How to find your way back to practicing after a crazy summer

Here comes September.

Are you getting ready to settle down after a busy summer? I know I am. I’ve had some great opportunities to travel, some of it for music, some of it for teaching, and some of it just for me. All in all it’s meant frequent upheavals in my routine, so much that I hardly remember what it is I normally do during the rest of the year on, say, a Tuesday. Sound familiar?

The days are getting shorter, though. Some of you (or your kids) are getting ready to return to school. The volunteer pumpkin growing out of my compost pile (I have no idea how it got there!) is growing large and starting to think about orange. Are we a little run ragged from our summer adventures? Is it time to buckle down into a routine?

Let’s be honest here about what I’m really getting at: has your practicing–or even your music-making in general–fallen by the wayside this summer?

Yes, well, it happens to the best of us.

Try any or all of these ideas that appeal to you or seem manageable:

    • Take a class – Well, you knew that was coming, but you have to admit it’s a great idea. Community, accountability, and new information dosed out in manageable bits. Check the menu at the top of this page to see what classes I’ve got coming up for you.


    • Get a CD or three from the library – What’s on your “to look up someday” list? Names you’ve heard, genres that intrigue you? Jazz, Cajun, Norwegian, Quebecois, 20th-century classical, Gypsy/Roma, indie rock?


    • If you don’t know where to start, pick a name from this list that you don’t know, or whose music you haven’t spent much time with, and stick your toes in the water: Kenny Baker, Stephane Grappelli, Andrew Bird, Vassar Clements, Mark O’Connor, Nickel Creek, Kevin Burke, Natalie Macmaster, Laurie Lewis, Byron Berline, Joe Venutti, Doug Kershaw, Lisa Germano, Alison Krauss’ earlier stuff.


    • Go see some live music! Any genre or instrumentation has the potential to inspire you to get going again, butĀ of course if there’s a fiddler/violinist in the band that’s especially great.


    • Make a list of things that would be fun to learn sometime, even if they are the “wrong” genre or seem totally out of reach to you now. (My list right now includes the Sibelius violin concerto and the guitar instrumental “Flatland”.)


    • Pull that book off the shelf and put it on the music stand. If you’re like a lot of us, you have some books that seemed really exciting when you bought them, but you haven’t really gotten around to doing much with them. Pick one and get to know it. What’s in it? Sightread some tunes.


    • Get out those voice memo recordings from any camps or workshops you went to this year, last year, five years ago. Yes, I do that too. Find what’s useful, delete the rest.


    • Revisit songs you learned a long time ago and don’t really remember how they go anymore. You’ll find relearning is a different experience than learning them in the first place.


  • Make a date to play music with a friend. It’s okay if you’re both nervous!


You might also like:

How to practice when you don’t have time.

How to practice (without freaking out or getting bored).

Why being an adult learner is awesome.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *