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Master Hand Violin Shop

  • 546 S Main W Street
  • Broadway, VA 22815
  • 630/ 292-2641

    Store Hours

  • By Appointment Only
  • Owner

    Elizabeth Ecklund

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    "But I Don't Want to Practice - It's Summer and I Like TV!"

    By Diane Bruce

    Summer is always a challenging time for us at Master Hand Violin Shop. As soon as the final concert of the school year is done, instruments come back to our shop at an accelerated pace. Some of these are from people who are quitting, but many are from students who plan to resume playing in the fall. Understandably, we are saddened at the loss of rental income and having to locate a place to store these instruments, but mostly we are disappointed that students who have so much promise are going to spend the summer forgetting what they know instead of improving. And of course, we will face the dilemma of what to say to parents who tell us that there is no point to practicing over the summer, and that there is nothing they can do to inspire their kids to practice.

    Why practice? Of course, your child wants (and needs) a break. But while it might be good to take a week or two off mid summer, it is not good to take the whole summer off. By the end of the school year, your child is learning new fingerings, playing techniques, and other skills. None of these have become muscle memory yet, and breaking for months will cause your child to have to relearn all these skills that were already largely learned. This will make the fall frustrating and the spring a waste of time. Whereas, playing over the summer will not only cement the new skills, but your child can advance even further. And (thankfully) there will be many students playing over the summer, so if your child doesn't practice, your child will fall behind. If your child is competitive, you may want to remind him or her that other kids will get ahead.

    It's hard to practice over the summer. Your child thinks that summers are for relaxing, and you might also want a respite from the practicing wars. Well, we do have a few suggestions for summer practicing, and most of them revolve around making your child forget that practicing is not relaxing. First of all, we encourage your child to practice first thing in the morning. You can tell him that once he has practiced, he has the whole day to play video games. The structure will help get the practicing done and the early morning will make him feel like he still has all day to relax. Morning practicing is a surprisingly successful technique. You can also get your child together with other students who play, and they can practice duets/trios/etc. Children almost invariably find playing with other children more fun than playing alone, and they frequently altogether fail to notice that they are practicing.

    Another barrier to summer practicing can be a lack of teacher. Perhaps you don't have a private teacher or perhaps your teacher might have planned a trip to Bermuda to get away from his students. Either way, you can't give your child the weekly accountability of lessons; there is no one to teach your child new skills and no new music to practice. If you are lucky enough to be in a school district that still offers summer orchestra, you can sign your child up with the school. If your child wants something more exciting than lessons at the school, you can sign him up for summer music camp. There are many camps around the country that offer varying intensities of summer music programs. Some are for beginners and others are highly competitive.

    At the end of the day, unfortunately practicing is still practicing, and it's work. But if you want to get the most out of your school year practicing, you need to continue over the summer. And if you want to be first chair, you need to continue over the summer. So if you can find something that works for your child, everyone will be a lot better off.

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