With the summer in full swing, many students are taking breaks from their music lessons to engage in more seasonal activities. What many students don’t realize, however, is the importance of continuing practice throughout their break; a point I often push on my students. As practice time diminishes, so do many of the important physical and mental techniques used in the playing of their instrument. A stringed instrument player can expect to see their hard-earned calluses disappear, while a piano player may begin to see a drop in both strength and dexterity. The loss of these important functions will inevitably lead to much frustration once lessons start back up.
“Practice makes perfect” is not just a cliché; it’s an important realization many students struggle with. I try to impress upon every student who walks through my door that, if they don’t practice, their next lesson will be very similar to the one they just had. This can lead to frustration on all fronts, especially the students, who feel they aren’t advancing quickly enough, and their parents, who see precious time getting spent on repeating previously taught subjects.
One important thing a student and parent can do is to differentiate between practice and playing. Practice is typically very methodical, with a lot of repetition and mental involvement being the cornerstone. Playing is simply the utilization of what you’ve learned. By knowing the difference between the two, you can start combining them in a way that makes practicing their instrument a lot less like homework and a lot more like a fun hobby. Group classes, such as our Rock Band program, are a great way to bridge the gap and provide a fun way to practice and play at the same time.
So if you’ve decided to take the summer off of lessons, try to remember not to take the summer off of your instrument. If you keep up with your practice and playing, you’ll be able to hit the ground running when you continue in the fall and increase your enjoyment in music for a lifetime.
Guitar/Bass/Rock Band Instructor
Grosse Pointe Music Academy