I insist that my students take lessons and practice over the summer because students who study and practice over the summer turn out to be the most successful students. Summer is a time when students can devote more time to the piano without the pressures of school and homework. In my many years of teaching, (I stopped counting after 30) I have seen that students who continue piano study throughout the year stick with piano longer and play better than those that take breaks from playing.
One of the ways I keep my students motivated to practice, is to institute a “Summer Piano Practice Challenge”. While summer is traditionally a time when advanced students tackle Sonatas and longer repertoire, I ask my beginning and intermediate student to try to learn five fun, short pieces.
It’s important to establish a summer practice routine. For most students, the entire schedule changes during summer vacation, making it easy to forget to practice. If your child will be away for the summer, see if you can find a local teacher or have some lessons with your regular teacher over the internet. Many summer day camps take place at schools and churches where there may be access to a piano or a keyboard if this is the case ask if your child can practice during free time. Most sleep-away camps also have pianos. I have had a few students take music along with them to sleep-away camp and get in some practice time.
As a mom of five sons, I know how tempting it is to want to have a summer, free of all of the school-year obligations. The frenzy of the academic and extracurricular activities leaves all of us yearning for some down time. But, I would ask that parents have their children continue with piano practice over the summer. It’s true that students can advance greatly in their playing during summer vacation, however, the converse is also true students can lose a lot of ground if they neglect practicing for eight to ten weeks.
I hope that all of my students will come to lessons and practice this summer. I will do everything I can to make summer lessons valuable and fun for my students. I will let them learn some fun music and explore some new musical concepts. I will also ask them to participate in the five piece practice challenge.
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