WHY I ENCOURAGE SUMMER MUSIC LESSONS… AND YOU SHOULD TOO!

I’m so excited that summer is here!  If Chicago wasn’t so great during the summer time, I’d just pack up and go!  But summer in Chicago means riding my bike on the boardwalk and free shows at Millennium Park!  It means countless outdoor festivals with weird Indie bands that you’ve never heard of before and sidewalk sales in Wicker Park.  So I’m staying!

This summer is a big one for my family!  In June, my baby Zeke turned 1 year old (I can hardly believe it!) and my husband, Harmony, and I  celebrated 5 years of marriage!

…Like I said, this is a big summer for us!

I’m sure you’ve got some things in the works too!  Summer vacation?  A trip to the beach?  4th of July fireworks?

In the midst of all of the plans and busyness, I’m still teaching… and I encourage students and parents to stick with music lessons.  Here’s why:

1.  Music lessons aren’t long enough or frequent enough anyway!

Unlike math or history classes at school, music lessons usually only happen 1 time a week… and only for 1/2 hour!  Since lessons happen less often than any class at school and lesson times are drastically shorter than a class period, new ideas are not being drilled into your kid’s brain with the same frequency!

Even after a long summer full of adventures, a kid might be able to remember a math function that he’s heard everyday for 2 months leading up to summer.  It’s more difficult, however, for him to remember a scale he’s tried maybe 4 times during the month of May or that new Led Zeppelin tune he was just starting to understand.

2.  The language of music needs to be spoken!

Music is a language that needs to be “spoken” in order to be retained.  Without lessons, the likelihood of your child forgetting important musical ideas is almost inevitable. It would be better for your child to maintain their current skill level by having sporadic lessons throughout the summer than to lose a good chunk of their progress leading up to summer by taking a break.

Naturally, kids forget things over the summer.  It just happens.  Between video games, lemonade stands, camp, vacation Bible school, sleepovers and swim lessons, it’s unlikely that a student will pick up their instrument “just because” (if your child is the kind of kid that would pick up their instrument “just because” then they would probably be begging to continue lessons over the summer anyway).

3.  Learning it all over again takes a looooooooong time!

This reason is related to my first point… even if, over the course of the summer, a student forgets what he learned in math class last spring, his new teacher will be able to review the forgotten information with him for as many days as are necessary (within reason).  However, if I only see your kid 4 times in the month of September for guitar lessons, there isn’t much time for review.  He’s going to feel discouraged by the backtracking necessary in order to move forward again.

This is especially true for young children.  I’ll never forget a 4 year old piano student who took a summer off.  In May, she had almost completed her lesson book and was counting on one hand the songs she had to complete before she advanced to the next level.  She took the summer off and when September rolled around… we had to go all the way back, to the first few pages of her book, and start over again.  She KNEW the book in May… REALLY!  But it was lost by September!  She hadn’t “spoken the language of music” all summer.

Realistically, your summer lesson schedule will not be as constant as it would be during the school year.  Because of your vacations and your teacher’s vacation, there will be missed weeks.  Still, it’s worthwhile to get even a few lessons in every month.

What about you or your kids?  Do you take a break from lessons?  How do other teachers feel about summer breaks?

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