With summer well underway and schools out for the holidays, it’s not uncommon for routine to go out the window. Whilst these relaxation times are of course fantastic for spending time as a family or with loved ones, without a little care and planning, it’s not uncommon for students to lose track of their other commitments that are usually part of that routine, for example piano practice.
Especially for those who do learn in school, without regular external lessons, many children and parents often find that either their child’s practising skills slip slightly, or worst of all when they come back to lessons, they may have lost interest in piano altogether. That is why today we wanted to put together a few tips and tricks to keep piano practice fun during the summer and offer some solutions to keep practice regular without it feeling like a chore to your child during their holidays.
Risks Of Taking The Summer Off Practising
Of course, as with almost any skill or hobby, not practising as regularly as usual can lead to a few undesirable outcomes, when it comes to piano practice, this is typically either:
Loss Of Momentum - As your tutor is likely also off on holiday, unless they have been organised and set a number of tasks to do over the summer, learning can stagnate, which especially when returning in the autumn again, because you haven’t practised regularly, can lead to a playing plateau. As children generally are more encouraged when they are able to see their progress, it can be a little unrewarding to be playing the same things over and over again without something new to challenge them.
Loss Of Muscle & Theory Memory - Again, not practising for long periods of time is not only likely to stunt your future learning, but without regular practice, can easily undo some past learning. In the case of children, this can lead to frustration and upset as it makes the learning process very repetitive. Be it certain pieces of theory, scales, arpeggios or even forgetting how to play certain pieces of repertoire. When returning to school, having to relearn things they’ve already learnt, particularly for those at the lower grades, this can put them off piano if it becomes too frustrating or tedious.
How To Keep Learning Fun And Engaging Over Summer
There are a number of tips to help your child want to practice piano over the summer when they may want to be doing things with friends, or other activities. Firstly, we would recommend reading our guide to encouraging your child to play the piano as many of the same principles apply, but here are a few additional ones to try:
Turn Learning Into A Game
There are a number of great games that parents and children can enjoy when it comes to piano, one of our personal favourites is the ‘storytime’ game. This is a fantastic one for children (and adults too!) as not only does it get them thinking creatively, but also gives them the freedom to express themselves.
Ask them to name either their favourite story or book and to write a song that tells the story. Of course this is very basic levels of composition and for some, this can be enough to create a full piece, for others who perhaps want either a bit of a challenge you can ask them to create a song on the white or black notes only, or even in a specific key like C major. Other children will simply enjoy the pleasure of having free time to experiment.
Another great memory game can be to create flash cards around the piano, these can of course be as simple or complicated as your child plays, but are a great tool in getting them engaged in piano and remembering theory without realising it. You can of course cover everything here from notation to keys to scales even to fun musical facts about specific composers or artists your child may like. You can create your own flashcards, or for those getting started, try these.
Get Them To Teach You!
Really want to either spend more time with your child and encourage their learning at the same time?
Why not get them to give you some basic piano lessons and exercises, especially if you are a non-musical parent, showing an interest in their learning is one of the best ways to show them how proud you are and of course also allow them to show off a little, all of this will help reinforce the message that they have this incredibly difficult skill mastered.
Even if you have no real desire to learn the piano yourself, getting them to teach you some basics will help enhance their own musical enjoyment as it gives a fun shift in their learning whereby instead of being told how to do something, they can show you. Who knows, you might even discover that you want to learn piano yourself afterwards!
Shake Up Your Practice Routine
We have a number of guides to this, from trying to keep a piano diary to changing your practice structure, but this would also extend into all kinds of other avenues of playing, for example if they mostly only play classical piano, why not try introducing some jazz into their playing?
Perhaps the easiest way to do this is simply to ask your child what THEY want to learn. Depending on what kind teacher your child has, many are often prescribed a repertoire of classical pieces, but their real passion is film or jazz piano, use this time to help them explore, or even find a teacher who specialises in these areas!
Join A Community Group Or Go To A Concert!
There are a number of piano communities up and down the country that are not only fantastic ways for adults to meet like minded players, but also a fantastic place for children to be able to showcase their skills, meet other players and come away more inspired than they were to begin with. Our friends at Let’s Play The Piano are a great place to begin and run sessions up and down the country.
Likewise, one of the best ways to inspire any pianist is to attend an event of sensational playing and give the child the aspiration that this is what they could achieve one day with a little practice! There are a plethora of ways to find local piano concertos near you, for example in Cambridge, we have the Cambridge Concert Calendar.
Time To Upgrade?
Whilst definitely not one for everyone, one of the reasons that a child may be losing interest in their piano is because they have either outgrown the capabilities of their instrument or are simply not inspired by it anymore. Explore our guide to seeing some of the signs your child may have outgrown their piano and how you can begin the upgrading process.
The same can be said for keeping your instrument in tune, if your child is perhaps playing on an acoustic piano that hasn't been tuned in a while, then getting the instrument tuned is a great way to remind them of how amazing it can sound! Book a piano tuning here.
We hope this short guide helps offer some inspiration to keeping your young ones engaged in their piano over summer! Explore our blog for more guidance, or read our parents guide to pianos here. For more information around upgrading your instrument, or finding the perfect piano for your home, contact our experts for more advice today!