Effective and Efficient Summer Practice
We all know that feeling… July hits and we take a deep breath, “Ahhh, finally some time to breathe!” Then students and parents begin their summer break with all the right intentions, to practice daily, or at least most days of the week. But first, they take a few days break.
Then inevitably, two off days turn into three, then four, and before you know it, you’ve slipped into practicing once a week. After all, it’s hot and they’re children! Practicing becomes more and more difficult to get to, it’s not a priority anymore.
We all know what happens then. You blink and look at the calendar, “Excuse me, it’s August 28th already?! Lessons start in less than 2 weeks, and we haven’t practiced in WEEKS!” Instead of cramming eight weeks of practice into 1.5 weeks, here are five strategies we use to keep practice happening, and keep the summer still enjoyable.
1. Sign up for summer lessons
This is by far the easiest way to stay on top of practicing! Nothing keeps us more motivated to practice than having to prove our work to someone, or being held accountable. We don’t want to waste the time spent in lessons, so why not sign up for summer lessons? Even signing up for a couple of lessons can keep the ball rolling and give everyone the motivation necessary to practice more regularly. (Current students can sign up for summer lessons here, and new students can request a trial lesson here to get started.)
2. Practice in the morning
The second easiest tip is to get practice done first thing, and right away. I practice before I’ve even had breakfast, so that I know it’s done and I don’t have to worry about it later in the day when other tasks are fighting for my attention. Most people are most productive and creative earlier in the day. This is because our brain is fresh from just waking up, and hasn’t had time to get fatigued yet. (Here is a Psychology Today article on being productive, spoiler, it’s in the morning!)
3. Get your teacher on board
Even if you aren’t taking lessons over the summer, talk to your teacher and ask them about ways to stay motivated to practice. You and your child might find yourself with more time on your hands, this is an excellent time to do review practice or get really nitty gritty about practice spots your teacher is picky with. Have your teacher assign extra work or additional steps for over the weeks you don't see them so you have a new task when the old one is finished or loses it’s flavour. Doing this means you won’t be tempted to work ahead without your teacher’s approval.
4. Use travel time to practice other musical skills
There are lots of skills you can practice without your instrument while road tripping or flying somewhere! Repertoire playlists, note reading, rhythm exercises, worksheets and musical activities are all things you can do in the car or on a plane. Ask your teacher to give you some ideas.
5. Plan to not practice
Finally, put no-practice time on your calendar! If you’re going to schedule practice time into your day or week, you should also schedule practice-less time. There are always going to be surprise events that pop up, as well as planned ones, but it does a world of good to take a holiday from practicing when you know you’ve earned it. The school year is a whirlwind of activities, events and tasks, everyone needs to take a holiday to recharge for the new year. Taking some time off can renew you in ways that regular practice can’t!
Stay cool and motivated!