During the summer, I used to travel all over creation, teaching summer Institutes, reuniting with colleagues, meeting fantastic Suzuki families, reinforcing the ‘big picture’ of the national and international presence of Suzuki Method. One major downside was being away from my own family. Another big problem for me was losing so much valuable teaching time with my own private students.
The students who fared the best had attended Institutes themselves and were coming back recharged. Of the ones who had not gone to an Institute, the very young students nearly had to begin all over again in the fall — lots of tears and loss of confidence. The older students had lost focus and required a lot of remedial work, both in violin/viola technique and in reestablishing the momentum of regular lesson assignments.
But, skip to the new plan: offering lessons during the summer to families who are rested, unhurried and presenting an overall sense of calm. There is also a less hectic schedule for myself to give me a sense of spaciousness and clarity that I often lose during the academic year.
I’ve gotten fairly adept at estimating how long a student will require to accomplish an assignment and have discovered that students who are having regular summer lessons can move approximately three times as fast through my typical practice chart. Summer lessons feel like ‘light speed’ compared to the usual pace of life during the school year.
Maybe it’s the addition of warmer weather, more exercise, pool hair and flip-flops. But besides all the best parts of summer, these lessons seem to share another aspect of Ideal Conditions for Learning, which is living exactly in the moment. We are less pressured by what has preceded the lesson (being tired or wound up) and less concerned with future events (dashing off to the next activity, racing home to start homework). What a wonderful state of mind!
Now my challenge to myself is to create the feel of summer lessons year-round.