This time of year can be a difficult time for all of us musicians. Many of us are just burned out, either from your school year in the secondary school system, or you have done so many performances that you want a break. I know exactly how I'd like to spend my summer right now, and it looks something like this:
The only thing missing in that picture is what exactly is on the television. In my household, it probably would be a Cubs baseball game, because it's very easy to fall asleep when the Cubs are losing by 4.... after one inning... Wait 'til next year!
At any rate, summertime practicing is critical, not only for maintaining, but improving on skills. Think about practicing from this standpoint:
For Most of us, There is NO ASSIGNMENTS! You can practice ANYTHING!
As you start to figure out exactly what to do with your summer, I tend to keep a few things in mind:
We have a lot of choices to make right now. There are two main questions I always ask myself, especially this time of year:
How Great Do You Want To Be?
What Are You Willing To Give Up In Order To Get What You Want?
For me, I want to be great, but I also don't want to give up on having balance in my lifetime in the summer. I love the outdoors, I want to spend time with my friends, and I want to be a "normal" person for a bit. For those of you who know me, I'm not sure "normal" is a word you'd use to describe me, but...
For me, practicing happens every day. Yes, that's right, every day, I'm going to practice this summer. I usually attempt to get a good amount of my practicing in the mornings. I know for some of you, this is when you are sleeping off that marathon of Call of Duty, but remember those questions from above. How Great Do You Want To Be?
If I am going to go on vacation, which I have planned a couple of already, I will still at least practice some basics on my mouthpiece every day. Whether I'm buzzing tunes, or working on using less resistance to buzz, I'm going to practice every day. A mouthpiece takes up little space in your luggage, so take it with you. If you want to be great, you have to work at it, every day.
If you're not going anywhere this summer, this is a great time for you to start taking some private lessons. There are many wonderful teachers that are willing to help, so find one, and have some fun!
Andrew Smith currently serves as the Director of Athletic Bands at and Assistant Professor of Low Brass at Campbell University and is Principal Tuba of the Fayetteville Symphony. Andrew also maintains a low brass teaching studio in the Triangle region of North Carolina.