How Your Kids Can Avoid The Dreaded Summer Brain

(Ed. Note – Ryan) One of the OG Guitar Instructors from the RockStars era of our school, Jason Land, has gone on to create one of the most successful guitar schools in all of Los Angeles. Located in Burbank, his school and method are called Guitar Ninjas, and it’s truly special what he has created up there. Jason and I talk on a weekly basis about how to better help our students and keep them focused on progressing as musicians and humans. This week, Jason sent me over a post he wrote about how to avoid the dreaded Summer Brain taking over your children during July and August. You know what this is, that glazed look in their eyes from staring at a phone screen for ten hours a day, unable to answer a basic question, etc. I loved what he wrote so much, that we decided to post it here for our Van Tuyl Music Academy family to enjoy…

As we approach the closure of the school year I’m sure your champagne is icing and the celebration is ready to begin! No more driving, you get to put the parent taxi service on hiatus for a few months It’s a glorious feeling, one that I can appreciate because I’m a parent as well.


While it’s great for you and the kids to get a break, we want to encourage music lessons throughout the summer.


Music Lessons are a year-round program. Our method is rooted in creating positive physical and mental habits that apply both to music and life. As we know, muscles that go unused deteriorate, and musical skills are no exception. Let’s not regress on such tremendous progress! We care about your kids, and we want them to achieve their personal best. Below are a few things we’ve learned from research and from personal experience of over 10 years as a music instructor about the effects of keeping children’s minds engaged in music throughout the summer.


Music Keeps Brains Working!

When school is out, you want to keep your kid’s brain functioning at a high level, and music is the perfect way to do that.


Since you’ve already signed your child up for music lessons, chances are you know about all of the important advantages it offers kids. In addition to being an important physical and creative outlet, music education improves literacy and quantitative reasoning, and provides valuable social and emotional benefits too. Music lessons will keep these benefits from lapsing during summer!


Music Challenges Kids!

It is both fun and challenging, and keeps them engaged! Just because school stops doesn’t mean your lessons have to, and continuing to work on music over the summer gives your child goals to work towards, building self-reliance and initiative.


Music Is A Positive Outlet!

With so much downtime during summer, it‘s easier for kids to wander onto paths you don’t approve of. Too much time watching tv or playing video games can diminish a child’s attention span and open doors that lead to deeper issues down the road. Help your kids stay on the right track by providing an outlet where they are held accountable and distracted from the screen at least once per week.


Work On Problem Areas! Summer is a great time to work on any problem areas in their playing. Whether it is with rhythm, keeping time, particular chord shapes or a specific song they want to learn, summer is the perfect time to fill in the gaps!


If You Don’t Use It, You Lose It. This is possibly the most important reason to continue learning music through the summer. It’s also one of the reasons we like to homeschool year-round. Every month your child develops new skills in their music lessons which are essential to their growth as a musician, and these can be quickly lost if too much time is taken off. Like any off-season in sports, you can come back for the next season prepared and stronger than ever before, or out of shape and at a loss starting it all up again. Don’t let your child lose their momentum!


We understand that there are family vacations, summer camps and other activities that can prohibit taking lessons each week, but my team and I are asking for your support as much as possible this summer. We truly believe in your kids and want to continue helping them develop into well-rounded individuals. Our core mission is to use music lessons as an outlet to promote better life habits, and we are passionately committed to that goal. Developing and refining the physical and mental habits that come from playing music is a year-round process; you won’t regret deciding not to put that on a 3-month hold. Please, let us be the fun and educational outlet your child needs this summer.


Thanks so much for your support!

-Jason Land, Guitar Ninjas Founder

A few thoughts I (Ryan) would like to add…

  1. Part of summer is recharging the batteries for the grind of the school year. I absolutely get that! It’s for this reason that we’ve created our VTMA Summer Camp Program, which allows kids to start their day here at the school, for just 1-2 hours of music and fun. After that, get out, go to the beach, hang with your friends, play six hours of video games, eat junk food! But if you can keep disciplined by starting your day off right with music, it allows for that excellent balance of life and music.
  2. Instead of stopping lessons altogether, maybe you should consider picking up a new instrument, just for fun! The great thing about our school is that it gives our students the opportunity to explore multiple instruments in music. So if you’re a guitar player, try the drums! If you’re a vocalist, give your voice a break and learn to accompany yourself on piano or guitar. If you’re a pianist or guitarist, learn to sing! If you’re a drummer, learn bass guitar and how it relates to what you do on the drums. Not only will your mind reset in your break from your primary instrument, you’ll come back with a new perspective on music, because you’ll understand more of what is happening around you when you play. And hey! our Instrument Immersion camp is just $200, or $125 for VTMA students. That means you’ll spend an hour a day, learning that new instrument. You may even decide to stick with it once the school year rolls back around, who knows!
  3. Lastly, and most importantly from Jason and my experience… this blog is not about keeping our summer enrollment up. Believe it or not, the slightly slower pace of summer is good for us as well. What it’s about is keeping our musicians engaged and growing. We can’t tell you how many hundreds of kids, who’ve worked incredibly hard to achieve an ability, only to say, “we’ll be back in September…” and then never come back. They get complacent, and the development stops. We want to help our musicians avoid this pitfall… we hope you do too!