Now that school is out for the summer, you probably have a bit more time to do different hobbies and activities without the pressure of school. Summer is the perfect time to work on your music and your instrument.
There are many things you can do during the summer to keep up with music and even get better at your instrument. Since you have a few months before the school year starts back up, it’s smart to not let your skills fall to the wayside. You don’t have to practice all the time, but do enough to keep up.
If you will be going to music school in the fall, now is the perfect time to really build your skills so that you can get ahead for the next semester. Here are some tips I have to keep up with music during the summer.
Make a Plan.
Whether you plan on practicing for 2 hours each day or only 30 minutes five or six days a week, having a plan ensure that you will stay on track. Sit down for a few minutes and figure out your goals for the summer. From those goals, decide what you need to do to reach those goals.
You don’t have to plan out each day, but you should have an idea of how you want to spend your time. Do you have a solo you want to prepare or maybe scales? If you can, meet with a private teacher who can help assess what you should focus on.
Planning your practice means that you can focus more on the task at hand rather than just that you need to practice. You can also make plans to perform. If there’s a local group or concert series, you could look into participating for the summer to keep you motivated.
Follow that Plan.
It’s oh-so easy to make a plan, but it’s a whole nother story when it comes to actually following that plan. That is why, hopefully, you made a plan that is realistic for you. Do your best to follow the plan you made as closely as you can.
Obviously, things happen and plans change. So be flexible, but your plan means nothing if you don’t follow it. If you have a hard time following your plans, add something to motivate you. Maybe you can treat yourself to some YouTube videos or blog posts after you finish a practice session. At the end of the week, after following through on all of your plans, you could take a trip for ice cream.
If you miss a session of a day, don’t beat yourself up about it. It takes time to get into a new routine. Be sure to keep going, and at the end of it, you will feel so good.
Use Online Resources.
Music and all its components can get expensive. That’s why I love tools and websites that are free. If you want to download sheet music, use IMSLP. They have scores for so many pieces, it’s crazy.
There are also online tuners and metronomes. If you don’t have access to a tuner or metronome, using one online is a good substitute.
You can also find tutorials on different concepts for your instrument. If you are struggling with technique, look up “[instrument] technique tips” on the internet for help. You can also spend a bit of money and study with a private teacher through a video chat program.
Since it is summer and time for a break, be sure to take breaks in your practice. It gives you and your fingers a change to rest so that you don’t burn out. Breaks also give your brain a chance to take in all of the progress you make. Your brain can process all of the concepts you have learned, and it will be easier to execute those concepts in the future.
Now that you have more time to practice, you need to use that time well. It is more than okay to take breaks when you need it. Get a drink of water, stretch a little bit, walk around, or do whatever it is that you need to do.
It can seem like you should take advantage of all the time you have to practice, but the truth is that it is possible to practice too much. If you spend all day practicing, you will over work your muscles. That can lead to temporary pain or even a permanent injury.
Regular breaks allow you to keep progressing without the risk of permanently damaging a part of your body.
Listen to Recordings.
During your breaks, or you know when you’re up late at night, you can listen to recordings. You can find recordings on YouTube, Spotify, iTunes, and musicians websites. Look for recordings of pieces you are working on so that you can hear what they sound like. This is also good if you don’t have access to an accompanist, so you can listen to the backgrounds.
If you are comfortable, you can also listen to recordings of yourself. All it takes is a smartphone with a voice recorder app to get started. Recording and listening to yourself is a great learning tool. As a listener, you will be able to hear small details that you missed when you played the piece.
Recordings are truly a musician’s best friend. Well, besides a tuner and a metronome.
Take it Outside.
Now, this next tip won’t work for everyone; pianos need to be moved by professionals. If you can, though, take your instrument outside. Take advantage of the great weather that comes with the season, and play some music outdoors.
You can bring your music or play from memory, and you can play scales or your repertoire. Playing outside is a good way to get used to different playing environments as well as provide your neighborhood with some nice music.
Obviously, don’t play outside too early or late in the day. Unless you live on a large plot of land, your neighbors won’t appreciate being woken up or kept awake by music.
What are your summer music plans? Do you have any more tips to add? Let me know in the comments!
Thanks for reading!