Summer Festivals: Hiking, Swimming...and Practicing!

You have your summer festival plans all set and are looking forward to a great summer of JUST practicing and concerts.  What can you expect to accomplish?  I believe, quite a lot.  Here are six points to help you have a successful and an enjoyable summer.   

  1. Read as much music as you can. Chamber music sight reading parties are a great way to get to know repertory, as well as people. I know you can’t wait to dive into those Brahms Sextets but, don’t neglect early Haydn Quartets such as the Opus 20s or 33s. A wonderful violinist I know (and a great character) says “We can read all the Opus 20s in 2 and a half hours, IF we don’t talk too much!”
  2. Speaking of people. Getting to know new friends and teachers is one of the great pleasures of summer festivals. These friends are your colleagues for years to come. If you find people you work well with, don’t let them go! These are connections that will last a lifetime.
  3. Speaking of teachers. I urge my students to play for as many people as they can. Summers are a great time to explore new ideas. No one teacher has all the answers. While it’s invaluable to work with one teacher over a number of years, it’s crucial to hear what other wonderful cellists have to say.
  4. Choose your repertory wisely. It may, or may not, be the best time to start a major concerto. Given that you have about six weeks or less, you could stick with shorter pieces or a movement or two of longer repertory. Do some research. What is the repertory that is special to your summer teacher? Gain their insight into those pieces.
  5. Bring some works you would be comfortable playing on short notice. If you are asked to play in a concert the first week or so you, want to be able to say yes.
  6. If you are attending an orchestra festival, or chamber music festival, listen to several recordings of the repertory you are going to be working on. Know the range of tempi and know how your part fits in with the whole. Be a complete musician. Learning the notes is just the first step.

It’s summer! Hike, swim, eat ice cream AND practice 4 hours a day.