Julia Pinckney Jones
How to Stay Musically Motivated in Summer
Summer's (Almost) Here!
The sun is out, school's (finally) wrapping up - it's time to get out and have some fun! So how can we stay motivated and keep learning when there's so much more that's fun to do?
We all know that taking the whole summer off from music lessons results in losing skills, which means that going back in the fall is frustrating because we "could totally play this, before!"
A New Attitude
So, first of all, we need to re-adjust our attitude towards music lessons and practicing. Ideally, this would happen all year round, but now's as good a time as any to start! Practicing piano (or guitar, or ukulele, or voice, or....) shouldn't feel like a punishment. It isn't any fun when your character keeps dying in your favorite video game, either, but you persevere and figure out how to win each "boss fight" - the frustration when you can't figure out a tricky phrase in a song is exactly the same. The only way to get back to the fun part is to solve the problem. Can we convince ourselves and/or our kids that measure 15 of the song on page 32 is just like a "boss fight?"
If you or your child enjoys playing pieces for others, give them the opportunity, and remind them that they get to show off their new skills, as long as they keep practicing! If they love stickers or some other small reward, create a sticker chart for their practicing (I can't speak for other teachers, but I'm up to my eyeballs in stickers - so if you need some to get you started, just ask me)! If you can discover the things that help keep that sense of fun alive, apply them to playing music!
The worst possible thing is when "playing" starts to feel like a punishment: "You can't go for a bike ride until you've practiced your piano pieces." Instead, find a few different music-related activities: "Do you want to make some rhythms, do the music crossword, or play your pieces for me?" If we can keep the "play" in "playing an instrument," we're halfway there already!
Something New and Different
Maybe the summer is the time to shake it up a little! Try a new instrument (for most people, about age 10 and up, it's easy to learn enough chords on ukulele to have a great campfire sing along, for example) or a new style of music (would you like to learn to play the blues? a little jazz improvisation? your favorite movie theme song?) - just doing something a little bit different can re-invigorate someone's enjoyment of their lessons.
Most teachers (certainly all of ours at Between the Lines) are happy to find new, exciting material for you, whether you're a beginner or more advanced. Actually, we'll do it any time you want, but if you've been working from the same method book through the whole school year but really want to learn some Metallica on the violin, what better time than summer?
...Or, maybe you could convince someone to learn a duet with you?
Flexibility in Scheduling
We know that you're busy and during the summer you want to relax and unwind and go on trips out of town and have parties. We know the kids have camps and workshops and sports that make it harder to stay on the school year lesson schedule. We feel exactly the same way, which is why we're extra flexible on scheduling during the summer months.
If you're going out of town for a week or two, just let us know with as much notice as you can (24 hours notice is the minimum) and we'll do our best to reschedule, extend the time on another lesson day or credit your account for the missed lesson. Now that school is out, we have so many more hours per week to teach!
Schedule your lessons, and commit to continuing your progress throughout the sunshiny months - you won't regret it!