Welcome to Art's Article for the Month of:
This article's in two parts, one for adults, one for kids.  If you're a kid, just click here and skip down to the part that's written more from YOUR point of view. 

It's April.  The school year is drawing to a close, and for many of us it is a time that we are preparing for major changes in our lives.

Oh, I know that for many families the change is simply the arrival of SUMMER VACATION.  That can be traumatic enough, but for many families there are even more dramatic changes coming. 

Job changes can mean relocations.

High School Graduation can mean going away to college or relocating for a job.

College Graduation can mean relocating for a job.

In all of these life-changes you should take into account your violin playing.  Does the new hometown have an orchestra in which you can play?  Does your public school system have an orchestra program?  What is the quality of that program?  Does your college offer classes in violin?  Does it have an orchestra?  What about chamber ensembles?  Is there a violin teacher in the area that you can work with?  Could you help out in a music program by serving as a mentor? 

These are all things that need to be considered when you are making a move.

What about people who are not changing locations, but would like to change their situation when it comes to violin?

Should you start seeing a private teacher?

Should you change teachers?

Should you place my child into a Suzuki program?

Should you teach?

All of these questions require some thought and some research.  The Internet is a great place to do research.  Start by going to violin sites such as this one and looking for a links page.  These can point you toward some very good resources in your research.

Go the the Chamber of Commerce of the city you are moving to.  Ask about music groups active in the area.  Check the Public Library.  Contact the music stores in the area.  They should be a wonderful resource!  After all, if they can help you they may be gaining a new customer. 

Ask people you know in the area.  Be careful, though, if you are talking to non-musicians.
We were considering a move, and in speaking to a non-musician acquaintance asked about the community's symphony orchestra.  I had been to the orchestra's web site several times, and it appeared to be a vibrant organization, active in the community.  The acquaintance told me that the city had no orchestra.  When I pointed out the web site the family was shocked.  Musicians tend to know more about music-based organizations in the community than non-musicians.  (And that's only natural.)

Call the public schools and ask about their programs.  Ask who the music teacher is, then question her about music opportunities in the area.

All in all, take music into account when you are making a major move.  It is amazing how many people research the job market, the housing market, even grocery prices in a town, but never ask about the cultural activities in which they can participate (not just watch) before they get there.

Okay, Kids, this part's aimed a little bit more at you.

I wrote to the adults about changes in our lives that can take place in the summer.  Summer's a time when lots of people change jobs, move from one town to another...lots of stuff.

And Summer's a time when lots of stuff changes for kids who play the violin, too.

First, most of us won't have lessons for a long time.  And you know what?  That means we probably won't practice for quite a while, too.  We set the violin aside and we do things like swim, camp, play outside, and all that good stuff! 

But we can have fun and at the same time not lose all that hard work that you have put in over the school year.  And honestly, it's not that hard to keep from losing a whole year's work.  Let's look at a couple things you can do over the Summer that you can start preparing for right now.  (And no, I'm not going to tell you to pull out your etude books and play them for an hour a day.)

1.  Get together with other folks who play your instrument.  I grew up studying classical violin.  There wasn't a whole lot that I could have done to keep playing classical pieces over the summer that didn't involve just shutting myself inside my room and playing all by myself.  It's probably that way with you, too.  But what you can do is start looking right now for things that you can do in your own community that involve playing the violin for fun.  Summer musicals offer the chance to work on Broadway show tunes.  Bluegrass fiddle jams are a great way to play with some folks that have a lot of fun with their fiddles.  What about a fiddle camp?  These last anywhere from two days to two weeks and their purpose is to help you learn more about your instrument, about your style, and keep you playing music that you like!  Mark O'Connor's camp is probably the most famous, but if you search for the term "fiddle camp" on Google you'll undoubtedly come up with something in your area.
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2.  Stand out from the pack.  Have fun with your fiddle, and let folks know that you're not just part of the pack.  You're different.  And you have a lot of fun being that way!  T-Shirts are one way to do that.  Have your parents put a bumper sticker or license plate frame on their car that lets folks know that there is a fiddler on board!  And when someone asks about it, go ahead and offer to play.  You may feel a little bit awkward the first time or two, but you'll gain a lot of confidence.  And you'll make people say, "Wow!"

3.  Too hot to stay outside?  To shy to play in front of others right now?  How about a DVD to help you learn a new style.  These are cool:
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The whole point is, you've worked too hard to let the progress you've made this year just slip away.  And believe it or not, the violin is NOT a medieval torture device only played by the truly un-cool  (Although I used to think it was.  Did you see this month's Violinist of the Month?).  Have fun with it, and put in a little time and next Fall will go a whole lot better.