Can you take a break from music lessons for summer vacation?

Can you take a break from music lessons for summer vacation?

It’s summer — time to hit the pool, take off on a family vacation or at least take in a summer concert or two.

What it's not, for many casual music students, is a time to practice for their own concerts or recitals.

Many students studying piano, guitar or drums, put musical performance pursuits aside and tune out over summer break. But turn down the practice completely, and it could cost you.

Just about every music instructor has their own policy when it comes to summer break, and determining that policy before you're planning your vacation is important.

What summer break?

Lynda Quandt is the owner of highly rated A Little House of Chords in Aurora, Illinois. She says she strongly encourages students not to take time off over the summer, and if they do they could end up on her waiting list when fall rolls around.

“It is not to anyone’s advantage to stop learning over the summer,” says Quandt, who charges $25 per 30-minute lesson. “I have found, through the years, that if you let a student go for three weeks or a month, they lose interest.”

Instead of taking the whole summer off, Quandt provides an extremely flexible schedule for families. She even asks for summer vacation schedules early enough to accommodate all of her 20 students. 

As for a summer practice routine? Quandt suggests the same 30 minutes, four to seven days a week is ideal.

A different approach

Sol Garnier has taught drums and guitar at his highly rated Sol Garnier Chicago Drum Lessons in Albany Park since 1991. He says he sometimes sees about a 25 percent drop off rate during the summer months. 

Students who want time off over the summer won’t be placed on a waiting list, but they likely will have to switch their lesson times in September. Garnier says, they also risk falling behind and repeating some of the same material, which can become costly at $30 per 30-minute lesson.

“It really depends on the student, but taking the summer off can set some people back a couple of months,” he says.

Garnier’s also adopted a pretty liberal practice policy when thoughts turn to fun in the sun instead of at the drum.

“I don’t recommend practice,” he says. “I know all too well that the students are going to do what they are going to do. Instead, I ask them to try and put themselves in a musical environment over the summer. Something like, if they are going to a relatives house, do they have a piano? Can they play while away on vacation?”

And what if mom or dad want to take up music lessons in this season of their life? See how Chicago music instructors teach adults to play new instruments. Sorry, "summer break" won't get the adults out of practicing, either.