summer lessons


Summer lessons…

Do you lose students (and income) over the summer? Are you tired of the same old same old? Would you like to infuse new life into your summer lessons? Would you like to keep your income and promote your studio?

Here are 15 options to consider:

  • Break it up into three-month-long “semesters” and let families choose one, two or three months of summer lessons.
  • Teach piano students to play by chord symbol.
  • Zero in on a specific genre (folk, country, pop, blues, classical…)
  • Immerse the studio in theory. Use games.
  • Teach students a new instrument (guitar and vocal students could learn some piano, while piano students could learn to match pitches vocally, or learn some guitar chords/teach them all to play recorder…).
  • Use a video series, such as Mark Almond’s Piano for Life. or see Reuben Vincent‘s article in Music Teachers Helper blog.
  • Use an online series such as podcasts from James Dering.
  • Show them how to create their own arrangements.
  • Teach composition. Have them put a favorite poem to music.
  • Choose a theme and songs to go with it (oceans, animals, bugs, space, summer fun…).
  • Have a duet summer, and pair up students for lessons. Or just bring them together near the end.
  • Have an ensemble summer and teach them their own parts alone, then bring them together for a few weeks before they perform as a group. Add other instruments.
  • Teach every student one or more songs on several instruments (piano, guitar, recorder, voice,percussion,  bass…).
  • Many churches look for special music in the summer–teach them appropriate songs. Take on an older student as an apprentice—let them teach with your supervision.
  • Put on one-week camps, emphasizing rhythm, technique, note-reading… Ideas from,

More camp ideas from Sara’

How do you change it up after the school year ends?

Have a stupendous time teaching summer lessons!

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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!

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As the summer months are fast approaching it’s time to get studio plans going that will entice students to “stick with it”. All students who intend to return to my studio in the Fall are required to:

  1. Submit a $50 deposit that is credited towards Fall tuition
  2. Register and attend at least one summer option between June and August. Students may enroll in 5 private lessons or a camp. Lessons are scheduled around everyone’s availability–always a little tricky, however, things seem to work. Thanks to‘s calendar, communication of all dates is always clear.. FYI: This year I am using Google docs to create forms and a spread sheet to assimilate all registrations and calendars. Crossing my fingers that this will permanently eliminate a nasty paper trail.

I desire a break from the routine just as much as students and parents. So, I enjoy offering a number of options that keep students on the bench and keep income steady during the normally lean summer months. Here are three of the options I’ll be offering this summer:

Piano Olympics

Summary: Every spring students ask me if there will be Olympics again this summer. Each “camp” day features…

  • indoor and outdoor age-appropriate games that review elements of theory,
  • solo work
  • ensemble work
  • online theory assignments
  • and most important–snacks!


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