As always seems to happen every school year and every summer, somehow we’ve blinked and the Summer ’20 Semester is already almost over! With nearly 11 full weeks behind us, we have just over 2 weeks of summer left until the ’20-’21 school year is upon us. That makes this a good time for each of us to pause and reflect on what we’ve accomplished this summer, what we can yet accomplish in the next two weeks, and what some good goals for the upcoming school year might be.
One of the things that I’ve been most proud of, and most impressed by, is how so many students have taken on the challenge on working through the Circle of 5ths on their scales and arpeggios. With 12 weeks of lessons in the summer, and more students than ever at home and able to take lessons every week of the summer, it seemed like the perfect time to tackle the ambitious task of working through all 12 Major and all 12 minor keys’ scales and arpeggios. And an ambitious task it was! But I’ve been blown away by how students’ have risen to the challenge, worked consistently week after week on their scales in various keys, and have dramatically improved their technique, tone, and intonation as a result. Bravo, students!
A second challenge that many of us undertook this summer was to work through all of our review pieces over the course of the summer. Again, with 12 weeks of summer lessons to work with, we divided all the Suzuki Violin and Viola repertoire up into 12 portions, and took on each weeks’ work bit by bit. And students really applied themselves to the task, relearning pieces that had fallen by the wayside, re-memorizing pieces that had grown foggy, and developing greater musicality, artistry, and mastery across all levels of their repertoire throughout the process. I’ve been incredibly proud of how students have dedicated themselves to practicing their review week after week, and have loved to see the incredible results of their hard work!
A third challenge we took on this summer was learning new repertoire. After a long ’19-’20 school year, Summer ’20 was an opportunity for many of us to step into something fresh and new – a change of pace, a new challenge, a different type of repertoire calling us to learn and apply new and different techniques. And as with scales and review, it’s been so exciting and encouraging to see student step up to the plate, meet the task at hand, and put forth some truly amazing performances, as our June 27 and July 25 Zoom “home concerts” displayed.
This summer has certainly presented unique challenges to all of us. One silver lining is that students have had perhaps more uninterrupted time than ever before in their lives to practice. And I feel like we’ve seen the results of what can happen when students are really able to apply themselves to their instruments. I was unsure whether students would be able to meet the challenges of cycling all the way through the Circle of 5ths in the course of one summer, whether they’d keep up with all their review, or whether they could rise to the level of their new repertoire – and they’ve been able to do all this and more!
As we prepare to enter into another school year, we know that students won’t have the luxury of as copious of amounts of time as they had this summer. But our sights are still set high! We’ve seen what students can accomplish, and even as we enter back into busyness, we want to hold onto as much of that standard of excellence as we can day after day, week in and week out. Practicing 7 days a week should always be the expectation, even if it can’t always be met. Suzuki CDs or other recordings of current and review literature should be listened to daily, which is almost always possible under every circumstance. And a weekly review chart should be a part of daily practice, so that everything that has been learned stays learned!
So, with everything that’s been accomplished this summer, we’re very much looking forward to the ’20-’21 school year and all that it holds in store. Let’s make the most of these last 2.5 weeks of summer, and head into a new year riding that wave of good habits and productivity!