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May 31, 2018

How to Make Your Music Student Happy this Summer

by Lara Levitan

For many music students, summer means no school, fewer obligations, and a more relaxed attitude toward music practice. Rather than fight summer’s chill vibe, why not go with it and have a little fun with a new project?

Whether you’re a teacher, or a parent, or a student yourself, you can put the following project ideas into action, or use them as a jumping off point for coming up with your own. But here’s a tip: the project should feel genuinely fun and exciting to the student, and focus on an area they don’t have time to explore during the school year.

Reevaluate with your student what they love about music. Ask, what do they really enjoy? What would they like to learn more about? When they wake up in the morning, what kind of project would make them jump out of bed with excitement?

Here are 16 ideas for inspiring summer music projects:

1. Learn a more ambitious pop song in a new key signature.

2. Work with a new and/or specialized method book (like one of these!).

3. Dedicate the entire summer to learning songs by one composer or songwriter the student admires.

4. Write a medley of favorite songs.

5. Explore a new genre like jazz or boogie-woogie.

6. Make videos of yourself performing your favorite songs and create your own YouTube channel. (And if you do, please send us a link so we can follow you!)

7. Learn the Bach Inventions! These are a relatively simple way to appreciate the incredible logic of Bach’s brain; each hand plays a one-note-at-a-time sequence, and you watch the two hands interact as if they’re a DNA double helix.

8. Record an album of your work. Use your iPhone for recording, burn the tracks to a CD, and have fun creating album artwork and track listings. For students who like to improvise, work with your teacher to devise semi-structured improvisations, record, and name them.

9. For students who don’t like to improvise, do the same thing but record favorite repertoire from the past year or so.

10. Learn to solo in a favorite style like a favorite performer, artist or band. Learn others’ solos and how to create your own. Jam with your teacher.

11. Learn to play chords in a favorite style, to accompany voice, play in a band, write songs or just boost your playing.

12. Create a band, duo or trio with a new friend or two. Learn to play covers together, or create original music!

13. Prepare a show of any style music. Perform it in front of an audience, whether it be your own family, friends, or neighbors.

14. Make your own book of any theme you like (exercises, solos, history theory or any project).

15. Create a show, list, or portfolio of all of your greatest accomplishments as a music student.

16. Create a glossary of all of your favorite riffs that you can play, and compile them all in your very own riff encyclopedia!

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