Why it is such a bad idea to take a break from guitar lessons
In this article I'm going to write about what happens when a student takes a break from taking guitar lessons.
Every guitar teacher has students who are not as "serious" about the guitar as he used to be (or would like them to be), so from guitar teacher's perspective, this article is merely a proof, that his students are no different from other's. This article is more intended to tell the students, why it's not a good idea to take a break.
Why do students take breaks from guitar lessons?
First of all, students take a break from getting lessons for many different reasons. There might be exams in school, summer break, holidays etc.
If students experience guitar lessons more as burden than something fun and useful, they will take a break from them on every possible occasion, with every possible excuse.
So, the first step to prevent students from taking a break must be made by the guitar teacher, who needs to provide exciting lessons and knows how to motivate the students. This of course isn't the easiest thing to do and it takes a competent guitar teacher with good motivational skills to accomplish that.
How to that is a topic for another article, in this one I will concentrate more on why it's not a good idea to take a break from students' perspective.
What happens when if your child stops taking lessons for a certain period of time?
If he or she is not very self motivated and has no strong goals and determination, they will also take a break from an instrument altogether.
In their mind, they has reached a certain level and can improve from that point on, whenever they decides to start taking lessons again. Of course, this couldn't be farther from the truth. When a student takes a break from practicing an instrument, his ability to play it starts declining immediately.
Finding playing the guitar a struggle
After a week of absence his or her playing becomes sloppy even while playing things they could play easily before. After a longer period of time, a student's ability drops so much, that they has to re-take many of the same lessons again. So if a student is at level 10 and takes a break, after two months of absence they might drop back to level 3. To get back on a level 10, they would have to re-take all the steps they had to make to get to level 10 in the first place. This is, of course, very frustrating and a dangerous motivation killer, but also time consuming and last but not least, expensive. Why pay twice for the same thing? Stupid, huh? Getting back to the same level might be a little bit quicker than it was the first time, but still not worthwhile at all.
So, what to do, when there's no other way, but to take a break from lessons?
There are a few ways to prevent a student from losing the abilities they has worked so hard to get.
· First one it the least favourable, and it's a good idea only if a student can't come the lessons at all (leaving the town for a longer period of time, longer sick leave, etc.).
In this case, a student has to make a practicing plan with their guitar teacher, merely for the purpose of staying in shape. This will work only if the student is self motivated and has developed a good practice routine, otherwise it will fail.
· Second option is far more favorable.
The student has to sit down with the teacher and find the optimal balance between the number of lessons weekly and their other activities, that are preventing him from visiting the hours full time. In this case, the focus will not be on improvement, but on maintaining the skills of a student on the same level, until the student can return to visiting hours full time.
So if a student has been taking 3 hours weekly during the year, he might take 1 hour during the summer break.
This way, after the summer break they will be able to continue from the same level he was on before it. This will save him a lot of time and money in the fall, but even more important, it will prevent him from getting frustrated and quitting.
· The third option is of course the best and most obvious. To continue taking the lessons the same way as during the year. Of course, this doesn't mean they can't go on vacation or anything like that.
If they goes, they can compensate for the missed hours after that. In this case the progress will take only a short break or not stop at all.
Students often don't see what us guitar teachers do.
We can compare the students who took a break with those who didn't very easily, and see what a huge gap appears between the two. Sometimes it's quite scary to be honest.
So if your child is thinking about taking a break, sit down with your guitar teacher and find the best possible solution. In general, every solution is better than to take a break completely for a couple of months.
This article was written by Nejc Vidmar, a professional guitar teacher with more than a decade of teaching experience. He's also accomplished musician, composer, producer and writer.