9 Ways to Practice More This Summer

Helpful tips to keep your chops up during the summer months.

Girl playing flute

Summer is here, and with classes out, it can be easy for student musicians to lose a lot of the progress they made throughout the year. The good news? That loss of progress is 100% preventable through regular practice!

We know it can be difficult to keep up with a regular practice regime during the summer, but trust us, it’s worth it. Practicing over the summer helps you retain and build on your musical knowledge, keeps your skills honed, and gives you a serious head start when you get back to class in the fall. It really is a struggle when a student doesn’t play at all for the three months over the summer and has to relearn a lot of the basic skill sets when school starts back up. It can be normal, however, to not play as much over the summer than a student would have normally during the academic year. The important thing to remember is to at least play some, maybe a few minutes a day, to retain “chops.” This lack of playing is commonly referred to as “summer chops” once school (and heavier playing times) resume again in the fall.

Here are some tips to help you keep practicing a priority during the summer months:

1) Keep your instrument at hand.

Don’t stick it in a closet or under the bed, keep it where you’ll see it and be reminded to practice. The second part of this is to keep your instrument out and safely on an instrument stand. Studies have shown that students are more willing to practice if they don’t have to take their instrument out from the case every time. The case itself represents a psychological barrier, and if you see it sitting there ready to be played (mostly), you’ll be more likely to sit down and play a few notes.

Pro tip: Keep your instrument on a stand or on a wall hanger out of the way, but visible. It still needs to be in a safe location, but visible to easily grab. Ask us about instrument stands and hangers!

2) Try out new music!

Summer is the perfect time to get some fun sheet music to spice up your practice routine. Try practicing the soundtrack to your favorite movie, a collection of pop songs, or even some good ol’ Disney favorites.

Pro tip: give us a call, we can special order almost any sheet music you want! We also have a good selection of easy to intermediate books full of fun music already in stock!

3) See some live music.

Nothing will inspire you to go home and practice more than seeing professional musicians crushing it on stage! Seriously, even well-established musicians (like most of us here at Windsmith) will see a famous or well-known musician play live, and almost every time we tell ourselves, “man, I got to go home and practice. I want to sound that good!”

4) Take summer lessons.

Keep yourself accountable and learning new skills by teaming up with a local music teacher for the summer. Use our online referral list to find a teacher.

5) Get a practice buddy.

Practice with a friend to keep yourself accountable. Bet one of your classmates that you’ll practice X hours per week and hold each other to it! You’ll both be vying for first chair in September.

6) Upgrade your accessories.

Something as simple as a new neck strap or higher quality rosin can boost your playing experience and spark renewed interest to practice. Even upgrading a mouthpiece (or even a brand-new instrument!) will really inspire students to get more practice time in.

7) Make it part of your routine.

This is good advice to follow year-round, but especially in summer. It can help to have dedicated time blocked out for practicing each day.

8) Have fun with it!

If you think of practicing as a chore, it’ll feel like one. Instead, keep it fun and focus on playing music you enjoy along with pieces that challenge you. It can be really boring paying the same thing over and over, so spice it up by playing something new or in a different order.

9) Take your music with you on vacation.

We know, it’s summer and you and your family will go on vacation. However, that is not necessarily an excuse to leave everything at home. While away, you can take a mouthpiece, your music, drum sticks, or anything else that’s small to keep up your chops over the summer. While idling in a hotel room or at a relative’s house, you can practice breathing, sing along with songs, go through music and make notations, or play your mouthpiece. Maybe you can take your whole instrument with you. You never know!

The Takeaways

Keep your instrument where you can easily access it. Pick some new and fun music to keep yourself entertained. Play with friends and challenge yourself, as well as your fellow classmates. Go out and see some live music to get inspired. Try and get in a routine going for regular practice sessions. When on vacation, you can still practice, even if you don’t play your instrument completely. The point here is to maintain what you have learned from the school year, and to try and prevent the dreaded “summer chops” when fall comes around.

Pro tip for rental customers: Our rent-to-own program is designed for your student to keep playing over the summer! With rental payments, equity is being built to purchase an instrument. If you return it, you lose the equity and have to start over the next school year.