Before we moved to a year-round school district, summer was our time for fun and enrichment. My kids and I took field trips, enrolled in art and science classes and joined outdoor activities clubs. These are some of my fondest memories because we had the opportunity to grow and learn together away from the hectic pace of the school year.
For music students summer is a welcome relief from weekly practice, weekly lessons, weekly music classes and orchestra rehearsals. One of the wonderful things about music is it's different every time--why not celebrate this break from routine? It's tempting to put the instrument on the shelf just to get away from all the stress. Instead summer is the perfect time to fall in love with music again.
Just think, you have time to play what you want without preparing for the weekly critic. (That would be me!) Now there's more time to listen to some different kinds of music and maybe discover what you'd really like to play. And you have time to go to concerts and see live music. If you haven't been in a while there's magic in live music performances. And summer is the time to relax on a blanket under the stars while listening to a free park concert.
You can take some time to find out about the composers you like. If you are interested in Beethoven, for example, your library has 100's of books, audio books, videotapes and sound recordings--just about Beethoven. That's enough material to quench a summer's worth of music-thirst! The Douglas County Library even has a whole section devoted to emedia. There I discovered a huge library of music to play right from your computer.
Another great resource is the Petrucci Music Library. This website is a free public domain sheet music library that boasts nearly 25,000 works. Use this extensive resource for finding music to play for fun, music to work on all summer, music to play with your friends and even music to work on your sight reading skills.
Take a book about Beethoven or Mozart or even the history of the violin on vacation. Play a new piece every week. Relax and have some fun with music. Let your mind drift back to the reasons you wanted to play in the first place. Something inspired, motivated, challenged you. I'll bet it's still there. Bring it back by exploring something new.
I encourage parents to use these resources to provide a supplemental music structure during the summer months.
I ree public domain sheic 16, 2006 · 24,596 works · 60,875 scores · 3,263
What is practice? Why do musicians of all ages and competence levels need to practice? What about other artists like painters and writers and photographers? It seems like they just go out and do. Yoda would be proud--"do or do not. There is no try." Well, really painters and photographers are developing their eyes and writers are developing their voice. Musicians are closest to the art of dance in their practice. We work on developing our artistic expression while training like athletes.
Certain fundamentals like scales, arpeggios, broken thirds form the basis for most music. Daily practice of these strengthens the muscles while allowing fluidity and flexibility. The goal is to see a passage on the page and let the fingers just fly. This is practice for the future.
There is also practice for the present. This is the study of pieces to be prepared for private lessons or ensemble classes. To get immediate results, a student needs to break their piece down into different sections--melodic sections, technically challenging sections, rhythmically challenging sections. This is the practice that's great for the brain--it's problem solving!
I'm fascinated to read about competitive athletes preparations. They too work on strength, endurance, flexibility and they also spend a lot of time on their mental game. How can we add this kind of practice to our students' routines? So often in lessons a student will hurl her bow toward the string and then wonder why a beautiful melody didn't spring forth. I like to train my students to mentally prepare by playing the piece in their head before they move a muscle. Focus. Hear the music. Take a breath. Play. It works like a charm!
And just like athletes, the steps we repeat reinforce the outcomes we achieve. Slap the bow on the string to start every piece? Chances are you'll begin with a crunch at the Spring Recital. Repeat the same mistakes every time you practice? It's more than likely you'll make the same mistakes at Solo and Ensemble Contest. Take a little extra time to work on your fundamentals, to think about the details and listen to yourself. Remember: practice doesn't make perfect; practice makes permanent!