Ah, summer — the season of beach vacations, picnics, ice cream cones, and diligent music practice.
Oh, wait – maybe not that last one there. In fact, with all of summer's fun activities and with some music students opting to take the summer off, it’s possible for a musical instrument to go days or even (gulp) weeks without attention. Luckily, whether you’re a music teacher, parent or music student, we have a few creative tips and ideas to keep music practice appealing during this sunny, summer season.
Make it relevant.
Baseball fan? Ask your young musician to try for a “single” by playing one song/activity from their assignments or repertoire. Two songs get you to second, three to third, and four is a home run. Even students who aren’t currently taking music lessons can improvise a song about their experience at summer camp. Don’t try to compete with summer’s magical activities – work them in!
Take it outside.
Some instruments, like guitars, voices and ukuleles, easily lend themselves to practicing outdoors. With some creativity, though, you can still sharpen your skills for other instruments outside. Grab fun theory activities like Meridee Winters "Face the Spaces" or some note reading flash cards and do them under a tree. Grab a piece of sheet music and name the notes. If you have access to a portable keyboard, many can take batteries for an al fresco jam session. Sidewalk chalk can be your best friend! Draw a game of musical hopscotch, create a giant keyboard and name keys as you step, or write and recite rhythm drills in the driveway. The potential for outdoor, summer musical fun is endless!
Make a relay.
Summer is all about games, and practicing can be one, too. Try something like this: play a scale, complete a page of MW Rhythm Village, touch all four corners of the room, play a song, shoot a “basket” of crumpled scrap paper into the trash can and DONE!
Music travels anywhere.
One of our teachers recalls a magical, musical vacation memory where she asked the hotel for permission to play the lobby piano. She played her recital piece. The guests and staff applauded. So she played more, to more encouragement, and felt like a nine year-old hotel celebrity. Moments like these can be some of the best memories of your travels. Don’t be afraid to ask. And when you can’t access an instrument, you can always explore new music through listening, watching and reading. Fill your iPod or phone with musical apps or songs for that long plane ride and take the opportunity to explore something new!
Some is better than none.
Some music students will forgo practicing because they don’t have the time or motivation to play for thirty-plus minutes, especially if they’re in the summer vacation mindset. You may find that taking the pressure off and removing time minimums can result in more practicing. Figure out fun, realistic summer practicing goals and watch as your student surpasses them.
We hope that these tips will help motivate summer practice and prevent that dreaded summer backslide. (There’s only one kind of slide we want this summer, and that is most definitely a waterslide.) Have fun out there, and happy practicing!
About Meridee Winters:
Meridee Winters is a professional educator, musician, author and director/owner of a successful Philadelphia area music school.
Meridee began her journey as an educator teaching elementary students in a Florida public school, where she discovered the curriculum and school system left little room for divergence and creativity. She made the bold decision to leave and attend graduate school to study Music Composition, eventually starting her own private music school.
Today, that school has spent two decades introducing thousands of students to not just music, but to Meridee’s trailblazing method that encourages creativity, play and higher-level thinking with each lesson.
As a composer and professional musician, Meridee has instructed at all levels – from professional recording artists working on albums to computer music classes in the recording studio, and from young beginners taking their first steps on their musical path to intermediate students writing their first songs.
Meridee is a dedicated advocate of creative intelligence whose foremost passion is empowering creative and authentic self-expression in each individual. She now spends her time developing new materials and books to nurture these. She does her work as an author, as well as director of the school, from her home in Delaware County, PA.
© 2017 Meridee Winters. All Rights Reserved.
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