Use It or Loose It
Typically progress happens two ways, we either improve or get worse. During the Summer skills either become honed or rusty. Without lessons during the summer, students loose the continuity of their progress. Technique and skills fade as practice time decreases. Typically if there isn’t something to get ready for, many students stop practicing or decrease their practice time.
Continuing lessons, even an every other week or once a month schedule during the summer, can positively effect a students progress during the summer months. They have something to work towards. Multiple weeks or even months away from lessons with no sign of lessons until the fall can put a stop to all of the progress that was made during the school year.
Lessons During The Summer
Typically students that do take lessons over the summer don’t do lessons every week. One week the family may be on vacation, another their teacher may be out of town (I regularly perform at different guitar festivals and workshops throughout the country and world). With this irregularity, some students opt to just stop lessons over the summer. I discourage this, and instead try to tell them why continuing in the summer is beneficial.
- Even a lesson once a month can continue development during the summer. If the student is a hard worker, and practices regularly, doing a “once a month” check up during the summer isn’t awful, and is better then nothing. Typically these lessons are longer lessons so that I can not only thoroughly go through the material they bring to the lesson, but that I can also walk them through what they should work on for the next lesson.
- Taking 2-3 months off means that it will take us (student and teacher) at least that long to redevelop the skills that were worked on towards the end of the year. New skills aren’t as reinforced as old ones (obviously) and are the first to go. Typically it takes a student 2-3 months to be at the same level they were at in the final months of lessons before the end of June. This is a huge ego blow to students, but if you don’t use a skill for a few months it will degrade!
- Consistency is the name of the game. If it is practicing, performing or even when it comes to taking lessons, being consistent will ensure that you make the most progress forward, and not backwards, sideways, or circular.
Have A Project
Sometimes it is unavoidable for students to not take lessons during the summer. Maybe schedules don’t line up, maybe they go away for the whole summer. Because of that, I tend to give summer projects to students. Typically it is a larger piece of music that may challenge them in some ways, but at the same time giving them a bit of a break from the past year as well.