Welcome to Summer Keys! I will be posting a series of articles with suggestions to make summer studies meaningful and well-structured. As we reopen our studios (please see previous post) it’s more important than ever to plan for well-structured lessons. Generally I plan one or two major goals for the summertime. Perhaps it’s teaching new technical skills. Most often I plan to teach the next level of skills in an effort to get these well started before the busyness of the school year and repertoire for upcoming recitals and festivals takes over. As I have posted in the past, consistency is everything. During the online lessons I made it a priority to include new skills earlier than usual since some of our planned events were cancelled.
Summer repertoire can include genres you might not have time for during the school year. How about investigating a new area–perhaps Jazz or Improvisation? There are wonderful materials readily available! Students love to make up pieces and perhaps providing a little structure (a chord progression/key, musical line to embellish) is all they need to take off!
Another area most often neglected is Sight Reading. It is possible to cover an entire level of SR in one summer. Students like Sight Reading once they realize they are not “practicing” they are “Playing.” After all, aren’t we usually emphasizing that they break down pieces into sections in order to learn them well? Now’s their chance to play without those boundaries! Teach Key-topping, the process of preparing an SR piece to play by “fake playing” through before playing with sound.
The important word for the summer, particularly this one with all the distractions and upheavel is FOCUS. It is better to plan for one or two really important areas to develop than stretch over so much. Particularly when lessons are punctuated by vacations and other events, lessons can be spread out. This summer we have the liklihood that students will be around more since many camps are cancelled or delayed until later in the summer.
We are all longing for “things to be the way they used to be.” That may be a while in coming. In the meantime, adjust, adapt and keep your studios moving forward. If something isn’t working, reassess and move in a different direction. I know I am opening for “in studio lessons” on June 15th. I can’t wait to see my students “live!”