Make Summer Count – Make Some Music!
(Even just a couple of summer lessons can make a big difference.)
by Jan Caimano – Associate Director, The Ridgewood Conservatory
Summer is just around the corner, and everyone (students, parents and teachers!) are looking forward to a bit of sun and relaxation. With any luck, you’ll include some concerts or other musical activities in your child’s summer schedule. You may even be thinking about giving everyone a break and dropping your child’s music lessons for the whole summer.
So, after 40 years of giving music lessons to students of all ages and levels, here’s what we’ve found:
Children and teens who take the summer off entirely come back to us in September playing at the same level they had been playing back in April or May. Yes, we know they’ve promised to practice over the summer – but without the incentive of having to show their teachers what they’ve accomplished, the practices are often half-hearted at best. At worst, they’ve developed bad habits or ignored their music completely. Although they generally recover the progress they had originally made by November, we essentially have to ask them to repeat the work they had done last Spring.
…Which means that you’ve paid twice for three month’s worth of lessons!
Students who enroll for as little as one lesson in July and one lesson in August do somewhat better in September. They’ve had the benefit of a more relaxed summer, but have had to review their study periodically and often maintain the level of performance they had in June.
…They haven’t really progressed over the summer, but at least you aren’t paying to repeat what they’ve already studied!
Students who study throughout the summer often make more progress than they did during the school year. Without the stress of homework and tests, they focus more when they practice. Since they accomplish more in their lessons, they see faster improvement … which motivates them to achieve better results. They’re free to explore new genres, play more exciting songs, and have more fun in their lessons.
…Those are the students who ultimately realize the benefit of consistent study, have made substantial progress, and enter the school year with greater confidence and enhanced self-esteem!
All of this may sound self-serving. Obviously, it is to our benefit as music educators to teach our students throughout the summer months. Clearly, though, continuing your child’s music lessons over the summer benefits your child (and your pocketbook) as well. It’s a win-win situation.
Try it this summer and let us know if you agree.
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Remember, summer is the only time we allow our students to take as few (or as many!) lessons as they like.
Schedule them once a month, once a week, or more often. Get a lesson or two in before and after vacations or camp. Plan just one or two now, and call us back to add more lessons whenever you find that time allows. Let your child try a new instrument or a new teacher, learn to sing or dance, join an ensemble or one of our performance workshops or end-of-summer camps.
Let loose and make let’s all make some music this summer!!!