After a semester of spending your life incredibly focused on music, it can be really, really tempting to spend your whole winter break ignoring your instrument. After all, you just spent 14ish weeks living and breathing music – sometimes the thought of spending your vacation working with your instrument seems awful. However, if you want to keep improving, it’s important to not bail on music your entire vacation. Instead, use your vacation to learn how to love music again!
Take a (short!) break. A short break from your instrument is honestly good for you. Take a week and just don’t play. Don’t even think about your instrument. If you ACTIVELY want to play, for your own benefit and not out of a compulsion to improve, then sure, play. But otherwise just let it be and remember the parts of life that don’t revolve around your instrument.
Listen to your favorite music. I know that during the semester my life tends to become my repertoire and songs by the same composers as my repertoire, even during my downtime. My actual favorite music gets left behind in favor of what I’m trying to learn. So during your vacation, go and listen to the music that led you to love it. Go revisit your punk phase! Listen to those Broadway soundtracks! Sing along to P!nk in the car! Whatever got you hooked on music, go remember that and hear it again.
Find fun repertoire. Look up pieces for your instrument that would be fun to play. After a semester learning primarily coluratura repertoire, I’m now going to be doing a bunch of songs from Bolcom’s Cabaret Songs. It’s gonna be great, because that’s the stuff that I really like to sing. Do the same thing for your instrument. It’s important to actually enjoy what you’re doing with your instrument!
PLAY with your instrument. On a related note, go do weird shit with your instrument. The point is to have fun, remember? To do something you enjoy! I have been making just the weirdest noises over the past couple weeks. Noodle around with it. See if you can play the Monster Mash by ear. HAVE FUN DANG IT.
Look up videos of beginners on your instrument. There’s nothing to remind you how much you’ve improved on your instrument that finding videos of 10-year-olds on YouTube who just started your instrument last year. They tend to have a lot of fun, and they are so proud of themselves! Remember how you felt when you were at the same point – then look at yourself now, and at how much you’ve improved. You should still feel proud!
Remember that music is something that you love. Go back and look at the things that made you love it – they are still there. If you take some time over break and remember them, then you’ll be in a good place to start next semester off well.