Finals season is here. You probably have a jury coming up. Maybe a test or two. And maybe a paper. Not much stands between you and summer break.
Sweet, sweet summer break. Three months of absolutely nothing. Not so fast…
You don’t want to waste those three months. Take advantage of your extra free time.
But It’s a Break…
Summer break is an amazing time, because you’ve just completed another year of education. Most summer breaks are about three months long, so they’re almost as long as a semester.
It can be tempting to want to do nothing with your summer break. Yes, it is a break from classes. But you can (and should!) do other things with those three months.
Shouldn’t you take time off?
We all need some time off. Don’t get me wrong. I’m sure I’ve come close to burnout and would have reached it if I didn’t take a short break.
Emphasis on short break. Three months is not a short amount of time.
So by all means, take a day or two after finals to decompress, watch Netflix, and be a couch potato.
But don’t spend your entire summer doing that. Make sure you have something to do with your time.
What can you do over summer break?
There are tons of things you can do during the summer. The first thing is take a summer class.
Now, I know that doesn’t sound super fun. But taking summer classes helped me graduate from undergrad in four years despite transferring and changing my major a couple of times.
Even if your school’s music department doesn’t offer anything over the summer, you can take a general education class or two. As a music major, general education courses can eat into your time.
You can get them out of the way over the summer.
The next thing you can do is find a job. Like general education courses, a job can be surprisingly time consuming during the school year. If you don’t have time to work during the year, you can make some extra cash during the summer.
You can do anything from work at a retail store to teach private lessons to house sit for friends and family.
Another great summer activity is practicing! You should definitely keep up with your practice routine over the summer. Like I said, three months is a long time. So don’t lose the progress you made this year just because you don’t want to practice much over break!
Lastly, there are tons of music festivals and events during the summer. Try and participate in one or two. They’re a great way to meet other musicians, and some are a great excuse to travel.
Should you go home?
The next big question for students who left their hometowns for school is whether or not to go home for the summer.
If you lived on campus this years, odds are you have to be out of your dorm by a certain day. So if you don’t have another place to stay in your college town, you’ll have to go home.
But if you lived off campus or have a good friend who does, you can stay in your college town.
If you had a job during the year, it can be smart to stay in town and keep it over the summer. Or if you want to take a class on campus, you’ll want to be close by.
However, if you’re feeling homesick, going home might be what you need right now. At home, you can also catch up with friends and family.
You can also go back to an old job for the summer.
To go home or not? Well, that depends on you.
Personally, I feel like it’s easier for me to be more productive with practicing or blogging when I’m in my own place rather that at home with family and pets.
How can you take advantage of summer break?
Aside from summer classes, work, practice, and festivals, you can take advantage of summer break in other ways. You can plan for your next year.
Maybe you have a recital coming up. Summer’s the perfect time to start learning some of that repertoire.
Or perhaps you want to start an ensemble in the fall. You can use the summer to find music or start marketing your ensemble and finding musicians.
You could also take on a summer project like learning a piece you wouldn’t learn otherwise. Or maybe you want to research a certain topic but never have the time during school. Summer break is perfect for that!
What should I do now?
As you gear up for finals and juries, think about what you want to do this summer. Everyone’s summer will look different. And your summer probably won’t be the same as it was last year.
If you already know you’re going home, figure out when and how. If you have a summer job, contact them to get your schedule.
But don’t forget to focus on ending the semester on a high note! (Pun intended)
How to Make the Most of Summer Break
Once you have an idea of what you want to do this summer, it’s time to make that a reality.
Here are some tips to help you make the most of summer break.
If you want to have a productive summer, then you need to set goals. Make them achievable, and keep those goals in the back of your head each day.
You’ll be able to reach goals more easily than just aiming for progress.
Make a schedule
Even if you don’t have a job this summer, make yourself a schedule. Plan out when you want to do certain things so that you can reach your goals!
But make that schedule realistic because you also want to…
Stick to your schedule
Once you make a schedule, do your best to stick to it. Of course, things come up. A friend might ask you to go to dinner or see a movie.
But most of the time, you should stick to your schedule. Obviously, you have to stick to a work schedule if you have one. And if not, treat your projects like a job. They deserve the time you scheduled for them.
Participate in a fun event or festival
I mentioned music festivals as a way to spend your summer, and they’re an excellent way to make the most of summer break. You can meet other musicians and learn things you wouldn’t in school.
Even if you can’t travel, look for local events in your area. Find a community music group to join, or even just take a lesson or two with a local teacher.
Remember to have fun!
I’ve been out of school once, and I can tell you summers aren’t as fun when you’re working full time! So make sure you enjoy the time you have this summer!
Schedule time for friends and family. Treat yourself after reaching one of your goals. And don’t feel bad for sleeping in a little.
You deserve it!
Do you have any exciting plans this summer? Leave them down in the comments! And be sure to check out a day in my life for some inspiration on how to spend your days!