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Tips & Tricks: Summertime – What Now?

fernI wrapped up all of my private teaching last week for the school year, so now both my students and I have a well-deserved break. I am a great believer in taking a break from the routine and feel that we all need a change every now and then.

Sometimes a break can be a really good thing for your playing. I find that if you have been struggling with something, stepping back and not working at it can actually help. If you are overthinking, sometimes you get in your own way. I know that I have had students come back after a break being able to do certain techniques better, and I know that I have seen it in my own playing as well.

As a child I am sure that I did not practice scales and studies through the summer, but I also don’t remember putting my violin in its case and not opening it again until the next fall. I am lucky enough to come from a musical family and had both a father and brother who played the violin, so was surrounded by others who loved and played music.

So, here is my suggestion for the summer. Take that break. Give yourself some time off, but here are some suggestions for getting your instrument back out again:

1. Play through the repertoire that you really enjoyed.
2. Perform for visiting family members.
3. Find a jam so you can play with others.
4. Buy a book and try to figure out some tunes on your own. Unless you are advanced enough to understand key signatures (the sharps and flats at the beginning of the piece), you are probably best to stick with key signatures that you have done in your lessons.
5. Try to figure out how to play songs that you like by ear. You can play the songs you hear on the radio on your violin, so it doesn’t have to be music specifically for the violin.

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