by Dr. Klondike Steadman
This week our daughter spent two days in Houston (with us), went swimming nearly every day, saw a movie, watched several videos, played at friends house’s and still managed to get bored at home for stretches at a time. Last week was full-day camps. Next week is a half-day camp. Then we’re off to visit family in California…and so on and so forth. Just your typical summer.
Nevertheless, this has been, without question, the greatest period of musical growth for Mei Yin (our daughter) since she began guitar a year and a half ago. And this is true for every single one of my students as well. It is a very different kind of growth than we experience during the school year, that’s for sure. It is more in leaps and fits and spurts–music camps and intensive lessons followed by recitals and Musical Journey Levels followed by vacations and near-zero practice. Then some other big goals. Then some just playing for fun. It all mixes together in a very unpredictable way that winds up being just as productive, if not more so, than the 45 minutes a day that I expect of my students during the year.
One thing so special about the summer is the opportunity to really dig in and concentrate on music in a way that is never possible when homework and tests are looming over our heads. During these periods of intense focus, my students have all reported practicing like never before and find themselves reaching heights that would have been unimaginable just a few months or even weeks before. I think of it sort of like climbing a high tree along the path and getting a view of what might be possible down the road. But in order for the students to have the energy and inspiration for this kind of work, they need to have laid the foundation during the year of regular practice so that they have the basic skills, knowing they can work things out and, most of all, understanding enough about music to truly believe this is a worthwhile way to spend their time. This is the way I spent most of my own summers and I can remember longing for summer to start so that I wouldn’t have all that ridiculous busy-work of school and could get down to some serious practice or attend some exciting music camp.
So if you have a crazy summer like us, welcome to the club. Just dive in and enjoy the dance and make sure at least a few of those weeks are crazy for music!