Holiday Break Practice Motivation Ideas

We all know that without the extra motivation and accountability from the teacher, students tend to take a break from the piano as well as lessons.  This can be dangerous, in that students will forget what they have learned rather than continue to be challenged in fun and educational ways at the piano.  So, how can we, as teachers, motivate and inspire our students to continue to learn, practice, and enjoy the piano when they are on vacation?

1.    Check out Mike Saville’s article blog on for ideas on “Holiday Practice Projects” for some great ideas.

2.    Another idea… have your students listen to music (classical styles are a great start) and write a short paragraph about what they hear… *time signature, *instruments, *moods & musical imagery, *dynamic contrasts and the use of music items, such as staccato, slurs, and fermatas.  Perhaps they can look up the origin and composer of the piece and the story behind the actual composition & creation.  Perhaps give a prize (gift certificate to TCBY or Target) to the student who finishes the most projects/songs.

3.    My students love to come up with games.  They especially enjoy when a game they have created or made up is included in my private lesson sessions with the other students!  By encouraging your students to come up with their own ideas and to create, imagine, and organize those ideas, you are challenging them to stretch themselves in their musical abilities.  Their confidence and self-esteem at the piano and in music in general is boosted in a very special and motivating way.  A fun game for everyone I’ve taught is… play with your eyes closed!  Often, they are amazed at what they can do without looking – and their music will often have a personality of it’s own – greater expression, a wider dynamic range, a unique use of tempo changes, and more control & confidence.

4.    If your instrument can be moved from room to room, a change of scenery can be the extra boost to the level of enthusiasm and motivation.  Pianos shouldn’t be moved, but brass, string, keyboards, & percussion instruments could be if there is room in various areas.  If you do, send me a pic!  Remember the poem, “Cats Sleep Anywhere”?  “Musicians Play Everywhere!”

5.    Encourage the parents and family members to have their little one put on concerts for family and friends.  They should sit in the room with the instrument often… I always play better and enjoy what I’m doing when someone is there to listen & enjoy.  Otherwise, playing a musical instrument can be a very lonely experience.  There is, however, a very large difference between practicing (problem solving with repetition & care) and performing.

6.    Ask your students to review all the basics… everything they’ve learned from all their previous books and songs.  I used to go all the way through my old method books every chance I had.

7.    Assign your students extra pieces during the break (let them pick the songs) and encourage them to perform them for family & friends during get-togethers.

I hope these helped…

Have a wonderful year!


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