Summer can be a welcome break from the usual school-year routine and offers some unique opportunities for your private piano students. No school (or homework!) allows more time to experiment on the piano. Flexibility during the day also means you can alter scheduling and plan duet lessons or have a daytime piano camp. Of course, teachers always consider how to make piano lessons fun, and to help with that, we explore some summer ideas and resources.
Part of a teacher’s mission is to keep students motivated to practice through the summer months when activities and vacations can interfere with practice and lesson time. Summer is the perfect time to relax repertoire and follow our students’ interest in exploring a genre that is new to them or one that includes their favorite kind of music to listen to.
There is a balance to maintain between allowing students to choose all of the music they’re working on and selecting pieces we know will help them grow as musicians. Encouraging appreciation for classical music is important, and teaching pieces and exercises are essential for development of proper technique, but changing repertoire in the summer can be a great way to keep kids motivated and involved. Ask your students which of these types of music they’d like to play:
You can also offer students the option to choose specific pieces or songs that they’re interested in playing. Why not let them choose a piece that’s available for instant download and let them get started on something they’re excited about right away? This is also a great way to get some sight-reading practice in.
Duet and group lessons give kids an opportunity to make music in an ensemble while spending time with their friends. Consider scheduling lessons that overlap to give two students time to work on duets.
- Famous and Fun Pop Duets have selections for the earliest beginners through intermediate students.
- If a student duet partner isn’t available, these Famous and Fun Pop books have teacher accompaniments included.
- More advanced students will enjoy C.S. Theme & Variations, based on Chopsticks, and Lady Gaga Fugue, based on Bad Romance.
Another idea is to run a weeklong piano camp. These allow for more social time, facilitate playing in larger groups, and introduce prospective new students to your studio. If you have students who’d like to play in larger groups, find six or eight-hand ensembles here.
In addition to new summer music, fun piano lesson ideas also include new activities that there often aren’t time for during the school year.
- Teach students to play from chord symbols and have them play from a fake book.
- Experiment with improvisation. Elissa Milne has written a terrific blog for teaching improv to beginners.
- Experiment with composition. Students love creating and performing their own pieces!
- Take a deeper dive into jazz piano with these jazz method books.
It’s also important to have support on the home front. Some summer suggestions for parents:
- Keep the piano or keyboard in an easily accessible place so it’s inviting to sit and doodle.
- Keep a piece of favorite music sitting out ready to go to encourage drop-in playing, even if there’s only a few minutes between other activities.
- Encourage children to share what they’ve learned in their lessons with a friend or family member.
- Explore opportunities to perform new music, from family gatherings to summer talent shows.
- Listen to music as a family – get the whole family involved in selecting music for road trips.
- Attend outdoor concerts – they are plentiful in the warmer months and provide a more relaxed atmosphere to introduce different types of music to younger music-lovers.
Of course, piano lessons are fun year-round, but summer can be a great time to experiment with new ideas. Let us know your favorite repertoire ideas for summer lessons and what summer activities you use for your students.