13 Productive musical activities for summer vacation (that aren’t practicing)

Even though summer just officially began, it might feel like it’s been forever since your last semester ended. If you want to maximize your time you have until school begins again, here are a few ideas to get you motivated:

  1. Update your CV. Take a walk down memory lane and record all of the cool concerts, events, outreach, teaching, and other activities you’ve done this past year (or since you last updated your CV).
  2. Make a repertoire list. Repertoire lists are important documents to have for applications and auditions, so it’s important to create or update your list while you have some extra time.
  3. Make a musical bucket list. This is a fun way to organize your goals! Write down all the things you hope to accomplish, from skills you’d like to learn, pieces you’d like to perform, people you’d like to meet, and anything else you hope to one day achieve. (Bonus points: to increase to likelihood of actually achieving these goals, take some time to write concrete steps and map out a detailed plan to make sure each goal can become a reality.)
  4. Brainstorm future concert programs. I don’t know about anyone else, but I love coming up with new concert programs for upcoming performances. I love a good thematic recital – American in Paris, Cats and Clarinet, or any other ideas you can create! Think of pieces you love, pieces you’d like to perform, themes that get you excited, and write down the details to use for future events.
  5. Learn more about your instrument. Whatever you’d like to learn, there are probably countless resources available online. YouTube is filled with great tutorials, blogs are a treasure trove of information, and there are hundreds of books waiting to be read. Now that you have some time, try to enjoy learning for learning’s sake (without the pressure of grades and exams!).
  6. Use social media to network and connect. I’m fully convinced that social media is one of the greatest inventions ever (even with all of its negatives). It’s such a great tool to bring people together, so reach out to others in your community online – search forums, groups, pages, or send a good old fashioned DM to others you’d like to meet.
  7. Do a website or social media refresh. Update your bio, change your headshots, and refresh any outdated information. First impressions are so important, so make sure that your digital impression is a strong one.
  8. Listen (really listen) to music. Music is such a daily part of our lives that it often becomes mere background noise. Use this time to learn more about your favorite pieces, discover new works, and truly savor each note.
  9. Organize your music room. During the hustle and bustle of the school year, it’s easy for our musical spaces, cases, and paraphernalia to become a tad disorganized. Take some time to organize and tidy your music, practice space, case, equipment, accessories, and anything else.
  10. Learn a new skill. Whether that skill is music-related or not, it’s never a bad idea to diversify your skill set. This can expand your perspectives and creativity, and depending on the skills you choose to develop, you can use these to enhance your musical career. Useful skills could be conducting, arranging, music notation software, proofreading and editing, and a myriad of other options. (If you’re interested, some recent skills I’ve started learning are theremin, social media marketing, Italian, and barista skills.
  11. Attend a virtual festival. One of the silver linings of this new digital era is the multitude of free resources and events popping up online, many of which are completely free. Find some events or festivals that interest you and enjoy the experience!
  12. Create some resources of your own. If you want to simultaneously do a good deed and gain some teaching experience, create some pedagogical resources for your musical community. You can offer virtual lessons (it’s up to you whether or not you’d like to charge for these), film a tutorial, write some advice, or create any other resource you think would be valuable to others.
  13. Take a break. There is absolutely nothing wrong with taking some intentional time away from the instrument. It’s important to spend some time outside the practice room to develop into a multi-faceted and well-rounded musician, so plan some time off to recharge!

Ok, I know I said no practicing…but it’s kind of important. Hopefully you’ve maintained some semblance of a normal practice routine before school starts again. Extended vacations from school are a great opportunity to implement everything you worked on during the academic year, and it’s a great time to learn new skills and techniques. If you haven’t touched your instrument in a while, you can use my Back to Basics Boot Camp or Couch to Cavallini practice plan to get back into shape. (I also offer lesson bundles if you’d like more personalized feedback.)

How are you spending your time off to maximize productivity before the school year begins?

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