At least for most of you, we’re sure. But as good as it is to have a break, that lag time between June and August sometimes leaves us feeling a little rusty – especially when it comes to learning a new instrument. This down time can be even more damaging for young learners. That being said, we have a few ideas to keep your students fresh on their instrument of choice – whether it’s the piano, the violin, or even the accordion.
1. The natural response to keeping up with piano practice is to keep your child in lessons. Even with a looser summer schedule, it can be important for your child to have a weekly appointment with their teacher. If this isn’t an option, encourage a daily or weekly practice schedule for your child. Sources recommend a morning commitment, but do what’s best for you!
2. OK, so you set up a schedule. But now you’re going on vacation! Chances are there’s not a piano in your hotel room or mountainside cabin. Unless AirBNB adds a new filter to their selection process. Luckily we have digital technology at our fingertips – literally. Because there’s an app for this. It just depends on what you need.
For a more realistic experience, we recommend the clean and crisp Piano HD app. For something that practices note reading and playing in a more “fun” atmosphere, the Piano Maestro app comes highly recommended. And if you just want your child to be doing something related to the piano while also managing to learn something, there’s more fun to be had in selections like Moana Rhythm Run, The Most Addicting Sheep Game, or Rhythm Cat – all of which stress the importance of understanding rhythm and beats, the latter actually forcing the player to comprehend some musical notations.
3. In an effort to keep the fun going, allow your child to have some fun with their instrument. For most students, there’s a pre-sanctioned setlist to practice during the school year. But during the summer, anything is fair game – so long as they’re playing! Ask what song they want to learn to play. Maybe it’s something on the radio, maybe it’s a song from their favorite animated movie, but chances are there are versions out there for just about any skill level. Let them play that. If they love it and enjoy it….they’ll practice more. And they’ll only get better. Plus, practicing will become their choice – not yours.
4. Be their audience. Sure, sometimes there’s just too much work to be done. But sometimes, all your child wants is to be recognized for their efforts. So take a few minutes and let them play for you. Applaud when they’re done. Give them a standing ovation. If you find your child really does crave an audience – set up a short show for them at summer’s end. Invite friends, family, neighbors, and let your child show off what they’ve learned!
5. But maybe your child doesn’t want the extra attention. In that case, it’s okay to reward them in other ways. Set up a system throughout the whole summer, tracking each time they practice and maybe even for how long (5 minutes doesn’t equal 30) with stars on the calendar. You can even set up a tiered system for rewards – maybe practicing 20 times is one reward, whereas practicing every day is something a little more extravagant. And for those of you who don’t believe in gifts, give your child an experience. A one-on-one day with Mom or Dad, a special afternoon at Chuck E Cheese with a friend. You know what motivates your child – let them learn how to earn it! In the end, it’s a win-win.
Piano teachers are used to their students coming back from a long break barely remembering anything they learned before. Many have programs in place to jog their students’ memory over the first month of back-to-school. But wouldn’t it be nice if that time didn’t have to be wasted? Wouldn’t it be great for your child to come back to their teacher with even more skills than when they left? We think it’s possible – it’ll just take a little bit of practice.