I’ll admit it. I wasn’t always the best piano student growing up. Other things often got in the way of my practice, I was the typical over-scheduled student that you will still hear piano teachers complaining about. It wasn’t my parents who over-scheduled me by the way, it was all me.
When I was 13 years old I had an after school activity every single day, including Saturday and Sunday, and 3 activities back to back on Monday nights, when I would finally get home at 9 o’clock in the evening! My parents certainly tried to ask me whether I couldn’t give something up, but they weren’t going to force me and I wasn’t going to volunteer as I loved everything I did!
So how did I make any progress? Well I made very slow progress for many years, until one summer when I got really serious about practicing. I was working towards my grade 6 exam, and we had just started on the pieces before the summer break.
I committed myself to practicing every single day of the Summer that I wasn’t abroad. Not only practicing every day but multiple times a day. I wrote out a timetable for myself, as if they were classes at school. I had scales first thing from 9.30 to 10, Bach from 12.30 to 1, Beethoven from 2 to 2.45 and Bartok from 3.30 to 4.
I didn’t tell anyone about this plan, as that is always the way I have really got things done. Some people prefer to be held accountable, and I understand the value of this, but for me I have always worked better under less outside pressure, and more self-motivation. Luckily I have never had much of a problem with motivating myself, and I get bored really easily so I needed things to keep me occupied in the 3 months we get off from school in the Summer here.
Ok at this point you may be wondering what kind of a strange teenager I was to make myself a timetable for my Summer break! Thing was, I knew that if I didn’t write it down I would just tell myself it would happen in the evening, which it never would because the evening was when my friends would call me up to hang out.
Getting it done before 4, which was pretty much the time most of my friends would be crawling out of bed, meant I had this secret sense of accomplishment every day, and I could goof around all evening knowing I was laying the ground work for a much easier year of piano.
Fast forward to now, and I’m as busy as ever, and I still wish I could make more time for piano practice than I do! The best solution I have come up with is to “be my own teacher”, and I’m hoping that this idea will help those of my students who choose to take the Summer off from lessons to stay on track. How can you be your own teacher, even if you’re not a teacher?
The first sheet in the Self taught summer pdf can be completed in your last class before the Summer break to set some overall goals for the students holidays, and help her work out a date and time that’s going to suit them for their “lesson” every week.
Print as many of the second sheet as the number of weeks the student is off. If at all possible the student should record their playing during “lesson time” and listen back to their playing before completing the teacher’s notes page.
Looking for more practice resources?
For more ideas about teaching practice a piece try these posts:
- Piano Practice Tips – In this post I share the top insights that I wish I understood 12 years ago, so that maybe you can avoid the mistakes I made.
- Piano Practice Kits – This is one of the most popular posts on Colourful Keys, with step by step instructions for creating your own practice kits for your students.
- Effective Piano Practice Series – This series of five blog posts explores strategies for tackling common practice issues such as metronome work, score study and memorisation.
- Summer Practice Quest – If you want to keep practice going during the summer break check out this free printable.
- The Challenge Board – My wall of fame keeps piano practice going year round in my studio (even with technical work)