Search This Blog

Sunday, June 18, 2017

The Nightmare Teachers Have

I could tell the minute a student entered the studio that school had ended. Many students plopped onto the couch and sat there motionless for a few minutes before the parent or I had to remind them to open up the violin cases and get the instruments ready to play. Others seemed to move in slow motion as they performed the get-ready tasks with lethargy and low energy. And then there were the lessons with glazed eyes, listless playing, and lack of focus and attention.

Yes, summer has arrived, I thought.

I have written several articles in the past about the Summer Daze problem, as I like to call it. And I suppose that I will write many more articles about this issue in the future.

What is "summer daze"? It is a student (and quite possibly a parent) who has lost focus and energy about music lessons. It is a student and parent who have stopped practicing, coming to lessons, or listening to the repertoire to be studied. It is a student and parent who have decided consciously or unconsciously to take a break and rest.

It is every teacher's nightmare.

Rather than completely stop the road to progress, I recommend that students and parents rearrange things in the home so that the ability development journey continues. I want to remind my readers that the Suzuki journey is more than just a method to learn how to play a musical instrument. It is a philosophy that teaches life skills, raises children with noble hearts, and improves family relationships. It is important that this philosophy continue even during periods of vacation.

It is alright to alter schedules and routines during vacation times, and I highly recommend this. A few minutes' attention to the ways that a family can arrange lessons, practices, and musical activities will inspire refreshing changes and renew enthusiasm.

Here are a few of my recommendations to avoid the summer daze:
  • Look through your calendar and schedule as many lessons as your schedule and your teacher's schedule will allow. It is okay to have more than one lesson in a week. The teacher can focus one lesson on one aspect of technique and use the other lesson to work on something new or fun. Perhaps your teacher can suggest some additional music to learn, such as fiddle music or popular songs from current movies.
  • Think about your day and how you can arrange your schedule so that you arrange suitable moments for daily practice.
  • Think about times during the week when you can arrange a special concert. Your child would love to perform for others, and this would be a wonderful reason to do some practice during the week to prepare for the event, even if the event is a phone call to grandma.
  • Perhaps you can arrange a special music play date with some of your child's other music friends. I recall a trio of young students who regularly arranged sleepovers that involved the violin.
  • Look through the local concerts and plan to attend several concerts in the park. Our local symphony offers several possibilities. It offers special art and music park events every Wednesday morning throughout the summer, and each week features a different section of the symphony (strings, woodwinds, brass, percussion). The symphony sections each present monthly concerts in the park, and families can bring lawn chairs and pets to the concerts. The big summer event is the July 4 concert with the 1812 overture.
  • Plan your vacation with your child's instrument in mind. Children can carry their instruments onto airplanes. I have camped out with my instrument and practiced under pine trees beside lakes. One time a railroad train blew right past me as I played. I had no idea that I was 30 feet from a railway line. That was interesting!
  • If you are unable to take the instrument, then plan to maintain a listening program for the child so that the child remembers the pieces he or she is learning or has already learned.
  • Make plans for your child to attend a Suzuki Institute or other music camp. Some of my fondest summer music experiences were my summer camps. I went to strings camps, and later as a teacher, I attended Suzuki Institutes with some of my students. We had a lot of fun! The parents who came along learned a lot as well.
  • Plan special summer events. This summer might be a great time to arrange a summer Olympics for the violin. Set a few dates for special Olympic trials and races, and have the child start preparing for those events. Then arrange to make medals and certificates for each event that the child participates in.
  • Listen to the Teach Suzuki Podcast episode: 100 Things to do in the Summer and try a few suggestions.
Summer time can be a fun time for music. I hope you find ways to add music into your summer fun.

Happy Summer Practicing!

----- Paula -----

© 2017 by Paula E. Bird

No comments:

Post a Comment