A-Level GCSE Key Stage 3

Small Steps for Summer Success

The summer is almost here and we all need a break! However for music students there are steps they can take, Small Steps for summer Success. By small I mean little things that they can do to make sure that they are keeping up with their musical studies. Nothing heavy or overbearing and certainly nothing that is going to take them away from having a proper break. If you are a teacher reading this, then please share it with your students. If you are a student reading this then I hope these ideas help you this summer.

Listening

In have previously blogged about listening and its power. This summer, one small thing you can do is think about your listening. Here are some ideas that you might like to think about

  • Create a listening plan of all the things you want to listen to. Be deliberate in your listening!
  • Aim to discover something new – album, composer, symphony – anything really. Wider Listening is always good for you!
  • Pick a particular genre to focus on and “get into” this summer. This may well be linked to the set works.
  • Listen to all of your set works – GCSE or A-Level. Make a playlist so that you can listen to them back to back.

Ultimately what I am saying is, make a plan for your listening and enjoy some new music. A long car journey or walk will be a perfect place to undertake some listening.

Practise

Imagine if you played your instrument or sang for just 15 minutes every day of the summer? Wouldn’t you get good! It is a small step you can take this summer. But it isn’t just about playing your instrument, and taking a drum kit abroad or down to Cornwall in the car might be tough.

  • You could take your sheet music with you on holiday and mark it up and look over it a couple of times.
  • Why not listen to some professional recordings of your piece so that you really get to know it.
  • If you have recordings of you performing then listen to them so you can work on improvements.

Reading

The summer is a great time to read. Whether sat or a beach, plane, ferry or coach, there is always time for a good book. There are loads of great things to read that will support you in your music making. It might be a book about a music, composer or band. You could read the notes from your exam board, or some of your class notes. Keep it light, no highlighter needed. But read something that is going to keep you in touch with your music making. I am personally reading a great book about Beethoven by Jan Swafford and a book about the Beatles by Ian MacDonald. Classic FM also have some great books available about Classical Music and composers.

Whatever you read, make sure you enjoy it! And please don’t pack textbooks, that might be a step too far!

Watching

The great thing about the modern world is that we have so much available to watch at any given moment. Whether it be something on Netflix or Disney+ or the latest video on YouTube. One Small Step for Summer Success is to make sure you watch some great content. It might be a video on YouTube of an orchestra playing a set work, or the Hamilton movie on Disney+. I would recommend you watch some of the great movies out there, taking note of the score behind the movie. Netflix and Amazon Prime have some great documentaries about music and song writing. Song Exploder on Netflix is a great documentary series all about how songs are written.

Small Steps for Summer Success

My message to you this summer is to make sure that you don’t forget you are a musician & and a student of music. You can do this without hours of study or a revision timetable. You can keeping playing, listening, reading & watching. Plan for your listening and make a playlist, and get yourself a new book to read on the beach. Whatever you do, keep it light and enjoyable and you will reap the benefits! And hopefully I am not too late to remind you to bring your instrument home for the summer – hopefully it isn’t gathering dust in the music room cupboard already!

I wish students & teachers a fantastic summer. And teachers – make sure you do the same as above – but maybe that is a topic for another blog.

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