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Just like starting school after summer break, restarting music lessons after summer requires a little adjusting. Even for students who remained in lessons, practice may have lagged because of summer camp, vacations, and the well-deserved relaxation of summer.
The most important thing for parents to remember
Go easy on your student, and keep realistic expectations. They’re not going to immediately play as well as they did in May, and depending on where they left off, they may barely be able to play at all!
Know that this is okay, and completely normal. When restarting music lessons, a few sessions dedicated to reviewing and catching up will help get them back on track. “Forgetting everything” happens to everyone after a break, including teachers and performers. All they need is a little patience and practice.
Talk to your teacher
We always encourage open and honest communication with your teacher, so be sure to share any questions or concerns with restarting music lessons. With a little teamwork, the transition can be seamless.
Allow plenty of time for review and planning
Your teacher will be prepared to do a lot of reviewing of fundamentals during that first lesson back. Student and teacher will also benefit from reviewing how lessons were going before summer. What went right, and what could have gone better? Fall is a great time to talk about how to improve old strategies, and make an exciting plan for the year ahead.
Avoid jumping into a song they mastered just before summer
Doing this is a recipe for disappointment, and could get restarting music lessons off to a negative start. Unless they practiced regularly — and productively — throughout the summer, your student will feel more encouraged by learning a relatively easy song, or backtracking a few pages in their book. They need time to work back up to songs they used to play well. It’s best to start slow and review the basics like scales, sight-reading, and technical exercises.
Now is the perfect time for goal-setting, especially short-term goals
What does your student want to accomplish in the year ahead? How do they plan to get there? Setting a short-term goal, e.g. something to be achieved in three or four weeks, is a great way to fire up practice. Your student can come up with some of their own creative short-term goals, like planning a recording day or putting on a mini-concert.
Consider incorporating new musical influences
Did your student learn a new song in summer camp? Or fall in love with a new genre or artist? Summer experiences can spark creativity or a new interest that can fuel new goals. Encourage your student to share their new influences with their teacher and devise interesting ways to integrate them.
Make sure your student — and you — truly understand how to practice
This is wise advice for all music students! Get clear with your teacher on their recommendations for practice, and do your best to help your student stick to the plan. Here are some of our other articles with great advice on practicing: teaching music students how to pratice and 17 things every parent should know about music practice.
Next summer, consider a different kind of “summer break”
Many well-intentioned parents eliminate music lessons during the summer to give their student a break, but often it results in frustration and lack of confidence when fall comes around. Rather than taking the summer off, our teacher Ylva recommends creating a “summer break” by reducing practice time. For example, practicing five minutes a day instead of their usual practice time, or ten minutes every other day.
Following these suggestions will ensure a successful re-start to music lessons. Happy fall!