Many families view music lessons as an extension of the school calendar, and as a result, they expect to take the summer off from lessons or classes. But is this a good idea? Will your child retain everything they have learned? We’ll discuss some of the challenges with 2-3 months of off-time below.
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Do Summer Breaks Hurt Music Lesson Progress?
Yes, taking the summer off from music lessons will hurt progress. Your child won’t forget everything he or she has learned, and you can reclaim the forgotten skills, but you will be starting from behind. This doesn’t mean that you should feel guilty about taking vacations or necessary breaks. And budgetary constraints are a real thing. But if you can keep your child involved in music (in some form or another) over the summer, they will thank you later.
School Takes Learning Attrition Into Consideration
In our two-semester educational calendar in the US, students receive a lengthy summer break. Unless parents make their kids refresh their knowledge with books and online courses, students will, of course, forget a good bit of what they learned the previous school year.
Because of that, curriculums circle back to concepts covered in the previous semester. For instance, an Algebra II instructor will revisit the concept of equations with variables on both sides before continuing with polynomial division.
So how does that apply to your music lessons? If your children take their final music lesson for the semester on May 20, then don’t start again until September 1, they will need to revisit many note reading, music theory, and technical concepts they had been practicing. This could take 2-3 months of review before they make progress again.
It’s especially tricky in music because the application of the knowledge is the hardest part. Knowing the notes doesn’t matter if you don’t practice playing them on a keyboard every day.
Momentum Matters in Music
Once you have ingrained a ritual around music (taking a weekly lesson and practicing for 20 minutes per day, for instance), you will see exponential growth at your instrument. Remove that ritual, and you will no longer see progress. It’s like learning a language, in that a few minutes every day is much more valuable than large chunks of learning split up throughout the course of a month.
Developing the discipline to practice and learn consistently takes time, but it only takes one week off to completely lose your momentum and desire to practice. It’s the same for athletes, powerlifters, people learning web development, and more.
By taking the summer off from music, you’ll be losing more than the knowledge of some musical concepts – you’ll be losing momentum.
Progress Breeds Motivation in Music
Children will probably not grasp the concept of a “long game” in music. They know you send them to lessons and make them practice, but it’s hard for a child to internalize the fact that it will take months or years of discipline to play music at an advanced level.
That said, it’s wonderful when young students have a breakthrough – for instance, playing their first hands-together piece of piano music, or playing bass in a real rock band. This motivates them to keep practicing without you even needing to tell them to!
When they miss a summer of lessons, they will lose that spark. They may be frustrated by the fact that they can no longer do what they were doing the previous spring, and it will be harder to practice and stay motivated.
So What Can You Do About It?
Soundcheck Rock Academy offers fun summer camps that can help your children keep momentum over the summer. It’s a change of pace, they’ll make new friends, and they’ll continue learning – the perfect combination of fun and education.
If you must take a break from lessons though, we can help you find material for your child over the break. They can practice and participate in self-guided learning, and we are always happy to pick up where we left off.
For questions, or if you’d like to enroll in our music lesson programs, please get in touch!