Should You Take a Summer Break?

We’re deep into summer now, and with vaccinations on the rise, it seems like many are trying to make up for all the time (and fun) lost over the COVID summer of 2020.

If you’re struggling to decide between taking some time off to enjoy vacations/friends/family or keeping your nose to the grindstone and try to make up for lost progress/opportunities, you’re not alone.

If you want a break, though, my advice is to take it – and take it now!

Why You May Want A Break

We’ve all been through a difficult time with COVID. While the heaviest working burden fell on relatively small number of essential workers, everyone has had to change their life (and their work) since last March.

Speaking as a musician, many performance were cancelled this past year. While some of those performances will not be made up, I have a feeling that many groups are going to try and have larger, more celebratory events in the Fall (or Spring) to try and make up for the time apart.

I expect similar things will probably happen at schools. Extracurricular activities that were cancelled or restrained last year will likely be returning in full-force in the Fall. For many band students, that means a return to marching band in late July or early August. Additionally, honor bands, All-State/All-District competitions, and Solo and Ensemble are likely to return closer to “normal” this year than last.

And that’s why you need to take your break now.

Looking Ahead

If you take your break now, as I write this (in late June, 2021) you can put your horn away for a few weeks, have some fun, and be ready to get back to work sometime mid-July. You’ll be rested, motivated and you’ll still have time to get back in shape before band camp begins.

On the other hand, if you do what I see many of my students do, they will only practice 1-2 times per week. Even practicing 1 or 2 hours a day, practicing this infrequently will not lead to progress – only frustration. Which means they are getting the worst of both worlds – no forward progress and they don’t feel like they are getting a break.

Of course, if you’re taking lessons over the summer, you shouldn’t take a break (at least for the weeks that you have lessons). But, if you’re going out of town for a week or few, maybe make sure you give yourself sometime away from your instrument. You may be surprised how much it helps!