The sun is out, recitals are wrapping up, school is ending and many piano teachers are getting ready to close their studio doors for a much-needed summer break.
This means that in the next few weeks you’ll have a host of piano students lining up at your studio door for their final piano lesson. Whether you break for the entire summer or for just a few weeks, in the mind of a child, these lessons are considered, “the last one”.
End-of-year piano lessons always feel a bit odd. Continuing with normal lesson routines is anticlimactic while playing nothing but games wastes one of the year’s most important learning opportunities. So, to make sure you make the most of your students’ final lessons, in today’s post we’re sharing six activities that will ensure a wonderful goodbye, a fruitful summer, and a happy return in the fall.
6 Activities You Should Do In Your Last Lesson Before The Summer
Regardless of the length of your summer break, it’s important to wrap up a year of lessons with a change in routine and a nod to what your student has accomplished during your year together. By including these 6 activities in your last lesson together, you’ll put a pretty bow on the top of your term and send your student out the door smiling and anxious to return in the fall.
1. Take A Tour-Through-Time Book Tour
It’s important to complete your students’ year by highlighting their accomplishments. Nothing illustrates progress more clearly than a “tour through time”. To take this tour, flip backward in your students’ piano books and compare the pieces they were playing in September with the pieces they are currently playing. Discuss the specific differences (ie. “Look at these pieces that were just one hand at a time. Now you can play hands-together with ease!” etc.) and reflect on what your students had to learn to be able to play the repertoire they are currently working on. Talk about specific instances where “light bulb moments” happened during your time together and chat about what caused those learning moments to occur.
2. Reorganize The Piano Binder For Summer Success
Removing as many barriers to summer piano practice as possible is an essential ingredient in your final lessons. In order to keep summer materials organized and at-hand, spend a few moments reorganizing your students’ piano binders. Pull out old assignment sheets to recycle and remove any materials that are no longer needed. Create a section at the very front of the binder that only contains what should be practiced during the summer months. Keep this selection of music manageable and enticing for independent practice at home.
3. Include Enjoyable, Shared Music-Making
The final lesson should be a celebration of the piano… and nothing is more enjoyable than duets! Grab one of our pre-made improv duet activities or pull out a favorite duet from the past year and have fun making music together, without any pressure for perfection.
4. Give A Sneak Peek Of What’s To Come
To keep your students feeling inspired over the summer, give them a preview of some of the fun materials they’ll be using once they return to lessons. Perhaps they’ll have a new method book or a new book of supplementary repertoire they’ve been coveting. Maybe you have new piano games or a new practice incentive that you’ll be starting in the fall. Whet their appetite for piano lessons with the promise of future fun and give her something to look forward to when they return to lessons.
5. Offer Genuine Congratulations
Take a moment to offer genuine words of congratulations for what your students have accomplished during the school year. If at all possible, give these compliments in front of a parent. Congratulatory words mean so much more when offered in front of a parent and will give Mom or Dad something specific to talk about as they head home filled with piano-connected warm-fuzzies. Make your congratulations not only genuine but specific; children can spot fake praise a mile away. Be specific about their accomplishments and be genuine in what you choose to say.
6. Give A (Small) Gift
It’s likely that you’ll be thanked by your students with flowers, small gifts and an endless supply of treble clef-themed knick-knacks. You can return the favor and make your students feel extra special by having a small, thoughtful gift ready to send home as your students head into summer holidays. These gifts don’t have to be expensive or time-consuming. In fact, we have an entire Pinterest board devoted to student gift ideas that are the perfect parting gift! Check out those ideas here.
Sending Teens Home And Hoping For Practice?
While it’s difficult to get consistent practice out of any student, inspiring teens to practice over the summer is particularly challenging and is only accomplished if the repertoire is more motivating than a day at the beach. If you are looking for teen repertoire that is THAT motivating check out our Sessions Books (classical pop piano crossovers) and our Guardians Books (Celtic piano music for teens).