Summer is almost here! Once school breaks for the year, it's tempting to throw all routine out of the window and just relax for 3 months straight, but that can be a waste of a great opportunity to grow!
The warmer months are a wonderful time to expand you or your child's musical skill set. If you or your child is having a hard time continuing to practice piano or guitar around summer activities, here are a few ways to keep the ball rolling:
1. Learn a piece you've always loved or a technique you've always wanted to master. If you or your child have a piece that's always captured your imagination - ideally a longer term project piece - now's a great time to get started learning this piece. Having a goal that's got a beginning and end (September!) can be a great motivator for summer practice sessions.
If there's a technique that has been a struggle to master during the school year, now's the time to really focus on that. Summer is a wonderful time to work on improvisation skills, technique, and other musical abilities that require a slow and steady approach. Without the distraction of upcoming recitals and school obligations, it's much easier to focus and move forward in these areas.
2. Set weekly / monthly goals for the big project along the way. While having a big goal, such as learning Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata, is a great motivator, sometimes it can be a bit daunting. It's important to break a piece of music or technique into smaller, achievable chunks. Maybe on week one, you'll work on the first page right hand of the piece. Then on week two, you'll work on the left hand. Week three, you'll put them together (and so on). By breaking down the big goal into smaller chunks, you'll start to see progress very quickly!
3. Set a practice goal and stick with it. It's important to set a daily goal and stick with it, no matter what. One thing that helps here is to keep it manageable. If your goal is 30 minutes per day, it might make sense to shoot for 15 minutes in the morning and 15 minutes of practice after dinner. If you can attach practice to another routine that is done each day, it becomes compulsory, not optional. One thing that worked for me when I was young was that I always came home, fed the dogs, and then practiced from 4-5pm. That was my hour (before the evening news came on), and I knew that if I was going to practice at all, it had to be done during that time frame.
4. Play music with others. Whenever and wherever possible, find an excuse to join or form an ensemble. Often, community bands are looking for new members at the end of spring / beginning of summer. These can be great ways to get to know more people in the community, to play with and learn from outstanding musicians, to practice sight reading skills and to learn great pieces of music! If your child is taking lessons with a friend or a sibling, now's a great time to start learning a duet or two. There is more time in the summer to get together to practice these, and they're so much fun!
5. Friendly competition is an excellent motivator. So long as you can keep it healthy and fun in your household, having a "days practiced" leader-board in your home for siblings taking lessons together can encourage friendly competition. Have the prize be something you all can do together. Whoever wins gets to pick a place for the family to have dinner together at - that kind of thing.
6. Reward good behaviors... carefully. How would you like to go do XYZ fun thing after you finish practicing piano? Occasionally asking questions like this makes it clear that piano practice is not optional but also gives a reason to get to it. This can be used to periodically motivate regular practice between piano lessons if you start to notice a lull.
How about you? Do you have any tips for staying motivated in the summertime?
Have you always wanted to play piano but have never had the time? Now's a great time to get started! Contact us today for your first free lesson.