When the calendar says August, it is easy to get a sinking feeling. Oh no. Summer is almost over. But actually there is plenty of free time left to enjoy. I can sometimes feel like I did not “do” summer well enough. Each year I look for a new strategy.
In past years I have filled my summer to-do list with lots of projects. I like projects, so that has been fine, but this summer I decided I needed to give myself permission to have a little more “fun”. I gave myself stickers. No joke – stickers – like the kind your teacher puts on your paper when you do a good job. I put up my paper calendar and any day I did ONLY fun stuff, I gave myself a sticker. All this so that at the end of the summer I can look at the calendar and say, “See, I did have a fun Summer!!”
What is fun stuff for you? There is still time. Here are a couple of ideas related to music:
- Outdoor concerts – there are plenty of family friendly ones. Pack a picnic and some bug spray and make the most of it.
- Rainy day movies – in the theatre or in your house – how about a musical you have been meaning to share with your kids.
- Encourage your kids to give you a concert on the piano with some of their favorite songs.
- Sing a lot – do you remember any old camp songs? Maybe look up something on youtube and let everyone join in. Singing a “round” (like row, row, row your boat) is a great way to pass some time on a car ride or even an actual boat.
Make music a part of your “fun-days”, because …
Music Lasts a Lifetime
By now your family’s schedule is in place. Surely there are cancelled games and last minute birthday parties, but you are organized enough to make that work. The days are about to get shorter which means a little more “inside the house” time. This is the perfect time to encourage your children to get in a little more practice at the piano.
Getting into the habit of practicing is half the challenge. Every day, even a few minutes, is better than a crash course the night before the lesson. Playing the piano is a physical exercise. Your fingers have to get in shape.
Parents have told me that they have many different ways to encourage their children to practice. Some play first thing in the morning and others right before bed. Some set a timer while others have their children play each piece a certain number of times. There is no “right” way. The only sure thing is… practice makes perfect … or at least more perfect.
However you fit practicing into the daily schedule, there are three pretty easy ideas you can implement when encouraging your child to practice.
- Remind your child to practice. Truly they forget. Make your reminder as positive as you can.
- Listen to them play. You don’t have to sit right there, but they need to know you were paying attention.
- Say something encouraging after they play. “That is sounding better” “Nice work” “I like that song”
Remember, learning how to “play” an instrument is hard work. It is physically and intellectually challenging. However, once you get into the habit, it is a whole lot of fun.
Sometimes when the weather gets nice out and the days get longer, it is tricky to get your child to practice the piano. Here are some ideas that might help.
1. Schedule practicing for a time just after your student has had a chance to do a more physical activity.
2. It might be time to add a little extra positive comments … let him or her know which are your favorite songs and have them play those again for you.
3. We are getting ready to have our “concert day”. Maybe you can talk about what song will be played and do a little pre-concert playing or end each practice session working on that song.