Does summer piano practice even exist? Do your students continue to practice their piano every single day during the summer months or do they drag a musty smelling piano bag into their first lesson in the fall and forget how to find Middle C?
As teachers we all know that two months away from the piano takes us at about 3 months of lessons to re-gain that what was lost. Many piano teachers teach during the summer to prevent this learning slump from happening. But if you have piano students who do not continue through the summer, how do you keep them motivated to practice on their own at home?
Here’s a quick list of suggestions to keep a thick layer of dust from collecting on the piano keys of students everywhere… and to take the notion of Summer Piano Practicing from the land of the mythological to the real world:
1) Create a summer challenge – have your piano students commit to a certain number of *something*. Give them a fun and inventive way to track their progress and a reward for reaching their goal. Think number of pieces learned, number of pieces memorized, days of practice for more than 20 minutes etc. etc.
2) Create a performance opportunity mid-way through the summer. Yes, you’ll have to put down that margarita and tear yourself away from the beach, but it will be well worth it to give your students a goal to work towards. It’s okay if you haven’t heard their pieces in several weeks… make it casual and make it fun with the sole purpose of keeping them motivated at home. Choose their pieces before you close for the summer and pick ones that are on the easy side. This year, we are having “Music in the Park” at the end of July with a drive-in movie theme. I’ve got amps, a digital piano, an extension cord, some christmas lights and a whole lotta imagination (and popcorn). Can you say marketing opportunity??!! Those passing by will wonder what the heck is happening and if you have your studio name front and centre you’re going to get noticed.
3) Check in via Skype. Personally, I’m not a fan of piano lessons by Skype but a new take on using Skype is not to have a lesson, but rather a quick “check-in”. Give your students a summer calendar with 4 different days marked off. On these days you will call them via Skype and be treated to an online concert of their latest projects. No teaching… just a check-in. You’re creating a goal.
4) Give your students something different to work on. Change up their repertoire and give them some motivating practice activities (our newest book “Shhh… Your Piano Teacher Thinks This is Practice” is perfect for the summer… encouraging 88 straight days of ridiculously fun practice). Many teachers have chosen to use this resource as their summer lesson plan… and judging by the emails we’ve been getting it’s really working!
Summer piano practice doesn’t need to fall into the “oh well, if it happens it happens” category. Be proactive and take action to ensure your piano students continue to progress during the summer. The outcome is nothing but good: parents will see their children enjoying the piano and progessing… and your studio will reap the rewards of both satisfied customers and quality students.