Recreational Value of Summer Study

by John Tasker Howard, Jr.

There are two objects of a vacation; one physical, the other mental. During the summer months it is essential that every one have a rest, and a little fun, which together with a change of surroundings will make over the physical being and give strength to withstand the strain of the next season's work. But lest this rest be a loss marked off to the luxury appropriation, it is also essential that the time be spent in enlarging the working equipment.

It is not necessary that the two be sought separately--the objects can be gained simultaneously. By far the best method of rebuilding the physique lies in seeking a change of air and environment. This results in a fresh view of one's problems and the realization that one's own troubles are only a small problem after all. The summer courses offered to teachers are so spread over all sections of the country that no matter where one lives he can find a school located in surroundings entirely foreign to those to which lie is accustomed.

This gives the necessary change of air. The climates of the East and West are so unlike that if the New Yorker goes to Chicago, or to the Coast if he can afford it, and the Westerner comes to New York, the vacation will be a change in every sense of the word. New York and Chicago have well been called the world's greatest summer resorts, there are so many recreational opportunities in these centers that no matter what the tastes of the individual, they can be satisfied to the full.

In the summer the majority of the country's great artists devote their time to teaching. A "Master Class" conducted by some one at the top of the profession is held in almost every important city of the country, and although the prices are as a rule high, attendance at such courses is a well-worth while investment for those who can afford them. For those who needs must count their pennies, there are less expensive courses, and no matter what the teacher's specialty, it is easy to find instruction that will be helpful.

It is highly desirable, and important, that something else beside the special line the teacher pursues be studied in the summer. For this is where the change comes in study some branch of music, or the arts, other than that in which you are engaged in the winter months. Every branch of music has some bearing on the other branches, and the specialist must have a broad knowledge of allied departments if he is to succeed in teaching one class of pupil.

The coming together of pupils from various parts of the country brings about an interchange of ideas and experiences that is not only broadening, but recreational as well. It is usually helpful to hear about other people's problems and to realize that they have their troubles as well as ourselves. There is always available a group for outings, and if the classes consist of congenial persons, lasting friendships are often formed.

The most valuable benefit from such mental recreation is that it makes the work of the winter months recreational too. If a fresh viewpoint of the routine work be gained each summer, the daily teaching will be something new every winter, and the regular work will seldom become perfunctory and mechanical. In this way the vacation of the summer will last the year round.

Teachers make a great mistake in dropping all thought of their work during the summer, especially the examining of new material. The summer months are the logical time for this task. If the teacher will spend a few hours of each vacation week in looking over the catalogues of the leading publishers, and examining the pieces sent on approval, he will be in a far better position to select the best. When this work is left to the fall, the traditional opening of not only the teaching season, but the thinking season as well, the teacher is so engaged in interviewing and seeking new pupils, or making a schedule for old pupils, that there is very little time left for properly selecting new material. The result is that many new and valuable works pass unnoticed.

The summer issues of the musical magazines arc invariably devoted to new ideas for the next season, to announcements of plans of various institutions and artists, and to prospectuses of all sorts. It costs no more to have subscriptions to these periodicals temporarily changed to the summer address. The time devoted to reviewing the past season and planning the next can well be spent in going over the files of the magazines for the past year, for maybe something valuable has been missed during the rush of the winter months, when there was so little time for reading.

A rest is essential in the summer, but it must be the right kind of a rest. It is acknowledged that staying in bed of a Sunday is not nearly so restful as a brisk walk, so why mentally stay in bed of a summer? Take your intellect for a brisk walk in the open air of new ideas.