Three Powerful Ways to Motivate Summertime Music Practice

By Olesya MacNeil

Parenting Motivating Music Practice

Music teacher Olesya MacNeil offers advice for keeping your child’s music skills strong during the break. PHOTO COURTESY OLESYA MACNEIL

As a teacher, I am frequently asked how to encourage children to practice during summer break and school holidays. Some experts believe children who do not practice (or rarely practice) during summer will need one additional month of practice to recover their skill at the end of the holiday.

So, what can you do?

Get involved. Ask your child about the piece he or she is working on. Sit with your child and encourage her or him to practice one phrase at a time, polishing difficult parts. Set a specific number of times to practice each piece. Play an instrument along with your child, or clap your hands along with your child as he or she plays.

Have fun! Play a game. Encourage your child to try new things, such as practicing with his or her eyes closed, or playing slow, then fast, quiet, then loud. Make up a holiday song together. Get physical by wiggling your head or dancing while you play.

Set a reasonable goal. We all need a holiday break, so determine how many days you would like your child to practice during the summer. If your child is learning to play piano and there is no piano on your family trip, then pack flash cards to practice music notation, play musical games to exercise your child’s knowledge of music theory, or buy a hand exerciser to strengthen your child’s fingers.

How many adults do you know who wish their parents had encouraged them to practice when they were children? Remember: No one regrets learning an instrument. Encourage your young musicians now, and they will thank you later.

Olesya MacNeil is the founder of Music Teacher LA, which provides in-home and in-studio music lessons (piano, voice, violin, guitar, drum and woodwinds) and piano tuning services in Los Angeles and the South Bay. Visit them at

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