Search This Blog

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Quick Practice Tip: Summer Doldrums

I have been teaching in my studio this past week now that I am back in the United States and finished teaching at strings camp. The students I have seen for the most part have done great. There is, however, a discrepancy between our usual practice return during the school year and what happens during the summer months. I chalk it up to the summer doldrums.

My students and I cannot blame the doldrums entirely for any lack of practice time, however, because life does get in the way on occasion. There are unavoidable health issues that come up or family emergencies. Even the family vacation time or other special occasion may block the regular practice routine. And I'll be one of the first to wholeheartedly agree that we need a well-timed mental and physical break now and then. I'm all for mental health days, as I call them.

My quick practice tip for the summer doldrums is to: review, renew, and recommit.


The word review can stand for several things. It can be used in the context of reviewing the student's musical goals. The word can also mean the review of the previously learned Suzuki repertoire. For example, right now I have three students in my studio who are reviewing their current books in anticipation of an early fall graduation recital.


I ask my students and their parents to renew their commitment to the practice routine and, in some cases, to lessons and the instrument. I may spend several weeks communicating with a parent both in writing and verbally. Renew can also refer to the student's interest in the violin. If the student's interest has lessened somewhat, the summer might be a good time to review interest in music in general. Perhaps the student would enjoy playing new songs in another style, such as fiddling or movie music. Nowadays, there are so many music books that relate to current movies and that have accompanying Cd's.


I ask my students to recommit to a regular practice schedule and to whatever goals the student and his or her family have set. Sometimes just the act of saying the recommitment aloud will be enough to rally things back to a good beginning and renewal point.

Along with the above suggestions, do not forget how well students respond to structure and routine, so be sure to find ways to use a chart or calendar creatively.

Happy practicing!

No comments:

Post a Comment