May 19th, 2010 1:47 pm

The school year is winding down here in Texas, and you can already see the kids beginning to relax. There is talk of swimming pools, vacations, and summer camps. Homework is becoming slightly less important to kids, although their parents and teachers haven’t realized that yet, and still expect it to be completed.

Believe it or not, this is an extremely important time of year for music students!

As we slip into Summer, many students will set their instruments aside to be picked up again the first day of school. This is tragedy enough, but it’s even worse if the student ends the school year with bad habits coming to the fore.

The way we finish this school year is probably the way we will start next school year!

If your posture or position is bad, it will probably be worse when September rolls around. If practice habits are poor now, good habits will be harder than ever to re-establish. If accessories or sheet music are not available as the year ends, they’ll just have to be purchased this Fall, delaying the start of practice for another week or ten days.

My message for you is – Finish Strong!

Now is the time to make sure that you have everything that you need now, because the need won’t go away over the Summer. Now is the time to touch up your posture, you’ll remember the right way to stand, sit, or hold the instrument better if you’re doing things right when school ends. From now until the school year ends you should play a lot! Add fifteen minutes to each practice. Stretch yourself by learning that one additional etude. Play something you really like every single day. Make sure that you remember that when you play your violin (viola, cello, trombone…whatever!) you actually have fun!

Now is the time to make sure that you have a friend or two who will be playing their instrument over the Summer. You can play chamber music. You can get together to jam. You can even just play some of the pieces that you enjoyed from orchestra or band this year. Now is the time to look into Mark O’Connor’s Fiddle Camp or Mark Wood’s Rock Orchestra Camp or any of the dozens of great opportunities to play and have fun that occur over the Summer months. You’ll learn a lot while getting to meet some pretty incredible musicians! Now is the time to realize that playing your instrument is not just a chore, it is a part of your life! It makes you smile and feel good about the things you can do that you never expected.

Finish the school year strong. It will make starting next school year (or maybe even this Summer’s music program) a whole lot easier.

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