Summer Camp 2015: What did we learn?

The summer break already seems a long time ago here. Those last couple of weeks of the holiday seemed to fly by and so it is only now that I’m spending a little time to reflect on what we learnt during our unofficial family and friends music summer camp.

I was frustrated that life seemed to be speeding by without me making time to share my experience and love of music with the children so I set myself the challenge of doing a musical activity with the kids every day (and documenting as many as possible) throughout the summer break.

Some activities sparked a lot of fun and creativity, some failed to live up to my expectations, but there were definitely a few valuable lessons along the way…

  1. Make time for music
    This was my biggest challenge during term-time, but once the kids were out of school/kindergarten/preschool and all the other scheduled and unscheduled activities I found time to realise that music doesn’t always need too much time anyway. Sure, I’m still struggling with making time and enforcing a regular piano lesson (and practice!) for L, but we found plenty of fun and learning in simply drawing attention to the musical moments in everyday life.
  2. Keep the instruments accessible
    Like many families, we had plenty of musical instruments around the house, but most of them had been hidden away in frustration when the noise got too much! We rescued all our maracas, harmonicas, recorders, drums etc. and stored them all in one, accessible place and suddenly making music became a viable alternative to watching TV (admittedly TV still won more often than I’d like!). Yes, there are still times when the last thing I want to hear is the children blowing into their recorders, but now the instruments are all together I find it easier to accept and enjoy the noise as a musical activity rather than just TOO MUCH NOISE!
  3. Involve the children in the challenge
    There were definitely some days when the children didn’t want to be coerced into another musical activity, but they are all of an age when they definitely want to ‘help’. As soon as I told them about what I was trying to do (introduce more music into our everyday lives, get back to teaching, blog about our exploits, etc.) their ideas and enthusiasm added immeasurably to the experience.
  4. It’s not just about the kids
    As we did more and more musical activities as a family and as I thought more and more about music I found my own passion for playing and teaching flourishing to an extent I hadn’t necessarily anticipated. I now find myself prioritising my own musical development to a greater extent. I’m rediscovering the pieces I used to play, learning new repertoire, and my current personal challenge is to work on memorisation, as skill I never mastered (or even really attempted) when I was learning to play.
  5. When in doubt, sing a silly song…
    If any of this sounds remotely ‘worthy’, please be assured that a lot of our musical activities involved parroting each other, singing nonsense songs and dancing around to Shake It Off. It’s supposed to be fun, after all!

If you’ve already dipped into any of the Summer Camp posts I hope you found something fun there to inspire you. If not, well, it’s not too late, just click on the Summer Camp category to find all the posts about songs we listened to, games we played, instruments we tried and all the other musical bits and bobs that kept us busy over the summer.

The blog has been having a bit of a break while I set up my real-life music classes here in Calgary (very exciting!), but I’ll be back with plenty more musical thoughts and ideas in the next few weeks – please stay tuned! 🙂

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