Tuesday, May 27, 2014

It's Summer! Should We Practice?

The glorious days of summer are just around the corner.  It's time for swimming and camping and vacationing! How does piano practice fit into it all? As you decide how to help your student prepare for 3rd year, you have a spectrum of choices for handling summertime practice.  From the structure of daily practice to the ease of taking a serious long-term break, you can make a plan that fits your family's needs.

Option 1: Stick with Daily Practice
If your family has a groove going with practice and you would love to maintain daily practice and progress during the summer, you'll love having more of the structured practice and theory assignments that you've come to love.  Let's Play Music teacher, Jen Ellsworth, in St. Clair, Pennsylvania has put together a six-week summer practice program to help any student get bolstered for Purple Magic this fall.
Practice Packet

If you had a Yellow Arrows student that was less than confident with all of the repertoire learned this year, a summertime of continued (or improved?) practice can make a huge difference!  Three months is a long time for young minds and fingers; often, struggling students can  turn things around and enter Purple class full of confidence.

Option 2: Get Some Help
You love the idea of the first option: daily practice.  BUT, perhaps you know that your child (and yourself) are just not going to be motivated to get the practice done five times each week when you know that there is no fun weekly lesson waiting for you.  Don't despair!

If you are especially lucky, your Let's Play Music teacher might have time for a few private lessons in the summer.  Between her travels and yours, that might mean only 4 or 6 lessons, which is often plenty for a summer.

If your LPM teacher isn't teaching privates, summer could be a great time to start looking for the piano teacher you'll graduate to in one short year.  Check out our guide for interviewing piano teachers.  Explain that you'd like someone to help your child over the summer, you have a curriculum you'd like to follow (from above), and if all goes well you'll be back in a year to start up full time.

Many private teachers are looking to fill summer vacancies and will be happy to work with you, and you'll be happy to have a few weeks to test the relationship before signing on long-term next year.  Some teachers have a wait-list for taking permanent students; if you like this teacher, put your name down now for next year.

Option 3: Go To Disneyland!

Go to the family reunion.  Go camping.  Send the kids to a week of camp.  Do you feel like you are in and out all summer?  The summer packet has only SIX weeks of assignments, so it is expected that you'll be busy for a few weeks and just pick up when you get back.  

If you decide to try private lessons, you'll be relieved to know that students who attended as few as FOUR summertime private music lessons showed improvement and retained Yellow Arrow skills.  Practice the weeks you're in town, and don't worry about the rest.  

Option 4: Take A Long Break

Perhaps your child is wanting some freedom to choose what she plays, and wishing to practice as a recreational activity this summer.  Even if there are no formal practice sessions, we hope your child is starting to love making music and will go to the piano on her own (or with gentle suggestion) sometimes for fun and creation.  

As fall starts to approach, check in with your child to be sure she can still play the basic skills learned in Yellow Arrows and use our guide for crafting your own practice plan to refresh skills before class starts.

When your musician attends the first few weeks of Purple Magic, she'll feel happy and confident having mastered her chords, hand positions, and scales.  She'll be ready for the new fun skills and repertoire to come!

- Gina Weibel, M.S.
Let's Play Music Teacher

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