Do you find yourself slipping into the abyss of “No Practice World” during breaks from school? Breaks are the perfect time to refine your musicianship and lay foundations that are somewhat harder to do when you are faced with the time constraints that school often imposes. Here are five easy ways to stay in shape during a break from school:
1. Social media – Yes, social media can help you be a better musician! Stay in the loop with what’s going on in the music world by picking a new musician, ensemble, or music school to follow on social media each week.
2. Song of the week – pick a song from the radio, or your iPod each week that you really enjoy and learn to play it by ear. (Non-classical music works best for this exercise.)
3. Step back on sight-reading – take a step back with sight-reading by reading short examples that are much easier than what you normally sight-read in lessons, ensembles, etc. This is a great way to build trust in your sight-reading abilities. Gradually increase difficulty level as the break goes on – but only as difficult as you can play and still be relaxed.
4. Listening – explore unfamiliar pieces in order to familiarize yourself with repertoire (for your instrument/voice type, and other instrument/voice types) that you haven’t learned, or don’t know well. Listen to the piece over and over again, until you can sing along with the recording.
5. Scale of the week – pick one scale each week and practice only that scale for the entire week. Don’t let this be boring or monotonous! Refer to my earlier post on scales for ways to keep scale practice fresh and an exciting challenge.
CALL TO ACTION: Make a brief outline of what specifically you would do for each of these steps for the first week of your break - which scale you will work on, the song you will learn, one or two sight-reading examples, which piece you will explore, who you will follow this week on social media and the platform on which you will follow them (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc.).