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How You (Or Your Child) Can Stay Proficient in Piano Over Summer Break

piano practice

You spend so much time during the school year getting from lesson to lesson, practicing with the guidance of your teacher. Then it’s summertime … and you’re suddenly on your own.

This scenario is common among piano students, from conservatory students who are home from college and hundreds of miles from their teacher, to children whose teachers aren’t taking summer students. So how can you (or your child, if you’re a parent of a young pianist) prevent summer slump?

When you’re the student…

If possible, take lessons with a trusted teacher. If your own teacher isn’t available, that doesn’t mean you can’t branch out. Is there someone close that your teacher thinks might be a good fit? If not, even traveling a little further for one master class or lesson can be helpful.

Need motivation? Plan a recital for the end of the summer. This doesn’t have to be anything huge. Churches are often happy to host musical performances. Perhaps the local historical society would appreciate something period appropriate. Even a recital at home for grandma and her bridge club can be enough to get you to focus.

Feeling frustrated? Cultivate curiosity. Yes, it can be aggravating when you’re struggling with a piece and don’t have your teacher around to help you work through it. When that happens, try approaching it less like a roadblock and more like a mystery:

  • I wonder why this passage is so difficult for me?
  • What would my teacher say if she were here?
  • What aspect of this is most challenging?
  • How can I frame this in a different way?

Make a schedule for focused practice, but also make room for fun. If there is a particular skill you want to develop or a piece you want to learn, you’ll want to focus on that. Keeping good practice notes, getting back to basics, and making sure your practice sessions aren’t haphazard are all key when you don’t have someone else giving you assignments.

At the same time, the summer is a great opportunity to experiment. Join a folk ensemble, practice improvisation, try something new! Do the things you wish you could do during the school year, but can never seem to find the time.

When you’re the parent…

Before the end of the year, meet with your child’s teacher. If you haven’t attended any classes, do so a couple of times towards the end of the school year. Put together a plan for the summer: What are the goals? What pieces should they be learning?

Don’t count yourself out because you’re not an “expert.”If you have a musical background at all (even if you’re not too familiar with the piano in particular), that’s very helpful. You already know how to practice and have an understanding of the kinds of skills your child is trying to learn.

If not, don’t feel useless! You still know a lot about how to learn. You understand that repeating smaller things can help with larger things, and you can tell when your child seems awkward or uncomfortable in their playing. YouTube is a great source of examples. You can listen to the pieces your child is learning, enabling you to spot things like rhythms that need work.

No piano lessons available? Consider other musical options. While it’s not a replacement for piano practice, joining a community choir, taking a Dalcroze eurhythmics class, or participating in making music in other ways can be very helpful for young pianists to develop a better ear and sense of musicality.

Daily is better than long, so make it part of your routine. Even five minutes of practice a day is better than trying to cram practice into the days right before school starts again, or falling off the piano wagon after an intense couple of weeks in June.

Are you traveling? Stay in the practice habit. Find a piano if you can, but even spending that daily practice time playing musical games keeps children in the habit of spending a little bit of time on their music every day.

Remember that learning the piano is the task of a lifetime…

Sometimes that progress is swift and obvious, while at other times growth is more subtle. But no matter where you or your loved ones are in their musical journey, Moore Piano is here to support you with the services you need, and the instruments you love. Stop by our store this summer! We’d love to hear you play.