This is always a transitional time as far as my teaching schedule is concerned. Some students who have been with me all fall and winter drop off as summer approaches, a busy time of year when you live in a popular tourist destination. But speaking of birds, our “snow birds” return from Florida about this time of year too, so they take the vacancies that may happen. I also begin getting inquires from parents looking to schedule summer activities for youngsters. We also have quite a few summer homes in Falmouth, where people who work in Boston or New York often send their families for summer and sometimes they want guitar lessons. It is an exciting time of year.
As my students change at this time of year I’m always cognizant of how I can help departing ones continue to progress and I also need to review where I left off with students who are returning. I keep pretty detailed notes on each student, which help quite a bit. For the ones who are taking the summer off but intend to begin their lessons in the fall I try to impress on them the importance of not going too long without picking the guitar up at least for a few minutes on a frequent basis. As I’ve said many, many times, in its most basic sense playing the guitar is exercise and if we don’t exercise regularly it takes a long time to just get back to the place we were. I tell them that a break in lessons should be a time to go back through things we’ve worked on but most importantly, have some fun! Play anything you want and don’t be judgmental. As long as you’re playing – just about anything – at the very least you won’t regress. More likely, you may even find better ways to ask questions about what you are playing.
It’s always cool to hear what my summer people have learned over the winter. Although I haven’t heard from her yet, a girl who must be about in her last year of high school and has been taking summer lessons with me for a few years will most likely return. Last summer she arrived with a whole notebook full of songs she had written and some of them were excellent. I hope she comes back because I can’t wait to hear her latest creations. A retired Army officer who has a summer home nearby is another one I look forward to meeting with again. He makes a point of attending weekend guitar workshops over the winter at a couple of the better stores in the Boston area and I have to confess I’ve even appropriated a lick or two from him!
As far as my own playing and performing are concerned this is also a transitional time for me, too. Soon – perhaps even this Sunday – I will begin doing my regular gig at the Daily Brew café outside on the back deck. It is a very comfortable, covered area that is fun to play, as long as bumblebees and wasps (who are also waking up from the cold winter) don’t decide to investigate while I’m in the middle of a song. Not that there are many of them, but I have a borderline pathological fear of those critters. Oh well! It’s worth it though, the back deck at the Brew is a wonderful place to hang out on a lazy Sunday morning.
My summer bookings in other places are beginning to fill in, mostly functions of various kinds. I recently purchased a Roland AG-33 acoustic amp for some of those gigs. It is battery or AC powered and sounds pretty good, although I did have to do a bit of a tweak to eliminate the escape of air out the battery compartment, which leads to distortion at moderate or high volume. It seems to have worked, thank goodness.
So I guess I can take a chance and put away the snow shovel that continues to rest on my back deck outside my studio. But we New Englanders are a wary lot about these things. Yes, the calendar says it’s May and the weather forecast calls for temps in the low 60s next week. OK, but…..
I think I’ll leave the shovel out there for another week.
Peace & good music,