Five Ways to Have a Musical Summer

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Leah Kruszewski
Five Ways to Have a Musical Summer

If you’re considering putting your instrument on the shelf for the summer, think again!   Short breaks are fine, but not playing for a full summer can lead to a big backslide in progress.  For perspective, many professional musicians feel clumsy after being a way from their instrument for even a few days, let alone a few months.

There are lots of ways to make the most of your summer vacation while staying in touch with your instrument.  Here are some ideas to help you balance vacation mode with musical dedication.

1.  Switch up your learning environment

If a disciplined practice schedule and weekly private lessons has been your routine, sign up for an online group class or summer camp.  Group classes are fun and laid back, and a great way to meet musicians with similar interests.  To benefit from individual attention, you can always continue with your private lessons biweekly and focus on getting the most out of group class material.

2. Explore a new genre or instrument type

Talk with your teacher about switching up the focus of your classes, just for a few months.  If you’re a classical guitarist, consider taking jazz lessons.  If you’re a songwriter and acoustic guitarist, consider dabbling in electric guitar.  Depending on the style/instrument you choose, your teacher might recommend a different instructor to learn from as you diversify.  Switching up the curriculum both keeps things interesting and expands your understanding of music and your instrument and teaches you to think in new ways.  Jazz guitar expands your understanding of the fretboard and music theory, and a different type of guitar can teach you techniques and sounds that can inspire your playing and composition.

3. Set a fresh summer goal

If you’ve been diligently working through a method book all year, consider pausing the curriculum for the summer and creating a different sort of project for the summer.  Choose a famous piece of repertoire, a favorite artist, or a classic album to explore for the next few months.  Classical musicians could explore a suite or concerto (or even just one movement).  Flamenco guitarists could study a solo by one of the flamenco guitar greats (Paco de Lucia’s music is quite challenging, but earlier guitarists have a lot to offer beginning and intermediate players.)  Fingerstyle guitarists could get the TAB to one of their favorites that inspired them start playing.  Your teacher can help you choose a piece or study direction appropriate for your level and to break down your goal into bite-sized pieces for successful practice.

4. Record your music

Choose several pieces from your repertoire and record a mini-album.  You don’t have to invest in new equipment, all you need is a quiet space to record and perhaps a simple but decent external microphone.  Recording yourself teaches you how to polish pieces to as close to perfection as possible.  You’ll notice weakness that may not have caught your attention before.  Maybe you’re hesitating before chord changes or ignoring a bass line.  Perhaps interpretive devices (dynamics, tempo changes) that you’re attempting aren’t coming out as obvious as you thought they were.  Be reasonable and dedicate plenty of time per track/song.  You might need a full week to polish a piece and record the best take you’re capable of.  The best part of a recording project is that you have something to show for it afterward.  You can gift your mini-album to friends and relatives at the end of the summer, and save it to look back on a few years down the road.

5. Prepare for a performance

There’s nothing like an upcoming live performance to motivate your practice  Sign up for a Lessonface recital or open mic.  We’ll be announcing several summer recital dates soon - stay tuned and choose the one that suits you best.  Another possibility is to plan your own performance for family and friends.  Virtual concerts are easy to organize.  If you’re lucky enough to have your family and friends nearby and vaccinated, you can give an in person concert.  Work with your teacher to choose a nice program that really shows off your musicianship.   

Teachers, what other recommendations do you have for students during the summer months?

And students, what has worked for you in the past to keep you playing and motivated?

Leah Kruszewski

On this page you can find the full schedule of Lessonface's summer group classes for all ages:


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