- Don’t stop practicing during the summer months – Seems obvious, but if the conscious effort isn’t made to continue to practice during the 2-3 months of summer, you’ll find it very hard to pick the instrument up again when the fall hits and you start lessons up again.
- Allow yourself to take time off – This is very important (even during the rest of the year) to allow yourself time to be away from the instrument. Sometimes you just need a day for your body and mind to digest what you’ve worked on the day before. Every week I take a day off just to let myself relax and take in what I worked on during the week’s practice.
- Take summer lessons – Summer lessons keeps the routine of practice/have a lesson, thus you continue to make progress throughout the summer. Even every-other-week lessons or monthly lessons are better than taking a whole summer off. With regular upcoming lessons (even if they are monthly) you are working to prepare for the next lessons. This allows for larger breaks in your practice routine (for family get aways, etc…) but to continue on your progress with your instructor during lessons. I call those, check-up lessons, to help remind you about certain concepts or ideas that were being worked on before the summer started, or to see how things have developed.
- Attend Festivals – Whether you are an adult or a parent of a child, attending festivals are great motivational tools. You can see great concerts, sit in or even play in a master class, watch lectures, interact with other players (or parents of young children who play).
Those are some ideas that every student (young and old) can wrap their head around. Here are a few for parents who are trying to keep their kids interested in practicing during the summer months.
- Plan time off – Sit down with your child, decide on when they’ll have days not to practice. Do this in the beginning of the summer, plan out the whole 2 months. Be sure to include family vacations, summer camps, and anything that might already be planned. Also include days off that don’t include any planned activities. With that schedule now set, its clean what days your child needs to be practicing, and it is agreed upon.
- Summer Performance – As a teacher I book recitals every semester for my students to play on, I find that it is a great goal to work towards. So why not plan a small recital for your child to play towards the end of summer. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy, it can be for a small group of friends and their parents, or family members. This gives your child an opportunity to show off what they’ve been working on during the summer months.
- Practice buddies – If your child is friends with another child who also takes private music lessons, they can become practice buddies. If they play the same instrument, it’s even better! They can feed off of each other’s energy and excitement for music.
- Practice outside – Sometimes a change of scenery is all someone needs for an extra boast of enthusiasm!
For adults, there are some great, more intense ways to help keep the summer months productive…
- Goal oriented practice – Pick a summer goal to accomplish. It can be learning a new piece, refining an old one, a performance that you’ve schedule, etc. Now work towards that goal, set up small goals that will help you obtain the larger goal. This can be carried over into your regular practice.
- Chamber Music – There is nothing better than getting together with a few friends and playing music together. This is kind of like that “Practice Buddies” idea just for adults. Get together with a few guitar friends, or even friends who don’t play the guitar. Have some fun reading through music together, it doesn’t have to be a serious project, although sometimes it turns into one. Rock and Folk musicians do this all the time. It’s called a “Jam Session.”
- When in doubt, 15 minutes will do – If the day has been a busy one, driving kids off to camp, going to work, picking them up, going to a friend’s house for the night, and you realize before you go to bed, “Oh I didn’t even get a chance to pick up the guitar…” Sit down real quick and work on one thing you’ve been struggling with. Only spend 15 minutes (even use an egg timer if you need too!) on the spot. This still allows you to make some progress, and some progress is better than none, or even going backwards.
- Keep a practice log – This log may be something you start off during the summer, but it can be very useful throughout the year. Any student that I’ve had who has stuck with it has seen major results happen in their playing. This can be used in conjunction with goal oriented practice to keep you on track. Also, you can see what things haven’t helped you to get to your goal. If they haven’t helped in a week, try something new. Keep track of your successes, but more importantly keep track of what hasn’t worked. That way you don’t repeat the same mistake again.
These are just a few things that I go over with my students, both child and adult. Happy practicing!