The kids have been out of school for a few weeks. And, extracurricular activities probably went on hiatus as well. So, how do you get ready for a new year of piano lessons?
When You Take A Break From Playing Piano
Anytime we take a break from something, there will be some regression. This is not to make anyone feel guilty. We all need breaks at times. Yes, even this piano teacher.
But, that does mean that students will feel a little (or a lot) hesitant about playing pieces “at level” those first lessons back. Especially if they didn’t play piano at all over the break.
5 Tips For Piano Parents
To help your child feel excited and ready to go back to lessons, follow these 5 tips!
- Ask them to play some of their all-time favourite pieces.
- Do a countdown until lessons begin!
- Talk about what your child is really proud of accomplishing or doing before the holidays.
- Follow up by asking what your child is really excited about or hoping to do in the lessons coming up.
- Listen to lots of music together. What did you like? What did you think should have been changed?
When you ask your child to play their all-time favourite pieces, you are doing two things.
- Keeping a set of pieces ready for performance.
- Your child is “practicing” without realizing it. And, the important review needed happens with a smile on his or her face.
Much like helping our children learn to read, keep the review experience as positive as possible.
5 Tips For Teen And Adult Students
To help you feel excited and ready to go back to lessons, follow these 5 tips! And, yes they are quite similar to the ones above.
- Play some of your all-time favourite pieces.
- Think about what you are really proud of accomplishing or doing before the holiday break. As we get older, we’re not really great about seeing progress we make.
- Write down what you are really excited about or hoping to do in the lessons coming up.
- Write down any music, genres, or composers you would like to look at.
- Listen to lots of music! What did you like? What did you think should have been changed?
Send details to your teacher before lesson start about any goals, changes in approach, topics, or music you would like to focus on when you get back. This gives your teacher a chance to find resources so you can hopefully jump into this your first lesson back.
The Most Important Thing You Can Do
Having music consistently play in your home is one of the best things you can do for music development.
Growing up, the radio was always playing in our home. And, if it wasn’t the radio it was a record/tape/CD. I loved having this music playing in the background. And, it also helped me when I was ready to practice since I could emulate the “Greats” in whichever genre I had been listening to.
When students consistently hear and interact with music, they develop a sense of what sounds good and what they like to listen to. It also gives students an auditory vocabulary (or lexicon) that will inspire their own playing!
The Fun Consequences
In our home, listening to a wide variety of music has led to some fun consequences.
When I first started Must Love Music, there were some late nights getting things ready in my office. Once our twin toddlers had finished brushing their teeth, they would each come down to say good night. There was many an evening that one of my kids would be snuggled on my lap as we listened to jazz music.
When our twins were a bit older, they often sang different lyrics to songs. One morning it was, “I am having cer-eal. Yes! I’m going to have cereal. For my break-fast. This morning!” All sung to the tune of “We’re Not Gonna Take It (Anymore)” by Twisted Sister. I still have no idea where they heard the song.
Or, we had impromptu dance parties which started for the strangest reasons. One of the boys will do something that reminds him of a song, like “Fly Like an Eagle” by the Steve Miller Band and this ends up to a full out dance party by the time we get to “Heard It Through the Grapevine” by Creedence Clearwater Revival. (Though the Marvin Gaye version holds a special place in my heart.)
Plus, it just is not a true road trip until we have changed the chorus of “Sweet Home Alabama” to “sweet home Alberta”. Bonus points if we are driving past the border at the time.
These are the memories that our twins will remember as they continue to get older. Not the chores or doing homework. Even though all those things need to get done as well.
Your First Lesson Back
Teachers have different ways of handling the first lesson after a holiday break. And, how that first lesson is handled may depend on how long the break was between lessons.
In our Must Love Music online piano studio, students are asked at various points during the year (including after a break in lessons) for a personal musical goal they have. It could be a particular song to learn, mastering a set number of songs, or improve in a particular skill set.
While we spend a short portion of time discussing this, a little time at home before lessons really helps.
“What is ONE thing you like to accomplish in piano lessons?”
“Umm. I’m not sure?”
Without having had a chance to think about this before that first piano lesson, this well-meaning question can feel very overwhelming. Think about it over a few days and focus on:
- What you need extra help with,
- What you would like to challenge yourself with next,
- Specific songs, composers or genres.
Encouraging students to take ownership of their learning through personal goal setting is part of this process.
For parents, when your child really talks up a particular song, ask them if it is something they are hoping to learn at some point in piano lessons. If the answer is yes, contact your child’s teacher to let him or her know. Perhaps they have music or can begin teaching it to your child at the next lesson!
Getting Ready For a New Year of Piano Lessons
A little preparation both at and away from the piano can make a world of difference in how each student sees going back to piano lessons.
Keep it fun and light. If you are piano parent, let your child know their opinion is valued. If you are a teen or adult student, remember that you get a lot of flexibility in your programming so take advantage of it.
What questions do you have about returning to piano lessons after a breakk?
Let me know in the comments below!
If this approach looks good to you, click to set up an interview to join our online piano studio!