This is a guest post written by Aeyons violin teacher Ben Wragg.
If you’re serious about helping your child to become an excellent musician then I’m very sorry to let you know that going away for the whole summer holidays without an instrument simply isn’t an option. If your child is already on their way towards becoming an excellent musician then you’ll already know this.
But everyone needs a break sometimes so thinking about the best way to make this happen is certainly advisable. If you study at a specialist music school or are homeschooled and practice for a high number of hours per day through term time then you may feel you can take your foot off the gas a little in the holidays. If not then it’s likely that you don’t get enough practice during term time and really need to push it in the holidays. Through the year and years, this really will build up. But here are the main aspects to consider:
As always, make a plan for the entire summer and try to stick to it or else adapt in a sensible way where necessary.
How long should I take off? Ideally not over a week but it depends on many factors. Go with the rule that however long you take off you’ll need a similar length of time to get back to a similar level.
Unlike term time your days may suddenly have a lot less structure. This can mean that you end up getting less done even though you have way more time. So plan! Ideally, you already need to know when you wake up in the morning when you’re going to practice that day. Make a plan and try to stick to it.
When in the day should I practice? As long as you do the practice you may think it doesn’t matter when. But you may find that you work better at certain times or more or less split up. So this is personal. You may do it all in one go, split it up during one period of the day or split it right through the day. I would advise as a general rule to get it done earlier rather than later in the day. You may also have to be flexible depending on other factors which again isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
Lessons in the holidays? If you can manage this financially then this is of course a big advantage. The summer especially is such a long holiday that it can be a long time to wait.
So you know for example you’re going away for 2 weeks without your instrument in the middle of the holidays. Set yourself a clear goal of for instance having all your material memorised and generally fluent by the time you go away. Then you can enjoy your break without any worry. When you get back after a few days of getting back into it you can focus on more of the polishing aspect. Or if you have a large repertoire then perhaps have one concerto done before and do one after; whatever works best.