Five Tips for Boosting Summer Practice

Summer can mean fewer lessons and less time at the keys. JoyTunes, the developers of Piano Maestro, are keenly aware of this and figured parents might like some suggestions to keep those fingers wiggling at the ivories. I’ve posted the article, originally written for JoyTunes, at 88PianoKeys.me as teachers may find these tips helpful during lessons and assign as home practice as well. A HUGE thank you to the JoyTunes’ graphics team who designed such adorable and fitting pics!

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Shopping Cart

Next time you are waiting in line to pay for groceries and your young shopper asks for candy or a new toy, say yes. Qualify the yes by offering rewards with success on Piano Maestro (PM). As your young musician works his way through the Alfred Premier Lesson books or Jennifer Eklund’s Piano Pronto, let him earn one quarter when a new piece is mastered and receives three gold stars on PM. Once enough quarters are earned, let him add his favorite treat to the shopping cart.

721f2ecd-9135-4d28-82e9-a0ce3d899b2eOn the Road Again

If a long road trip is planned for the summer, there’s no excuse to miss a day of practice when you pack the iPad and Piano Maestro. Since there’s plenty of familiar tunes in the library, choose one and invite a family sing-a-long as your pianist plays the tune on the app. Tips: pack headphones and load songs prior to your trip as PM requires Wi-Fi for songs one has not played before.
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Maestro League Baseball 

When its rainy outside play baseball inside.  Once a “batter” earns three gold stars on a PM song, she advances to first base. Every time three stars are awarded, the batter runs to the next base until she reaches home plate. The sibling (or opposing team) with the most runs at the end of the week wins a box of Cracker Jacks, a game of catch with Dad or maybe a trip to the ball park!
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Extreme Makeover 

Building a young musician’s independence at the piano is the desirable and the ultimate goal of both teachers and parents. Select a song from the PM that is available as sheet music or one from the method books featured in the library that seems equal to or slightly more difficult than what your child is currently playing. You can download PM sheet music hereWith little to no help, ask her to read through the piece as accurately as possible. With her permission, video this initial and perhaps somewhat rough first-time through the piece. Then open up PM, locate the same song and using PM’s Learn Mode have her gradually master the piece. Track success with a follow-up video of her breezing through the piece using PM at the intended tempo. Don’t forget to watch both videos together and marvel at the extreme makeover!
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Dynamic Duo

If friends or cousins are hanging around, it can be hard to maintain a practice routine. Encourage your pianist to play PM with his favorite buddy to stay active at the keys. After a PM song is chosen, your child will assign one note (such as Middle C) to his friend and help him identify it on the screen and find it on the keyboard. It may be best to begin learning the “duet” by using the PM Learn Mode first. Your pianist will play every note except Middle C and will need to make way for his buddy’s finger to play it instead. The bench may be a little crowded but there will be plenty of room for giggles.
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Leila Viss

Creative Pianist, Piano Teacher, Organist, Blogger and Author of The iPad Piano Studio

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