ECMS instructor Kyle Peters with a student in the school’s Messinger Hall (“Messinger One”).
By Kyle Peters
School is almost out for the summer! It’s time to get ready for the beach, sleeping in, campfires and… summer music lessons? That’s right, summer music lessons! Taking lessons during the summer will prepare you to be more successful in the coming school year and allow you to keep growing as a musician. Here are a few reasons why:
You’ve worked hard all year to improve at playing your instrument. You went up a NYSSMA level, fixed your embouchure, can double tongue at a fast tempo, or can play all major scales from memory! Entering summer vacation, you can be proud of the accomplishments made during the school year.
Now imagine yourself as the new school year approaches. You decide to take your instrument out after leaving it in the corner of the dining room all summer. After playing for five minutes, you realize that you just don’t sound the same. Your embouchure is leaking, you can’t keep your double-tonguing up with the metronome, and you are having a hard time recalling your major scales. The progress you made last year has taken several steps backward.
During the summer, it’s important to maintain your progress from the school year. Whether you slow the pace down and take a lesson every other week or keep up with weekly lessons, it allows you to stay in shape and keep your chops up. With your teacher’s guidance, you can stay on task and stay motivated during the summer with weekly assignments and exercises to maintain your routine.
With no homework to complete, and no tests to study for, you can focus more on practicing. How often is your practice session cut short because of the English paper due next week or biology test in the morning? Now that you are free from schoolwork for a couple of months, you have the opportunity to spend that time focusing on music.
The summer is a great time to get used to longer practice sessions. Start with 30 minutes a day, and see if you can slowly get to an hour or two hours! When school begins again, you will be used to longer practice sessions, making a 30-minute session during a school day comfortable.
Your teacher can work with you to develop longer practice sessions that focus on technique, etudes, or solos and how to pace yourself throughout the summer.
Addressing that bad habit or learning a new technique:
We all know breaking a bad habit or learning a new technique takes time. However, with NYSSMA or Solofest to prepare for, a band concert next month, a soccer game each weekend or drama rehearsal each day until 5 p.m., finding time to practice everything is difficult. Summer gives us the time to work with our teachers to develop new techniques while breaking bad habits without the worry of falling behind on our solos and other schoolwork.
Expanding our Repertoire:
Solofest, NYSSMA and Juries are what many students are constantly preparing for in their lessons throughout the year. Without the pressure of these events during the summer, you have time to work on music that is outside of our comfort zone – Jazz improvisation, Latin, Classical, and Contemporary. Take your summer lessons to learn one of these areas of practice. You will still play daily and maintain your progress, but also expand your scope as a musician. You might also consider taking a lesson on a different instrument! Knowing how to comfortably play more than one instrument can open up many musical opportunities.
There is no better time than the summer to continue growing as a musician with summer lessons with the ECMS faculty. Don’t let your first month of lessons in the fall be review from the year before. Every time your teacher repeats him or herself in a lesson can be time spent learning something new. Take advantage of your summer schedule to continue lessons in music at the Eastman Community Music School!