It’s finally summer holidays and I am so happy to feel an easing in scheduling, teaching and practicing. Don’t get me wrong–my student-load remains the same and often increases, and I practice the same amount, however, I enjoy the sunshine, flexible morning lessons, and having my children home to work and play with.
I love summer lessons because I see my students progress in leaps and bounds, even taking breaks for holidays and camps. There is a refreshing that comes in new material and summer-specific goals that propels this progress. I always emphasize a healthy balance of play and work that seems to invigorate my students, and myself.
I know a few teachers who feel quite the opposite, experiencing student turnover, students who do not practice, and vacations that last several weeks which halts progress and enthusiasm. It can be unsettling and discouraging. Learning to see the positives in the ebb and flow of a private music-teaching studio is key. Leaner times call for honing skill, technique, and planning future solo recitals. It is also a great time to connect with other teachers and learn from each other.
Major life events can upset a smooth schedule, as well. For example, I already know that I will be moving across the country or overseas, again, next summer. I know that my private teaching will be put on hold for at least a month, but I look forward to this time in my personal practice and study of teaching. I evaluate what has worked well in my teaching studio in the past, and plan a few alterations, new books or methods to try.
For students–Plan to practice consistently through the summer! Plan to be experimental, trying new ways of practicing, and picking music outside of your comfort zone that may be fun and challenging in a new way. Set a summer-specific goal to accomplish to keep your focus clear and effective.
For parents–Encourage your child through your example. Is there a new skill you have been wanting to learn? Share that with your child and tell them that you plan to practice that skill when they are practicing their instrument. Share your progress and check in often. Encourage consistency and work around your vacations and outings with a positive attitude. Practicing should never feel like a punishment. It should feel like an accomplishment! My own children know not to ask for friends to come over or other special privileges until they have practiced (right now it’s piano and drums for my two oldest).
I would love to hear what works for you! How do you encourage summer practicing?
Here are a few other articles on summer music tips: