Though we all acknowledge that taking time away from your lessons is less than ideal in terms of learning, some students do opt to take time off during the summer and for some there is simply no option. We know that students often resolve to make time to keep playing during their absence. However, despite that conviction they get busy doing other things and very little if any practice actually happens.
Now that summer is just about over we are fortunate to have the opportunity to welcome many of the students who have been away back to the school to resume their lessons. As exciting as it can be to return please be prepared for the fact that there can be a bit of initial frustration over what may have been forgotten. We want to acknowledge that it can be a bit difficult but not impossible to get back into the swing of things!
Not all students suffer from setbacks after a break but it is better to acknowledge and prepare for the possibility than to be surprised and overwhelmed by it. Following are some of what can be expected and a few suggestions for effectively dealing with it.
While some may think that students will come back to music lessons rejuvenated after summer break, that is not always the case. During their time off, students can lose some of the skills and the dexterity they had worked to attain, as they were not being reinforced. This can result in the necessity to backtrack and review forgotten material during the first several lessons after a break. It is best not to view this as a negative thing.
Additionally, students may find it difficult to get back into the habit of a routine practice schedule. Playing the instrument may feel awkward at first due to loss of muscle memory. It is even possible that the new lesson time is not as conducive as the one you left behind in the spring. All of this can lead to a bit of frustration when lessons are resumed.
If the new lesson time is not ideal, let us know. Though we cannot make any promises we can certainly work to improve that over time. Getting back into a routine, once school and activities resume, can be challenging. Here are some tips that can help to ease the way back into lessons after a short absence.
It is important for students to know that it is normal to digress a a bit during a break. Encourage students to be patient with themselves allowing for time to get reacquainted with their instrument and back to the level of proficiency attained before the break. Some students get frustrated and expect to pick up right where they left off. It can be disconcerting to be rusty and that can cause some students to lose motivation too quickly! It will all come back in time as long as the student is patient, practices, is persistent and avoids stressing and worrying.
It is a fact that anything that is scheduled in advance is much more likely to get done. If practicing is on your calendar every day after dinner, for example, the practice will happen. If the student had not been on a schedule before the break now is a perfect time to make the commitment to scheduling regular practice time into your day.
Where possible, practice should occur at about the same time everyday (ex: after you finish your homework), or perhaps it will vary based on the day of the week. Do what works for you and your family but be consistent. This will go a long way toward helping students to get back to where they were and even quickly surpass their own expectations.
Some teachers recommend creating a practice chart. Making lists and recording practice works well for many students. Once the practice is recorded, the student becomes much more accountable for what is practiced and for how long they practice. Crossing items to do off of a list can be very satisfying for some!
Following these guidelines and referring back to many of the previous posts on this blog about practice tips will provide you with all you need to know about effective practice habits which are the key to success for all music students.
For all of those who are returning after summer break, welcome back! We can’t wait to begin working with you again and to watch your skills and abilities grow as you progress.