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.
Yesterday I went to Lincoln Center to hear the NY Philharmonic. I love this activity. I’m hooked. My formula is usually:
Cheaper Seats x More Concerts = JOY
(Although, yesterday’s seats were a little too crummy, even for me. It is good to discover your limits.)
In a time when any piece of music can be heard by commanding Siri, people underestimate the value of the live performance. And, by the way, although I love to hear that my students have been to a classical performance, I am referring to any type of live performance.
So here are some reasons to jump in with both feet and experience live music.
In no particular order:
No “devices” allowed.
Dress up clothes are encouraged.
The event feels special.
Musicians have skills worth seeing. They act as a team. There is a quarterback, special teams, kickers. They must play with precision, moving and breathing together.
Watching an instrument being played is amazing.
Hearing music you never heard before is educational.
Live music sounds and “feels” different than a recording.
Depending on the venue, certain behavior and ritual is expected. This is all part of the discipline of music.
Here are a few suggestions.
Before you go, listen to the pieces you will hear. You don’t have to study them, just play them in the background so they are familiar.
Bring a little pair of binoculars. Even from the cheap seats you can see the instruments close up.
When you sit in the theatre, check out the program. There are often notes that guide you to listen for certain elements. That makes it more fun. Some of the pieces tell a story.
I highly encourage you to give your family the gift of this experience. It does not have to cost a lot. For a little more than the price of a movie ticket, you can share this experience. You will be making a life-long memory.
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.