The school year is winding down, and many kids will be taking a break from their regularly scheduled activities for family vacation and some down time. Parents also want a break—a break from paying for lessons and making budding young musicians keep up with practice time. But is taking the summer off really the best choice?

You Snooze, You Lose

Summer is a great time to change up your child’s schedule, build in some extra down time, and enjoy a long-awaited family vacation. But taking two or three months off of music lessons can have some serious consequences for students:

  1. Loss of Momentum—When you get into a routine of practicing and evaluation, you build up some momentum that energizes your learning. You get excited about conquering new skills and reaching milestones. Taking the summer off brings that momentum to a screeching halt, and the teacher often has to spend several weeks in the fall getting the student back on track.
  2. Loss of Muscle Memory—Music lessons involve more than just mental knowledge. They also require training your child’s fine motor skills to perform certain tasks automatically. When the student stops practicing for several months, that muscle memory must be regained.
  3. Loss of Skill—Every music student has experienced the thrill of accomplishment when he or she masters a particularly difficult passage. But you can’t expect to maintain the skill needed to perform difficult pieces when you don’t practice for months at a time. Come fall, the student may have to relearn many of the things he or she mastered before.

As you can see, it’s not just the months of missed lessons that students lose during the summer; it’s also the time that must be spent relearning the things they forgot or the skills they lost. That could mean several weeks more of lost time in which students must repeat things they’ve already studied.

A Family-Friendly Lesson Solution

Of course, families want the flexibility to take vacations in the summer and alter schedules so they can do all the things they’ve been waiting to do all year long. Music lessons shouldn’t be a drain on your summer activity, and with a little planning, they won’t be:

  1. Ask your child’s teacher how he or she handles vacations. Find out if missed lessons can be made up and how flexible the teacher’s schedule is.
  2. Ask about scheduling longer lessons to make up for any lessons that must be missed (for example, a 1 hour lesson instead of 30 minutes to make up for the lesson you miss while on vacation).
  3. Consider group lessons or a student orchestra to give your young student some additional interaction with peers while keeping up his or her skills.
  4. Find ways to make it fun! Ask the teacher to include some pop music or special clinics to rekindle your child’s musical interest. Build a special activity into the schedule on lesson day to provide incentive for your child, or offer rewards for consistent practice time.

Summer can be a great time to build skill, focus on some of the fun aspects of musical training, and be ready to hit the ground running again in the fall. Keep up the good work, and don’t let summer mean the loss of everything your child has learned over the course of the year!

This is a TBMA original article written for our Tampa Bay Music Academy readership by Susan McClure.  If you find it to be helpful, we would love for you to re-post it on your blog.  Please contact us first for permission.  Visit our website home for information on finding a music teacher in Tampa, Odessa, Land O’ Lakes, Citrus Park, Westchase, New Port Richey, Lutz, Trinity, Keystone, or Tarpon Springs Florida who offers private piano lessons, guitar lessons, saxophone lessons, voice lessons, or music lessons in any other instrument proficiency category.  TBMA teachers (piano, guitar, voice, woodwinds, brass, strings, percussion) pride themselves in a reputation for an uncompromising commitment to excellence and special care taken for every student. We remain absolutely committed to providing an outstanding enrollment experience beyond any other in the region.  Call us today.  We look forward to hearing from you!