Summertime is important for my family and my piano students’ families too. My son and I get to do some fun family activities, and my students get a much needed break from school. Summer also means that my piano students are busy doing different camps or activities, and going on family vacations. Today I’m going to talk about my summer teaching schedule and goals, and share how I’m engaging students even if they don’t come to lessons every week.
I don’t know about you, but I enjoy a little break from teaching piano over the summer. It’s important to enjoy the warm weather, especially when you live somewhere with four seasons. It’s important to create memories and be active in the community. And it’s important to slow down the pace a little bit and give ourselves some time to breathe.
Summer Piano Lessons
Hopefully most of my students get a lesson in twice a month. I certainly don’t recommend taking a whole summer off, especially for the younger kids, because they forget most of what they learned and we spend a whole month reviewing in the fall. I also can’t imagine spending two or three consecutive months not playing piano; but that’s why I’m a piano teacher!
Summer Scales Challenge
Take a look at the Facebook Live I did about our summer challenge, and while you’re there, please like my Facebook Page 🙂
This year, I came up with a simple activity for my students to accomplish in the months of June and July. I created a chart with each student who I know will make the majority of their lessons this summer, and with all of the major scales. The goal is for each student to play six different scales for me successfully. For my little beginners, this means a five finger scale, whereas my intermediate students need to do one octave hands together, and the more advanced students are working on two octave scales.
The nice thing about this challenge is that all of my students at any level can do C and G, because all of my littles have done the C five finger scale this year. Since I use the Piano Pronto method, many of my students already know C, G and F from Movement 1, and a few learned D in Movement 2. So, (surprise to them!) they come into this challenge with 2-4 scales already learned and able to be checked off.
There’s something very satisfying about playing a scale well. Even my students who I drag through method books like to play scales. I have 16 students doing the challenge so far this summer. If they each learn six scales, that’s 96 scales for the whole studio for the summer. I think it’s an achievable goal. Some students will learn more scales, and some will just struggle with one or two, but they’ll all keep learning through the whole summer.
I decided that if my studio reaches that magic scale number (96) this year, we’ll have an ice cream party. Ice cream, popsicles, and watermelon in the beginning of August. In the past, I’ve had some younger students be very disappointed that they worked hard on a challenge and didn’t get anything at the end. This way, we all win: I get their participation, they learn, and we all eat ice cream.
Keep Them Coming Back
Even though I want to enjoy the summer, I do need to teach for the income. I’m fortunate to have built my studio up enough that I can stand to have fewer students during the summer. But when those dedicated parents bring me their tanned kids that they ripped right from the pool, I need to make sure the students also see the value in coming to their lesson. Yes, they had to leave the zoo a little early to go to their piano lesson, but if they work hard they can have a fun party at the end of the summer. These are the activities that keep kids interested, keep them invested, and keep them coming back.
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Do you teach during the summer? How do you keep students engaged at the piano when the summer sun is calling to them?