The end of the school year is drawing nigh and you are anticipating a great summer. I bet you have an amazing vacation planned, probably a house project or two, sports or church camp, and maybe some summer school for the kids. I know you want to do what is best for your kids. You want to spend quality time with them. You also want them to succeed in their school endeavors and their extracurricular activities, thus you enroll them in summer school and camps. But have you given private music lessons any thought?
Research shows that kids who do not read during the summer struggle when the school year begins (http://www.summerlearning.org/?page=know_the_facts). When kids are not engaged in learning activities their brains atrophy and when the school year starts up they struggle to regain that lost brain power. This applies equally to music and other learning activities (sports, bible studies, math, science, etc.). When kids brains are not engaged in learning they lose some of what they have learned in the past and have a harder time progressing.
Unfortunately, during the summer, private music lessons are the first thing to be dropped in lieu of a sports camp, family vacation, or other activities. I submit that music should be the among last of these to go. I’m not saying that these other activities aren’t valuable, only that music lessons can be more cost effective and valuable than other activities. Music is one of very few activities that engages multiple areas of the brain at once. Music exercises the sensory cortex (muscles and touch), the occipital lobe (vision), the left frontal lobe (facts and patterns), the auditory cortex (ears), and the right frontal lobe (creativity) (http://www.pianimation.com/2012/07/23/this-is-your-brain-on-music-part-1/). Can you think of many other activities that involve so many areas of the brain? Practicing music also helps create stronger connections between areas of the brain, especially the corpus callosum, the part that connects the two lobes, because it involves so many different areas in both lobes of the brain. Music can exercise skills for nearly every subject in school– language arts can be applied while reading music since music follows many of the same or similar rules as language and note names are the ABC’s, math can be applied when counting the beat, subdividing rhythms, recognizing patterns and counting intervals between notes, history by learning about the composers of the pieces kids are learning, P.E. by applying proper breathing and posture, science by learning about sound waves and intonation, even technology can be incorporated into music learning when students learn to use electronic devices to listen to music and computer programs to generate musical scores and recordings, foreign language skills are gained since most musical notation is in Italian, and, of course, art. Can you get this much bang for your buck from a spots camp?
If you don’t think you can fit music lessons in to your busy summer schedule think again, most private music teachers are willing to work around a family’s summer schedule if you let them know about plans ahead of time. Many will offer flexible scheduling at just about any time of the day and be open to rescheduling or cancelling to accommodate vacations and other activities. Others will offer monthly or weekly group classes in place of or addition to individual lessons. Some are even comfortable teaching lessons via Skype or face time to work around long vacations. If weekly lessons through the whole three months of summer don’t feel like a good fit you can try bi-monthly or just monthly lessons, there are music camps put on by local music stores and colleges, high schools often host summer marching bands for parades, and even picking up lessons a few weeks to a month before school starts will help reactivate the brain and increase musical and academic success when the school year begins.
If cost is an issue consider this, many sports camps cost $150-$300+ for a week or two of training while music lessons cost far less, ranging in price from $10/half hour lesson (about $40/month)–$25/half hour lesson (about $200/month). Another consideration is this, often teachers will lower their regular rate during the summer to encourage students to stay on, or are willing to negotiate payment options. Summer marching band programs with a high school run between $25-$100 for a month or two of musical instruction and physical activity. Music camps are often comparable to sports camps as far as cost, though duration varies depending on the host. Finding an option for summer musical activities that fits in you budget is easy with a little bit of research that is well worth the effort. Local school and music store websites often have lists of summer camps, activities, and teachers in your area, and if they don’t many school music teachers keep a private teacher list handy.
When you consider planning your summer think about music lessons. Music lessons help keep the brain from atrophying in many areas by activating many different areas of the brain and keeping the mind actively engaged in learning. Music lessons and camps can be scheduled around other summer activities and can be cheaper and more cost-effective than other summer activities.
a music teacher
ps. just a little more information about the amazing things a musical education teaches.