Encouraging Summer Practice

Lesley Schultz • May 2024String Section • May 5, 2024

Ah, summer, that time of year when we finally get to relax and take care of ourselves. It is also the time of year when many of our students put their instruments away not to be touched until school starts up again. How can we encourage practice over the summer months? Here are a few strategies to try.

First, is to encourage summer camps. Most major metro areas and colleges with active music departments might have a summer string camp. These could be day camps or overnight camps. Often, they have posters or electronic flyers with details about their camp. These usually have fees associated with them, but they might solve a childcare need, making parents/guardians more likely to sign their student up. For high school students, camps associated with a college or university enable the student to meet faculty, and perhaps even get a taste of dorm life which is an important decision maker for students as they explore their college options.

Second, make packets of music for your students to practice.  Keep them fun and light for the summer. If pop music keeps them practicing over the summer, then it is well worth giving them some pieces that you know they will enjoy playing through. In high school, I might give them a piece or two I am considering for the fall concert, and that gives them a leg up on the first few days of school when I would play through such pieces. 

Last, make it a game of some sort. Practice bingo can be something that you tie in with your schools’ PBIS for the first part of the school year or offer prizes for completion of certain bingo combinations like four corners or the entire card.  Bingo squares could be activities such as “Play Outdoors for 20 minutes” or “Play for your Pets” or “Take Your instrument to the shop for a tune up.” Instead of practice bingo, for younger students you could do an “Orchestra Karate” where they have certain things in a method book to practice and then pass off at the end of summer (like colored belts in karate). Once again it could be tied to your school’s PBIS incentives.  

Hopefully, these ideas will help you encourage summer practice with your students. Have a great summer everyone!

Lesley Schultz currently teaches secondary general music and orchestra at Princeton City Schools (Cincinnati, OH). Lesley is a Level 2 Google Certified Educator. Lesley keeps an active performing schedule around the state of Ohio, performing with several regional symphonies on viola. She is a member of TI:ME (Technology In Music Education) and serves on their National Conference Committee. Lesley is a columnist for SBO Magazine. In her copious amounts of spare time, she enjoys knitting, watching West Virginia Mountaineer sports and spending time with her family, and making TikToks about her cats.

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