School is out but, before you know it, you will be return to the office in preparation for marching band. It is important to take time away and recharge the mind and body over the summer. Recharging the musical soul is just as important. Here are some ways to prepare yourself and grow musically while on summer break:
Stay Away from the Office! – Easier said than done. One summer, I worked in my office at least 3 days week. The next fall was a struggle for me personally and musically. I felt tired and burnt out quickly. It showed in my teaching and in my arranging. If you must go to the office, limit your time and stick to a basic plan. Do not get caught up in other tasks and stay longer than you need.
Get Out of Town! – This sounds like a simple idea, but it is really effective. We live, work, and spend most of our time in one location throughout the year. We become blind to our surroundings and settle into routines. Getting away for a while, even for a day, will help you recharge and escape the monotony of daily life. Go to a baseball game, find a new place to eat, or discover a hiking trail along a river. Or, attend a conducting symposium. This will allow you to be around other musicians and study your craft!
Find a quiet place. – As music educators, we deal with noise constantly. Whether it is instruments playing, voices singing, metronomes blaring, or kids talking, there is always sound. Spend time over the summer in a place of quiet. Go to the mountain or find a safe place to sit and look over the landscape to recharge. Lay out on the shore of a lake or a beach. Find a quiet room with dim lighting and just breath. The silence can do wonders for your mind and soul.
Study a New Score. – When was the list time you bought a score and just sat down to study for pleasure? Okay, maybe never, but the study of a score is important to our jobs. Find a piece that you enjoy that you most likely would not do with your ensemble. Get a recording and listen to it while looking at the score one time, then dive in with a pencil and a cup of coffee. Look for the important motives, the structure, and styles. A few suggestions would be Jonathan Newman’s Symphony No. 1: My Hands are a City, Bartok’s Concerto for Orchestra, or Percy Grainger’s Lincolnshire Posy.
Listen to Good Music. – When is the last time you heard the Chicago Symphony play Mahler? Or, heard a choral work by Eric Whitacre sung by a professional group? Take time this summer to listen to great musicians making great music. Attending a live concert is preferred since we rarely get to sit in the audience and enjoy a performance.