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  • by Mary Barton

Summer - As Good As Practice!

Updated: Dec 26, 2019

Finally! Blue skies, green grass and trees with leaves (unlike the bare, bleak branches of winter!) Fresh air. Flowers. Open windows. Walks, bike rides, lazy days at the beach. Barbeques, garden parties, road trips. Balmy evenings with light stretching late into the evening. Who can resist summer?

For most Winnipeggers and Manitobans, its arrival basically means making a beeline for the front door and returning only to sleep! Well, okay, an exaggeration, but you get the picture. We spend six to eighth months cooped up and waiting to enjoy the outdoors without having to put on twenty pounds of insulation, and when we can finally go outside without a sweater, no one wants to go back in, not even to play piano! Regularly scheduled activities welcome during the school year come to an abrupt halt as routine is abandoned for a solar recharge, as it were!

Even our music learning seems to need this recharge!

It may seem counterintuitive, but sometimes the best thing we can do for our piano learning is to take a well-deserved break. I remember when I first started learning as an adult, I worried that not having lessons in the summer and not practicing much, or at all, in the summer, would set me back and I would have to relearn everything, or that I would lose some of the ground I had gained.

Surprisingly, though, I found just the opposite! The break in the summer and just enjoying life and all that sunshine was actually what my brain needed to process all the music learning I’d crammed into it during the academic year. I even found that music pieces or technical exercises I had been struggling with before the summer break were suddenly much easier to play when I returned to piano in the fall! It’s like the brain worked out those kinks for me during the rest. And while some repertoire might require a bit of review after the summer, I find that it comes back very quickly.

This isn’t to say that one can’t or shouldn’t take lessons or practice in the summer; for some people, summer is a great time to give lessons a try or catch up on practice. But if you’re inclined to take a break, it’s fine to do so! At some point, we all need a break – maybe summer isn’t that time for you, but whenever it is, it’s okay.

So, enjoy your summer without guilt! If you have diligently practiced during the academic year, there will be lots for your brain to organize, store into long-term memory and fine-tune as it were, during the break. And you’ll look forward to fall and warming those keys once again with your fingers!

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