Written by & under performance, teaching.

Don’t break your musical growth during Summer Break! Keep on track during the summer months through music lessons.

By Robert Fisher, CSM Music Teacher

Ask any school age student this time of year how many weeks and days until summer break and many can give you a calculated up-to-the day (or hour!) countdown until the final bell of the school year rings and Summer Break officially begins. Alluring images of “endless” days off from school with few responsibilities can be intoxicating for students. The end of the school year can also sometimes bring about the unfortunate and ill-informed thought that summer break means a complete pause in any activity or study that requires effort and growth. What may have been considered high priority during the school year, such as music lessons and practice, can sometimes fall to the wayside as families make summer plans.

As some may consider taking a “break” in learning and lessons, ironically, the summer months are the best time for students to dig-in and encourage musical growth without the rigors and demands on time and energy during the school year! Without the pressure and worries of homework or testing, summer is a fantastic time to make great strides in musical ability and progress. So, what is the best way to keep young musicians motivated and growing musically throughout those summer months?

Music Lessons are the BEST way to keep your budding musician on track and accountable!
Just like any skill-based activity or study, the old adage applies: use it or lose it! Music is not a “one and done” activity that is “finished” and simply “ends”. Musical growth, whether learning how to play an instrument or how to sing, requires continual practice and growth! Any musical composer or gifted performer worth their merit knows that improving and learning never ends and in order to remain at the top of their game, they must practice. Consider all the progress made and growth young musicians achieve by faithfully attending music lessons and the countless hours of practice time invested in preparing music each week.

Remaining involved in music lessons (or signing up if you haven’t started!) is the best way to “stay on track” in musical growth. You wouldn’t leave a toddler next to a stack of novels and expect them to become an expert reader or author. Equally you cannot expect a young musician to “magically” become better by simply having an instrument/music available with no guidance. This is where music lessons, with a qualified and experienced instructor, play a crucial role in music development.

Why learn from a music instructor? Can’t I just “teach” myself?
Most music teachers are experienced musicians, with many years of highly specialized training, performing and teaching experience. Though many people claim to have some musical experience and most people claim some level of “exposure” to music, this does not equate to the level of training, expertise and value music lesson instructors can provide for students through music lessons. Music lesson teachers are best able to assess, diagnose, and mentor young musicians based on their years of experience and training. They know from years of experience what “works” and what doesn’t with different age groups and backgrounds. Good music instructors hold their students accountable for practicing and help students set reasonable goals to grow in their musical technique and ability. They can encourage and motivate while stretching, molding and growing their students in discipline. Instructors do this effectively and efficiently based on specialized training at music schools and years of performing experience.

Most of us trust and value professions requiring specialized training. Many go to the dentist, trusting them with their oral healthcare. You may brush your teeth daily, but this does not automatically make you a dentist! Similarly, you may listen to or may have even participated in a music ensemble in your past: this does not automatically make you a music teacher! There is an art and method to training students in lessons and this is the reason why instructors train and become certified to mentor students. Music lessons work! Don’t underestimate the value of music lessons with a trained music teacher!

In the end, music is what you make of it!
Musical growth is like a skilled mason constructing a tall brick building: it is built gradually, brick by brick, layer by layer, little by little, every day. There are plans, purpose, intention and skill behind placing each brick with mortar. Without continual touch ups and maintenance (i.e. practice), the walls will crumble, and the foundation will crack. With zero maintenance, the building may fall into further disrepair and will eventually collapse. So it is with music: music teachers are like the mason; planning lessons, inspiring purpose and direction with every note and passage studies, skillfully training and building up their students’ confidence and ability. Where there are “cracks” in technique or discipline, music instructors can help repair and restore those during lessons. Each assignment given is a carefully placed brick and the wisdom shared provides the mortar to connect everything together.

Imagine where your young musician will be by getting involved or staying in music lessons through the summer months? How “high” will they grow in their level and ability? Get involved and stay involved in music lessons this summer. The sky is the limit!