Tuesday, June 18, 2013

How to Keep Your Children Playing Musical Instruments During the Summer

By Marty Wimmer, Classical 94.5 WNED program host and band director at Cayuga Heights Elementary School

If your children play musical instruments in the school band or orchestra, they have plenty of opportunities to play their instruments during the school year - lessons, rehearsals, concerts, etc.  But what happens during the summer? Do your children stop playing their instruments altogether? Many do. They simply resume playing when the next school year begins. Sadly, a summer hiatus leads to major losses in music literacy and playing technique. It takes the first six weeks of school just to regain what was lost over the summer. So what can you do about it? How can you keep your youngsters playing their instruments during the summer? I posed this question to a large group of band directors and my colleagues at school. Here is our advice:

#1.  Make sure your children have instruments to play over the summer. Many rental instruments must be returned at the end of the school year. Summer rental extensions may be available. Obviously, your children need instruments in order to play.
#2.  Have your children find duet or trio partners to play with over the summer. It’s best to choose partners who play the same instrument due to instrumental transpositions.  (Ask the teacher if you don’t know what this means.) Even if they only get together a few times, it's better than not playing at all. To make this work, purchase one or two easy duet and trio books for your children and their partners to use. Do not purchase anything difficult. It will be challenging enough just to stay together as a duet or trio. Difficult music will make this almost impossible without a teacher there to help.
#3.  Purchase your children easy books of favorite movie tunes or other familiar music. Kids find this kind of music fun to play.
#4.  Have your children play music for services at your house of worship. Many choirs take the summer off. It would be a great gift for your children to “offer-up” their talents in this way - and the congregation would love it!
#5.  If your children are in high school, they might want to play with a local community band or orchestra or volunteer to play at a nursing home, hospital or other facility.
#6.  Ask your children’s directors if they know of local opportunities for children to play music. Maybe they arrange for summer playing opportunities right at the school.
#7. Attend concerts. There are many fun, free outdoor band concerts over the summer that are often connected with fun events! Go enjoy them!
#8. Investigate online websites that may help your children maintain their musical skills. Many teachers use Smartmusic.com, Edmondo.com, Glogster.com and Garageband.com.
Summer is a great time for your children to enjoy just playing music. Let it be light and breezy. It's all good as long as they keep playing!

1 comment:

  1. Another brilliant Marty Wimmer blog! ;)