason” by P!nk etc.) We’re fortunate right now that the piano is being prominently featured in quite a few of the most popular songs right now. The light-your-keyboard on fire songs are ones that I”ve composed myself (watch for a book with this theme to be released through PianoBookClub.com) but other ones that are also good are “The Tempest” from Piano Adventures level 3B. If you have older kids, Lionel Yu has some great stuff at http://www.musicalbasics.com. The Best Top 40 is really what is current at that time – kids’ tastes change so quickly – what was cool one week is “lame” 2 weeks later. Google “Top 40″ and be sure to listen to the lyrics first :)

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