• eleanor tagart

Summer Break: how to keep the music playing

Holidays can feel like a long time without lessons, but there is so much to be done in those times, use them to reset and find your practice habits again. Learn something new, find a new favourite piece or just take time off. Here are some ideas for things to keep you going.

Keep going

Playing the piano successfully depends far more on what happens between lessons than how many lessons you have or how often. Lessons give you the input, but the independent learning and practice continues between lessons: so keep at it, play your music every day, make a system for practicing and reviewing, write it down and tick it off. Older children can do this themselves, younger children will need supervision. It’s great for building independence and accountability.

Review review review

Play all your songs, they help the new ones. It’s easier than learning new things and you get to do the interesting stuff (like phrasing, shaping, tone, balance, technique).

Listen like a crazy person

Good advice for any day of the year, but particularly useful if you’re away from your piano for a while. Listening holds the music in your mind and makes getting back to the piano easier. Listen to things that aren’t in your repertoire as well, you may discover something.

Make a summer project

Depending on your situation this can be one of any number of things: If you have a piano available, aim to get play every piece you know to concert standard, or to practice every major (or minor) scale (hands together, hands separately, only one hand, one octave, two octaves, more…). If you’re not at home, see how many different pianos you can play, pianos lurk everywhere. Ask nicely before you play anything and be gracious if the answer is no: most people are ok for you to have a little tinkle though. Take photos and send them to me!

Go to a summer camp, workshop, or take lessons from another teacher

There are loads of these going on in the summer, often with spaces available even last minute so if there’s one near you and, you’ve got the time, go for it. There is loads to learn from listening to other people’s playing, and by attending lessons with another teacher. When you get back, be gentle with yourself

Time off causes our pieces to slip and it can feel like nothing remains when we get home. Don’t despair: it will all come back. Go slowly and make lists for bringing back pieces, first reviews (starting from twinkles) and through the books one piece at a time to more recent repertoire. Some will come back easier than others, don’t neglect the others, they’re important, and don’t try to do everything at once.

Every time we do this, we learn something new about practicing, about the music we’re playing and about ourselves.

Happy summer everyone, enjoy yourselves!

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