Lounge on the beach or practice scales couped up at home?

Tough choice…not.

Summer is on the near horizon, which means music students, who are also regular students, are getting ready to throw their papers in the air and run wild.

Just because summer is the one time you can actually soak up Vitamin D the natural way and get your sanity back from the long winter months doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice progress on your instrument. You CAN enjoy your break while also continuing to improve your musical skills.

Summer for musicians is a bit of an anomaly to other academic subjects. Most “normal” people close the textbooks and get outside. Musicians, however, still need to keep up their work in order to move forward at a good pace. That can be challenging without performances and lessons on the calendar regularly. So what’ s the secret?

Here are the top five ways to motivate summer practice:

  1. Change up the music

    Always wanted to try jazz improvisation? Or learn your favorite folk tunes? Summer is a great time. Without the pressure of performances on a regular basis, you can pick different music than would normally be assigned to you. Use the long, hot days to dream and experiment.

  2. Go back to basics

    No need to coup yourself up in an air-conditioned (or not air conditioned) room for hours when you could be enjoying your time in other ways. Getting through your basics every day keeps them fresh while also allowing you to spend less time practicing. Scales are the perfect example. Want to keep them in your fingers while still catching enough waves? Make them your first priority and you’ll start to learn them quickly.

  3. Structure your time

    Make your practice schedule consistent. The best way to do so is to pick the same time each day to dedicate to playing. The best time varies for each person, but consider playing first thing in the morning before the rest of the day’s fun activities. Then, you’ll feel accomplished for getting your practicing done and will be inclined to stick to the same schedule each day.

  4. Make rewards out of it

    If you memorize your scales or learn an entire new piece, take yourself out for ice cream. Once you accomplish a goal you’ve set for yourself or your teacher has helped to set for you, make yourself feel the positive impact of it. Spend a little extra time swimming or go to an amusement park. Parents can be helpful motivators for these rewards.

  5. Lighten the load

    No need to overload yourself with tons of new things just because you have more time. Maybe just focus on one or two pieces, or your scales, rather than a whole new repertoire. Remember, summer breaks are important for everyone’s mental and physical health, and to help you be refreshed to jump back into learning fulltime once fall comes. And don’t worry, it will soon enough. 

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