For musicians on an academic schedule, summers are often wide open. This can be a great opportunity to get ahead, or a bottomless pit of procrastination and idleness. Here are some ideas for staying motivated to get some summer practicing done.
Create a routine. When your calendar is wide open, it’s easy to sleep in late, while away the morning and afternoon, and feel guilty all day. Plan a time and place for your daily practicing, and stick to it most days. While you’re at it, you might as well plan in some exercise, summer reading, household projects, or other things that will make you feel good about yourself and your summer. But leave yourself some unstructured time, too.
Make goals, but be reasonable. An ambitious plan to practice hard all day every day looks good on paper, but may not be sustainable. Putting too many things on your list can be discouraging. Make a long list if you like, but then pick out a few that are the most important. Even if you have the willpower to push yourself hard all summer long, try focusing on fewer things. Give yourself permission to recharge, catch up on some sleep, and be ready to start a new semester in the fall.
Include something fun. Your summer practice plans should include some “vegetables” like long tones, scales, and technical études. But also give yourself something to work on that you’re excited about. That might be an exciting repertoire piece, a jazz playalong, or some other guilty pleasure. If you’re interested in woodwind doubling, the summers can also be a great chance to work on a fun new/secondary instrument.
Practice smart and rest up for August!