Chase Away the Blues!

Shanta’s Cure for the Summertime Blues

Posted on June 25, 2013 by simplegiftspiano

I’ve been hearing a lot of my families talk about how they seem to be out of the groove with their practicing lately. If you’re one of them, take heart! This is very common, especially as school is ending for the year. I have recently gained some new perspective on what it’s like to have a child in Simply Music Lessons – my daughter Annika just started Play-A-Story piano lessons about 2 months ago. Here’s my list of tips to help you be the best coach you can be! By the way, these tips can work for the Anytime Blues, and most of them can apply to adults too!

Top Ten Tips to Beat the Summertime Blues

10. Change up Practice (Play) time. (Hint – use the word “play” instead of “practice”-see #8). Summer schedules may require a different sort of piano time schedule than schoolyear schedules. For us, after breakfast works best. We always eat, so we always play! What will we do on vacation when we’re away from any pianos? I am planning to bring a keypad along, so that we can at least do SOMETHING to keep the routine going.

9. Routine, Ritual, and Repetition! Your life will be easier if you just never let him skip a day at the piano. Children (adults too, actually) thrive on structure. Consistent parenting lets your child know he can trust you. I have been telling parents this for years and now I have direct experience! Annika has been taking piano for about 2 months, and I have had about 2 days of very minor resistance. She has already finished a 32-day challenge. I’m sure we will have more difficult days as we go, but we are off to a very good start!

8. Watch your language. Yes, I mean you, parents. There is incredible power in HOW you say something. Step into your child’s shoes and say it in a way that hears and validates her feelings. Remember, you don’t want to crush resistance, you want to surf on the wave of your child’s determination! Here are a few examples, which work best when combined with an understanding and loving hug:

“It’s OK if you don’t want to. You don’t have to want to. We’re going to do it anyway, but it’s OK to not want to.” “I am SO proud of you for playing today, even though you didn’t really feel like it. That is a REALLY grown-up thing to do. I just love what a responsible young woman you’re growing up to be!” “You have been working so hard on that song, and I can really tell by how smooth it’s getting. I am so proud of all the hard work you’re doing, and I know Shanta will be too!” 7. Exuberant praise! Applaud for your child after she finishes every song! (And apologize if you forget to do it!) Tell him how proud you are of him for playing piano today! Or for playing that song she dislikes today! ESPECIALLY if there was any resistance to playing piano today.

6. Transition time. Help your child get into the mental space to play–give him a couple heads-up warnings when it’s ALMOST piano time. Always state it as a requirement: “When this show is over, it will be time to play piano.”

5. Stand by me. Sometimes the best help is to be with someone while they work through a difficulty. Use the word “we” whenever it’s appropriate in conversations about piano. You can create a sense that “we’re all in this together,” and let your child know that you will be there to support him through difficult times.

4. It’s Game time! Find ways to make playlist review a game – drawing songs out of a hat, connect it to a sport your child likes, or ask your child to help you design a game for playlist review! Encourage your child to arrange medleys of their songs as a creative way to review them.

3. Bring your teacher “home”. You can’t REALLY bring me home (well, maybe if you feed me dinner!), but you can keep the teacher present in your child’s mind. This makes it feel less like you are making your child do something and more like the teacher is doing it! “Remember what Shanta said, she wants you to do it this way!” “Shanta is expecting you to have played every day, so we’d better do it!” 2. Talk to me! Bring it up in class if you’ve had a difficult week at the piano. We all benefit from these discussions! Other parents may have advice and solidarity for you, and having it out in the open is much better than suffering in silence!

1. Remember, it’s a Long Term Relationship. Like any other long term relationship, your child’s relationship with piano will have ups and downs. Powering through the down times, getting to the piano to play anyway, no matter what, is probably the best and quickest way to end a valley. Talk to your child about how he’ll feel up and down about piano sometimes. Coach him about being mentally prepared for a valley when it comes. Preparation can make hardship a lot easier to cope with!

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