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What Should Music Students Work on During Summer? [Tips for Private Lessons]

We believe that summer is the perfect time for musicians to deep dive into playing their instrument. Young musicians in school have audition pieces, concerts, and assigned music to work through, but without those constraints there are some key areas can be given a little extra attention during the summer:

1 . Technique Refinement

2. Expanding Your Repertoire

3. Theory & Ear Training

4. Performance Skills

5. Creative Projects

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Below we'll explore each of these areas of focus, and how they can help musicians make the most of their summer:


  1. Technique Refinement:

Building a solid foundation is key to every musician's success. Summer is a great time to take things slow and focus on the small details, whether it's finger placement, breath control, bowing methods, or simple scales. Communicate specific technical goals with your teacher.


  • Record your practice session and watch the next day to see what went well and what didn't

  • Use a metronome when you want to slow something down to make sure you don't rush through it

  • Set specific goals for each lesson and journal about it afterward


2. Expanding Your Repertoire:

During the school year young musicians can begin to feel uninspired by the music they're being assigned, can develop an itch to try something new, or might want to learn to play something they've been listening to, but can't find the time to explore. Summer is the perfect time to try different genres, music by different composers, or try playing along to a popular song. Let your teacher know if exploring new things that challenge your current skills sounds fun!


  • Start with something similar to your current skill level, and gradually increase the difficulty of pieces

  • Try mixing up music from different time periods to keep things fresh

  • Play the new pieces you learn for friends and family members to boost your confidence


3. Theory & Ear Training

Wouldn't it be great to go into next school year with a better understanding of how music actually works? Spending some time on music theory and training your ear to recognize things like scales, chord progressions, and intervals helps to build skills like improvisation, musical comprehension, and gives you a deeper connection to ALL music.


  • Add one small theory exercise to every practice session and share with your teacher what you've learned each week. Explaining to someone else is an easy way to help you remember concepts, and your instructor can double check your understanding

  • Play around with the theoretical concepts you're learning on your instrument. Once you can see a theory in action it's easier to associate the concept with a real world example


4. Performance Skills:

Stage fright, posture, stage presence, and more are all learned skills. The buzz around concert season, the pressure to do well, and the weight of dozens of eyes on you during a performance can be hard for many players. Build this muscle over the summer by talking about what it's like with your teacher, and working on ways to feel more comfortable while performing.


  • Play your instrument in informal settings like family gatherings, outings with friends, or at community events. Practice makes progress.

  • Play pieces all the way through without stopping to correct mistakes. Acknowledge what went well, and what needs work afterward, but focus on being in the present moment while playing.


5. Creative Projects:

Ever wondered what it's like to compose an original piece? Want to try improvising your way through a section of music? Have you ever considered creating a new arrangement of an existing piece? Summer is a great time to get creative! Collaborate with your teacher to make these daydreams a reality.


  • Set aside at least one time each week for creative exploration

  • Share your creative projects with your teacher, and ask for feedback

  • Find your unique voice as a player. Lean into what brings you joy


Embrace summertime for the freedom it offers. You get to decide what's important to you and the seeds you plant today become the flowers of your musical career in the future.

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