Don’t let your hard-earned piano skills fade away in the Summer heat! Here are some tips for keeping piano skills fresh and crisp during the Summer months: (This is written to apply generally to children, but the same guidelines work for adult students as well!!)
- Continue lessons. This is probably the most practical and advantageous suggestion in this post! Many piano
teachers continue to offer piano lessons throughout Summer months, and most are also flexible with students’ planned travel/vacation trips. Even just a handful of lessons throughout the Summer can help a student stay on track!
- Participate in a music camp. Many music schools, recreation departments, local studios, and college campuses offer Summer music camps. Exposure to a wide range of musical genres can benefit a student’s overall musicianship, so don't shy away from a music camp that is unrelated to piano.
- What if #1 and #2 aren’t an option? Don’t worry! When a child learns to read, his/her reading abilities can be easily maintained during school break, correct? The same goes with piano. Although advancement / progress may be difficult to achieve, MAINTENANCE should be the key focus for students during any piano lesson "hiatus." Below are the basics to maintain musical instrument abilities… which can apply for any instrument (not just piano!)
- Technique: My piano mentor’s words keep echoing through my ears…. “your repertoire is only as good as your technique”… The best advice I every received. Another tune comes to mind from Disney’s Aristocats movie “You must learn your scales and your arpeggios….” It’s so true! Hopefully your child’s teacher has been incorporating technique, scales, and arpeggios as an integral practicing regimen. Continue practicing the last 3-4 technique assignments to maintain fresh skills. Some books I use for technique work include the following:
- Piano Adventures Technique and Artistry Book by Faber and Faber
- Dozen a Day
- Hanon: The Virtuoso Pianist in Sixty Exercises
- Czerny: The Little Pianist, Op. 823
- Lesson: Most beginner and intermediate students work from a lesson book. Each piece in the lesson book teaches a new musical concept, building cumulatively. By reviewing the last few pieces from the lesson book, Summer practice can be a breeze, and fun to keep skill level up to par! Advancing students will often learn shorter classical pieces in lieu of a Lesson book, which should be reviewed regularly, and why not take it a step further?… Memorize it!!
- Recital Review: Recital pieces generally reflect an accumulation of everything a student has learned in one semester. By reviewing this throughout the Summer, fingers stay fine-tuned and ready to learn more when lessons resume!
- Theory Review: Flashcards, theory activity books, and note speller books are usually available at local music shops. These are perfect to bring along road trips, airplane rides, and commutes to and from Summer camps in the car! Talk to your child’s piano teacher about which theory activities would be appropriate for your child’s current piano level.
- Listening: Listening to solo piano music of different genres exposes your child to the many sounds a piano can make! This will help keep your child interested in learning music. Attending live music events can be especially beneficial to children, and additionally make great family outings, and support local musicians as well!
- Incentive Magic: Create an incentive for continuing music practice throughout the Summer! Ice cream seems to work well for my students, child and teen alike!
What do you like to do to keep your piano skills up when lessons aren’t in session?