But when you’ve worked hard all year and set up a good practice routine, a long summer break can mean taking steps backwards with your progress. Sure, it’s good to have a break, and we all need a little downtime – but making sure that you are practising regulary (even if it’s only for a short amount of time each day) will make sure that you retain the knowledge and skills that you have built up over the year.
I don’t take a long break over the summer holidays, as I think that keeping up with the music practice and lessons over the holidays is very important. However, I know that a lot of teachers do take the summer off – so I’ve put together a few tips on practising if it’s going to be a while until lessons start again.
Practice tips during the holidays
- Decide how long you’re going to practise, and stick to it.
- Practise first thing in the morning – that way it’s done and you don’t have to try and remember to do it later on. For lots of people, this is the time when they are most focused – so that’s an extra bonus!
- If you have friends who are learning an instrument too, try to arrange a time to get together and make music with them.
- Record yourself playing. This is the best way to know what you sound like and to be able to give yourself some critical feedback.
- Try to arrange a mini concert for family and/or friends. This will give you a goal to work towards, and motivate you to keep practising!
What to practise
- Your teacher will more than likely have set you some things to practise over the holidays. Make sure this is your prioritiy!
- Review music that you’ve learnt already – going over things that you know already will reinforce your understanding and ability.
- Scales. The dreaded word! But summer is a great time to spend a few minutes each day on your scales to make sure you’re on top of them.
- Find something fun to play. Think of your favourite songs and try to find arrangements of them – or try and work them out by ear! I have some arrangements of songs for cello and piano here. Feel free to contact me if there’s anything you’d like me to arrange (leave a comment below).
- Learn a surprise piece to play for your teacher at the next lesson!
What to do if you’re away and don’t have an instrument
- Listen to the music you are learning. Even if you don’t have access to an instrument, there are recordings of most things on youtube. And in general, just listen to as much music as you can.
- Do some research – there’s always something to learn! You could learn about the composer who wrote the piece you are learning, the style of the piece, the period it was written. The list is endless!
- There are lots of apps out there that cover just about anything you can think of. For reading music, my beginner students use Flashnote Derby – and Rhythm Swing is great for getting a sense of timing. There are lots of apps out there for ear training and theory, and so much more.
The main thing is to make sure you’re doing something music-related on a regular basis to make sure that you don’t take steps backwards over the summer holidays. I hope this article has given you a little advice – please feel free to comment below if you have anything to add!