Everyone loves summer, and let's be honest; why wouldn't they? Between time to take a vacation, swimming, Fourth of July celebrations, and ice cream, summers are amazing (except this one. This one is REALLY hot).
... But what happens when you or your kids take a long break from learning an instrument? What happens when you take several months off, and no practicing is taking place? A lot of forgetting is happening, to be honest. I often tell my students that music isn't like riding a bicycle. It's more like doing algebra. If it's not a craft that you're continuously refining, you do start forgetting. Your memory might be better than others, but there's also the question of muscle memory. Do your muscles remember what it's like to play that song that you mastered before your break? If not, when you resume classes, you might find yourself moving backward instead of forward, then spending the next month or two getting caught up again. If you're one of the lucky ones who don't forget anything, I envy you. Most people would. Most of us don't operate that way, though, and then we find ourselves playing the catch up game.
So, how do we enjoy our summer, and still keep on top of our instrument? Continue to take your classes, except for vacations! While I know that it's more fun to hang out with friends, play video games, or watch movies, you don't want to be stuck in catch-up mode when school starts. It's a small sacrifice to make that makes it easier for you to keep a routine when school starts. It's only three short months from school starting to our Christmas Recitals, which is your time to really shine.
In 2001, I sliced my hand open while waiting tables, and had to undergo tendon repair surgery. I wasn't able to play for about four months. When the stitches were out, and physical therapy was done, It took a solid six months to get back to where I was before the accident. My son, who is now at the age I was when I had my accident, didn't play for a month. To say he was rusty is an understatement. Don't let it happen to you if it can be avoided.
Remember, learning an instrument is a commitment, and it requires practice. Do you have to go at it as hard as you did during the school year? Well, that's entirely up to you, but the best results always come from consistency. Keep that in mind when you're considering a large break from learning.
I hope everyone is having a fantastic summer!