6 Ways Music Students Can Maximize Summer Break

I can’t believe I’m already two weeks into my summer break! It’s quite depressing.

As I lie here with my parent’s cat, Boris, on a cot in my old bedroom, I am choosing not to feel guilty about the fact that I haven’t done a vocal warmup since finals week. To be fair, I still am recovering from a bad cold, so, yeah.

As Boris and I were lounging away this lazy Saturday afternoon, I starting thinking about my fellow music students. It reminds me of how James penned the opening of his book in the Bible: “...to the believers who are scattered abroad. Greetings.”

I’m not as eloquent as James, but I have some thoughts about how we music students can avoid wasting our summer.* Seriously, it’ll be over before we know it.

*Yes, you should know I’m an authority on this subject, as I lay here with my Macbook perched on the chub of my summer belly and my room looking like I’ve reverted to middle school hygienic standards.

1. Vegetate.

Yes, you should spend some time relaxing. Music school is rigorous, and you need some downtime before hitting a crazy fall course load. Get a massage. Go to the beach. Explore places in your city you’ve never been to.

Get some good alone time! Call up old friends and get coffee with them. Spend quality time with your family. Connect with your grandparents. Have a movie marathon with your little siblings.

2. Practice!

Heh. I don’t even want to know what my voice sounds like right now. *croak*

The summer is a great time where we can get ahead and “train” for the fall!

For instance, the next few months (when I’m not buried in summer school homework) will provide me some time that I can use to strengthen my vocal muscles and explore new rep for the fall semester.

If you are really averse to practicing over the summer, give yourself at least a few goals to hit each week. Make a commitment to practice twice a week, or to write one song a week.

3. Collaborate.

Make a shared playlist with your music school buddies on Spotify, and geek out over new music that each of you is discovering!

Write a song with a friend in person or over Skype.

Use some time to start a Soundcloud or Bandcamp account, and start sharing your music with your friends!

4. Learn.

I know how it is.

We spend the whole semester thinking about all of the things we can do and learn over the summer, and then in the click of a no. 2 pencil, finals are over and we suddenly find ourselves deep in the 8th season of a Netflix TV show while snuggled in our old Cinderella sheets at our parents’ house. And we realize that it’s late July. And school starts in THREE weeks.

Let’s not let our summers fizzle away without learning and growing in big ways!

Start and finish a quality book. Start learning a new instrument. Start a blog! Finish your music website. Train for a half marathon. Ask your dad to teach you how to fix a flat tire. Learn how to cook so you can stop eating Ramen.

5. Work!

Yay! Money! Summer is a great time to replenish your empty piggy bank.

For the record, I must have spent half of my spring earnings on McDonalds and Starbucks during finals week.

If you used to teach music lessons in your area, now would be a great time to contact some old students and ask them if they want some refresher lessons over the summer! I did this with an old student of mine when I got back into Tampa earlier this month, and was able to earn money by giving her some lessons.

If you can’t find a part time job, check out freelancing websites like Freelancer and Upwork, and you can find some awesome work on there! I have earned good money freelance writing through these sites last semester and this month, and love telling people how easy it is to sign up and get jobs online.

6. Plan.

Yes. You must plan out your semester. Don’t get overwhelmed by waiting to figure out your fall semester until after it starts!

Make goals for the next semester. How many hours a week will you spend practicing? How many songs do you want to write? What kind of connections do you want to make?

Plan out your work schedule. For me, it will include estimating how many hours per week I can spend on freelance writing jobs.

Make some high-level goals and write out the steps to achieve them. Tell your parents about your goals, and ask them if they have any advice to give you.

Boris is now glaring at me for waking him up. Well, it’s time to get up and get working on point #1: “Vegetate,” as I’m heading to the beach with my family for a week. I reckon I’ll have to practice what I preach and serenade the seagulls while I furiously write out my life goals in the sand.

With my toe.

While basking in the sun.

And snoozing. And...