Practicing while on vacation is a long debated topic. Some are in the school of thought that it’s good to take a mental and physical break every once in awhile, while others think too long of a break can put a wrench in the progress a student has made so far. Regardless of which school of thought you fall into, we can all agree that it’s better to practice than not to. Which brings us to our next question: how can you practice while on vacation? We’ve put together some tips to help you out.
Take Your Instrument With You
So, we’ll get the obvious one out of the way first. If you can take your instrument with you and spend time practicing in the hotel or Airbnb, this is the best way to practice while on vacation. While this is a no-brainer for instruments like the harmonica or the guitar and only really makes sense if you’re traveling by car and not by air, it is the best choice on this list. Nothing replaces the feeling of actually holding and playing your instrument. If you go this route, just make sure you’re practicing during the day and observe all rules and noise restrictions of wherever you’re staying. Again, this really only works if you’re playing an acoustic guitar or another instrument whose volume can be controlled.
Focus on Theory
Music practice isn’t just about practicing arpeggios and sheet music. It’s also about learning theory, rhythm, and sight-singing–all of which can be done quietly and from wherever! If a long plane or train ride is in your vacation plans, bring some theory books or download some music podcasts. You’d be surprised how much you can learn about music theory without ever having to pick up an instrument. The same goes for technique: you can practice perfecting the fingering of certain scales and chords without having to pick up an instrument.
Don’t Forget the Sheet Music
If you’re working on a particular piece of sheet music, bring it with you! Again, this is the perfect thing to focus on during long plane, train, or car rides (as long as you don’t get car sick!) It never hurts to give a piece of sheet music another once-over. By just looking at it (even without playing anything) you could notice something that never popped out at you before. This is also a good opportunity to practice sight-reading. Open a new piece of sheet music and see if you can hum the melody.
Bring Your Accessories
If your guitar or trombone won’t be joining you and your family on vacation, you might be able to practice sans instrument using accessories instead. For example, bringing the mouthpiece for horns and wind instruments can help you practice embouchure, vibrato, tone, octaves, overtones, and tonguing, among other techniques. If you’re a drummer, you might want to consider bringing drum pads, or at least your sticks. Pianists can bring paper pianos and guitarists can bring portable guitar fretboards. The hotel you’re staying at might even have a piano available in the lobby that you can play for a bit!
Listen to Music
If all else fails and you can’t do anything else on the list, you can always listen to music. Just because you are away from your instrument for an extended period of time doesn’t mean you can’t be inspired by a new song or artist. There’s nothing better than discovering a new song that you can’t wait to sit down and figure out how to play. Not only does listening to music get you thinking about your lessons, but it can inspire you to pick up a new instrument or learn a new genre.
If you do decide to take your instrument with you and plan on practicing while on vacation, it’s important to not bother anyone. For tips on that, check out our article on How to Practice an Instrument Without Disturbing the Peace.