Top 10 Ways to Improve Your Performance Skills This Summer

How can summer break make you a better musician?

by Mary Galime

1.  Take a week off

After a long year of performances, lessons, study, and practice, your brain and body need a break! Or if you have extra time to practice this summer, experiment with three heavy days of practice, and one off. While not always possible during the year, this is a great way to build strength, and balance that with time to rebuild.

2. Summer Concert

Take advantage of all the summer concerts and shows that happen at festivals over the summer. Most of them might be happening virtually this year, but all that means is you can attend from the comfort of your comfy chair at home, backyard, or local park... you decide! Listen to new styles and types of music. Search out new performance experiences.  Even if you don’t enjoy the style of music, experiencing other professionals’ styles of performing may give you some inspiration towards what you would like to change about your own stage presence, or warn  you of what you never want to do!

3. Get to know your community musicians 

Community groups are a great way to do this, but if they are not in session this summer, what can you do? There are a lot of great ways to tap into the community online though. There are some great FaceBook groups and online music communities out there to join. Here are two that we have been enjoying:

Jam of the Week
Positive Trumpeters Worldwide

4. Experiment with New Equipment

Summer is a great time to find new mouthpieces. You may not be ready to switch mouthpieces right now, but it is important to know what options you have, especially for during the year when you don’t have the time to search. A great resource to assist you with this is the Denis Wick App. Download, and start your search with product info, articles, and videos, to help you understand how to determine what options will be most useful to you.

5. Take Some Lessons with a New Teacher

It does not matter your age or level of musicianship, we all can use a second opinion. Find a teacher, or connect with other professionals in your area to catch a quick lesson, or play duets. 

6. Try Teaching a Lesson

Depending on what you are comfortable teaching, try it out. Having to think of new ways to explain a basic concept is a great help in improving your understanding as well. Think you know it all? Try teaching and you will be surprised how many aspects of your playing that seemed so familiar suddenly reveal themselves in a new way.

7. Get in Good Physical Shape 

The weather is good, so get outside and get moving! The healthier you breath and the stronger you are able to support, the better you will perform.

8. Research your Future

Take some time while you are on the beach or out for a long bike ride to contemplate your next step in your pursuit of music performance. Is it college? Post College? Is there a new form or music technique that sparked your interest at one of the music festivals you attended this summer? Take the time to daydream over this, and then make sure to take the time and research the avenues that might lead to the next steps. Who might you want to talk to? What course work may you want to add to your future? 

Because I am a daydreamer and get inspirations at the most inconvenient times, I invested in a refillable day planner so I could leave one section for daily tasks and ideas (these eventually get torn out and disposed of). The ideas that turn into long term goals that I want to pursue get moved to an “archive” section in my planner, that I can easily find, add to, and follow up with. 

9. Keep your Vitals Protected!

Make sure to find a good lip moisturizer with sunscreen to avoid unnecessary damage to your lips!

10. Practice

Though this goes without saying… Practice will always be the most important factor to your growth as a musician. However, you may want to take a second and define what practice means for your summer vacation. For me, my goal is to get a really good warm up every day. Since my warm up, at its longest, takes 15 minutes, for my summer motivation (which is sometimes minimal),  this is a very attainable goal. I also keep a couple of my favorite solos/etude books on the stand in front of me so that during my warm-up, at some point I may feel the motivation to play some more. I would say this strategy works for 90% of my practice during the summer. For you, you may want to set some specific goals that you will hit every day. For many of us, summer is a time where we have a little more flexibility in how we approach our daily tasks, so take advantage of this and define what that will mean for you.

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