Spark Summer Fun in Your Studio


Playing Interval Water Ballloon Catch

Over a year ago, I posted a blog about increasing summer fun and income here at This idea of holding a Piano Olympics camp to build summer income was spurred on by the countless games stored on my studio shelves waiting to be played. It dawned on me that using indoor and then outdoor games within a camp setting could be a great way to boost theory skills, continue contact with students over the summer and guarantee income.

Inspired by the idea of Piano Olympics, a reader named Gwen C. developed her own Piano Olympics  in her studio out in California.  Triggered by Gwen’s questions about details, I posted an article with more details  here.  I was pleasantly surprised when she emailed me to let me know of her experience with her camp. (By the way, feedback is always wonderful and especially so when a success story is shared!) As we exchanged emails, she invited me to submit a proposal to present at MTAC (Music Teachers Association of California) about this topic and I invited her to write about her first time out of the gate with her studio Piano Olympics.

Here it is a year later and I’ve just wrapped up my time at the MTAC in San Jose. I enjoyed attending part of the conference, presenting my session called Increasing Summer Fun and Income: Let the Games Begin! and of course meeting Gwen C in person. It was an honor to have her preside over my session. My one and only regret, why did I not pull out my camera and grab a snap shot of the two of us?–wish I was better at documenting events, I just get too distracted. So below is Gwen’s article she wrote after her first year of camp:

This summer I tried something new! I read a great article by Leila Viss about increasing your income during the summer months by offering “Piano Olympics”. Summer time can mean a drop in income when several students take the summer off. However, I was mainly motivated to create something fun, to get off the bench and to solidify some theory concepts in my students.

Playing rhythms on original instruments

Playing rhythms on original instruments

I started with a beginner session with 4 students that had between 6 and 8 months of study. We focused on note recognition, tempos and terms. Leila’s article provided many links to other sources that provided ideas of games to play and I enjoyed using my creativity to design games for what they needed to learn.


Presenting at MTAC

 My second session was with an older group, 9-11 year olds. This session was only 3 students and was a bit more challenging. Our focus was on primary and secondary chords, terminology and rhythm. For this group I purchased an “Eggspert” from and it was a big hit. They loved the game show feel to this activity. But, again, the biggest hit was the scavenger hunt. For this group, I created cards for primary and secondary chords in addition to relative major and minor scales. They enjoyed this game the most. I think they enjoyed the activity of it because it involved a lot of running to the piano and kept them active.

 I also created a relay race with pylons. Each student was given a group of notes and had to take them one at a time from one pylon to the next to create a major scale, then primary and secondary chords.

 This second group was a bit more challenging because their levels were more varied (from 2 – 5). I was a bit worried that the most experienced wasn’t challenged enough and conversely that the least experienced was a bit lost. But, we worked through it, I made modifications along the way. They all had fun and learned something in the long run.

 I am so grateful to Leila for writing about and sharing this great idea. I know that I will be offering it next year.”

-Gwen C

I too, am grateful to Gwen for inviting me to present at MTAC and also happy to learn that she is holding an Olympic camp again this summer! It was marvelous meeting Gwen in person as well as many other teachers looking for innovative ways to make summer fun AND profitable.

If you are interested in learning about my latest round of Piano Olympics (yes they are held every year and not every four!) Here’s and article about a unique camp I designed around creativity and green bugs! Follow this link.

Have you hosted an Olympic Camp at your studio? Would love to hear your success story!

About the Author

Leila Viss
Hi, I'm Leila Viss, pianist, organist, teacher, author of The iPad Piano Studio and blogger at
I enjoy teaching piano to around 45 students ranging in age from 6 to 91. I am drawn to discovering innovative teaching methods and successful practice strategies to encourage the average player stick to the bench for life. Customizing lessons for each student is a priority and therefore... [Read more]