By Christy | the Practicing Pro
Summer is just around the corner, and we all know what happens during summer – practice drops to the bottom of the priority list. We mean for it to stay at the top with beginning of the summer good intentions, but then it slip, slip, slips down each day.
And I get it!
Those warm, carefree summer months are short and sweet, and the beach is calling right?
But remember, if your child doesn't practice their instrument during the summer, it will be harder for them to pick up where they left off in June come September. If they return to lessons again feeling rusty, this can be very discouraging for them. As their lesson start date gets closer, instead of being excited to see their teacher and play music, they can feel embarrassed and down on themselves.
Ahh!! This is not WHY we have our children in music lessons. This is the exact opposite! We have them in music lessons to build their self-confidence and to teach them they can do something smaller each day that will turn into something big over time, we want them to have a place to express themselves comfortably and a place where they can shine and be unique and feel good about themselves and their abilities, and so many more things that playing music can bring.
Now compare that again to their feelings at the summer's end without practice. Feeling rusty, embarrassed, like they have gone backwards now after the months of hard work they did the last year and right before concerts to end with a bang! Everything that was easy feels hard now, and they are not excited to see their teacher and play for them etc...
The key to avoiding all this and keeping your “WHY” alive and strong for music lessons is to practice every day, even if it's just for a few minutes.
Here are some ways to help you keep your child's music practice consistent and their interest up over the summer.
NOTE: The key to success here is committing to summer lessons, camps, projects, and/or including music in your summer activities. Saying you will “practice every day” usually doesn't cut it in the summer when you don't have a regular daily routine, like during the school year.
Put on your listening music: Listening to music is one of the best ways to learn it faster and easier. You can listen to the songs your child already plays to help them remember them. They will have to play them LESS times that way to remember them still. That's right, you heard me right! If you have mastered a song and listen to it in between playing it, you can keep it performance ready with bigger spaces between playing it than if you don't listen to it. Crazy right? Go ahead and listen to the songs they will play next year as well every day. This will help them learn faster in the fall with less effort. What? This sounds like a birthday gift to me to remember with less work and to learn with less work. Get listening my friends this summer! The number ONE way to keep up summer practicing - LISTENING! But remember it has to also be in your habits and routines to actually get it done so here are a few ideas. Make a specific playlist for the summer including the past few years of songs and the next two years of songs that are coming up. Incorporate listening to your “summer playlist” automatically as a habit into your summer activities like pool time, crafts, cooking together, or playing with Legos. Think of the things you know you will do this summer regularly and BANG press play on that listening list first before jumping into the activity. When you make a playlist and a plan for when you will listen no matter what, it's easy to include listening to music in your summer activities! (More on Habit Bundling
Engage in a fun practicing activity: Summer brings new adventures and projects, but it's important to keep your child's practice routine somehow. I suggest first thing in the morning or last in the day. I prefer mornings but you can learn more about that in the Blog/Live Morning or Evening Practice? Which is Better? Make practicing extra fun in the summer by incorporating creative practicing activities that keep them motivated. There are SO MANY ideas on my Blog you can check out but some of my favourites are Staying Focused on Your Player with a “Treasure Jar” and Spring Flowers - for Reviewing Songs
Attend a Music camp: Summer Music camps offer a range of benefits that make them worth considering. Firstly, it avoids the loss of progress and momentum that can occur with a long two-month break. Additionally, it can save you money in the long run by preventing the need for extensive review sessions in the fall. Summer programs also provide intensive learning experiences, performance opportunities, and valuable mentorship and networking connections.
Build discipline and responsibility: By committing to summer lessons or camps, your child learns the importance of discipline and responsibility. They learn that when something is important it's everyday. They develop essential life skills such as commitment and time management by maintaining consistent practice in the summer, which will benefit them beyond music. By making summer practice “look different” but still happening is an important skill and mind set to learn that you can be flexible and still stay committed and consistent.
Explore different musical styles and genres: Summer programs expose students to a wide range of musical styles and genres they may not encounter in their regular lessons. This exposure broadens their musical horizons, cultivates versatility, and sparks new interests and passions. Try and new teacher, a new style of music on your instrument or a new instrument altogether. This is the time to teach your child to be adventurous and try new things to have a richer life.
Foster collaboration and ensemble experience: Many summer music programs offer ensemble experiences where students collaborate with their peers. Summer is a great time to play duets with your teacher or with a friend. You can put together a quartet and find some coaching, or start a busking business or a wedding gig duo with a friend. This develops their teamwork, communication, and musical sensitivity, when they work with others and will improve their overall musicianship.
Boost personal growth and confidence: Summer lessons or music camps provide a nurturing environment for personal and artistic growth. Students learn to overcome challenges at camps; they also can develop resilience for long days, larger projects and attention spans. These bigger week-long projects can really help them gain confidence in their musical abilities.
Create long-lasting memories and friendships: Attending summer music programs creates lasting memories and fosters friendships with like-minded peers who also share a passion for music. These connections can inspire and motivate students through the next year and throughout their musical journey! I have families at our camp that have connected from another country and stay in contact throughout the year, meeting in person every summer at camp!
Intensive learning: Summer lessons or music camps offer a concentrated learning experience, allowing students to make significant progress in a shorter period. With fewer distractions and a focused environment, they can achieve remarkable results. I have seen a student accomplish in a week what they would have in months with weekly lessons!
Performance opportunities: Many summer music programs conclude with recitals, concerts, or showcases, providing students with opportunities to showcase their skills. These performances boost confidence, stage presence, and a sense of accomplishment. In camps, performances are often in groups as well. This means they are more comfortable to really give it their all without all the pressure of a solo. This helps with performance anxiety issues and helps them to love performing and not just think of it as something with stress and pressure connected to it. Bring it on! I share more about performance anxiety in the Blog / live - 5 Tips to Help Your Child Overcome Performance Anxiety and Love Performing
Mentorship and networking: Attending summer lessons or camps allows students to interact with experienced teachers and professionals in the music world. They receive valuable guidance, advice, and mentorship, which can shape their musical aspirations and future career paths. An example is a young man who played in the music festival and I invited him to our summer camp and offered him a scholarship. You meet someone in the music industry and that can quickly lead to something else!
Exposure to different musical styles and genres: Summer programs expose students to a wide range of musical styles and genres they may not encounter in their regular lessons. This exposure broadens their musical horizons, cultivates versatility, and helps them discover new interests and passions. I went to a music event last year and did a few workshops with Kevin Burke, an Irish fiddler. I have a classical background and Cape Breton fiddle experience. I fell in love with his style and playing. Now a year later, my friend and I are going to Ireland on a trip to go on tour with him! All from a “camp”.
Collaboration and ensemble experience: Many summer music programs offer ensemble experiences, where students can collaborate with peers to create beautiful music together. This fosters teamwork, communication, and musical sensitivity and keeps many students playing for their lives once they get the “bug” of playing with others.
You can not JUST keep up your summer practicing but you can teach your children so many more things in the summer time! Don’t let your child miss out on these amazing things and good luck with your summer plans and practices.
Speaking of suggestions, check out my Free PDF download Checklist for a Successful Music Practice for teachers and practicing parents.
Your easy checklist for successful home music practices from Christy, the practicing pro. Whether you are a new or seasoned practice parent/teacher, this checklist will help you organize before, during, and after practices for effective and fun practices.
Check out my Free PDF download Checklist for a Successful Music Practice for teachers and practicing parents.
Your easy checklist for successful home music practices from Christy, the practicing pro. Whether you are a new or seasoned practice parent or music teacher, this checklist will help you organize before, during, and after practices for effective and fun practices.
INVITATION from Christy Hodder:
Speaking of amazing practices, let me tell you all about the digital course, the Practicing Pro Academy. This is for the serious practicing parents and music teachers and is an at-your-own-pace, step-by-step, online course to bring you more effective, positive, and fun home music practices. Registrants receive a special package in the mail from me, and I am with you in person with Q&As to answer all your questions.
Learn more about PPA and join the waitlist HERE for the next Practicing Pro Academy course. It's only offered once a year so you don't want to miss it. The registration will only open for a few weeks and I'll let everyone on the waitlist know immediately so that you can grab one of the spots.
LIKE, FOLLOW, and SHARE on Instagram and/or Facebook to be inspired and join the positive practicing music community.
Facebook: Practicing Pro