Summer is right around the corner. While homemade lemonade, trips to the beach, and sleeping in are perks of the season, the interrupted schedules and lapsed routines are not. If you’re a parent who is concerned about keeping your child’s practice schedule maintained throughout the warm, summer months, you’ve come to the right place. Many student musicians are on “vacation” until they’re back in the classroom in September, but taking a three-month break from an instrument is sure to set your child’s progress back. With more time on their hands but less of a routine, the only way to ensure your child keeps practicing is to become more involved. From setting time-sensitive goals to rewarding your child for practicing, here are a few ways you can encourage your child to practice and progress.
Set Time-Sensitive Goals
Since summer break only lasts a few months, it’s easy to make goals with a specific end date in mind. With three months of free time ahead, think of your child’s goals as an exciting personal project that lasts all summer long. Whether your child wants to memorize their favorite piece of sheet music or perfect their embouchure, summer is the perfect time for them to set their sights high. Make sure your child’s goals are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound. For example, instead of setting a goal to “practice more”, make the goal something more along the lines of “practice at least four hours a week until the end of summer.” That way your child can keep a practice diary or performance log that’ll help them evaluate whether or not they’ve achieved their goal.
Create a Rewards System
If your child participates in school music, you have two choices for the summer: enroll them in private music lessons or stand-in as their teacher during the summer months. Taking lessons with a qualified instructor, such as a teacher at The Lesson Studio at Music & Arts, can help prevent that summer slump.
One thing many music teachers do to help motivate their students to practice is establish a rewards system. Some parents use a token system, while others get a bit more creative. Whether you create a number wreath or establish a different system that works for you and your family, it’s important that your child feels rewarded for a job well done. As for the rewards, they can be small rewards (ice cream cones or special treats) throughout the summer or one large reward (a family trip to a theme park) at the end of the season. Regardless of the rewards or the system, focus on encouraging your child to meet their goals throughout the summer.
Establish a Schedule
Consistency is key when it comes to setting a practice schedule. Unfortunately, the summer months aren’t usually as structured as the rest of the school year. For this reason, try setting a general time frame (instead of a set hour during the day) when your child should fit in their practicing. For example, instead of creating a schedule where your child practices between 10-11 A.M. everyday, ask them to practice for an hour after breakfast. Additionally, make sure your child’s scheduled practice “time” works for them. Some children concentrate better in the morning while others’ creative juices flow later in the afternoon. As long as the practicing is consistent, that’s all that really matters.
Use a Practice Log
If you’re a working parent or share custody of your child, you likely won’t be around every single time they practice. To help keep track of when, where, and how often they’re practicing, ask them to keep a practice log and have their babysitter or caretaker verify that the time is correct with their signature, initials, or a stamp. To make the log more fun or interesting, help them decorate it to their liking. At the end of the week, check up on your child’s progress and help them honestly evaluate their progress. In doing so, you’ll show your child that you’re taking an active approach to their progress. In many cases, children seek the approval of their parents and other adults, and there’s no better way to show you approve than by simply being present every step of the way.
Invite Friends to Mini-Performances
Recitals and live performances throughout the school year help keep your child interested in and excited about their instrument, so how can you keep this excitement alive during the summer? Try putting on mini-performances for friends and family. If you’re new to the area or don’t live near a lot of family, you can be their audience. Just ask them to perform a new song for you once a week and act like it’s a real performance: pay attention, clap, and praise them for a job well done. Whether it’s a Monday evening mini-recital or a Saturday afternoon jam session with their friends, they’ll look forward to impressing their friends and family with what they’ve learned each week. And, as an added bonus, you’ll enjoy the special time the two of you spend bonding over music.
Music & Arts offers multiple performance opportunities year round, including during the summer months. Check with your local store for a list of upcoming, and completely FREE, Open-Mic Nights! Want even more tips? Learn How to Motivate Your Child to Practice.