Top 10 New Songs for Summer 2021
It's easy to skip practice time during the summer months. Once regular Monday to Friday academic or work schedules drift into a more open spaciousness, calendared practice times can shift off the radar. There are a couple of things string musicians can do to pick up their instruments more often.
The first is to create a balanced summer practice schedule that flows with a more relaxed calendar. The second is to use the summer months to learn fun new songs that might otherwise eat up precious rehearsal time during the rigorous concert season.
Pick Up Your String Instrument & Learn New Summertime Tunes
Here are 10 new songs to keep summertime practice more enjoyable.
1. Your favorite song
Learning to play - or accompany - your favorite song is a fun way to practice improvisation skills. We believe that learning to improvise is one of the most valuable skills any musician can add to their toolkit. Improvising keeps you versatile, able to play with just about any group of musicians, and also helps you to reorient yourself if you make a mistake during a solo performance.
Ready to Branch Out Into Bluegrass?
Making the transition from classical to bluegrass is a clever way to work on your improvisation skills and make your way into another music genre. Violinists may find this shift of particular benefit because the mandolin is strung just like the violin, which can make it an easy "second music language." Once you've mastered a few bluegrass tunes, search online for music jams available in your area.
2. "Shady Grove," by Bill Monroe
This tune works just as well as a solo piece as it does in a duet or larger group. These Shady Grove arrangements by Tom Shelton are affordable and can help you feel a little more "shady" on a hot summer day.
3. "Cripple Creek," by Robbie Robertson
As with jazz tunes, many bluegrass songs are "standards," and most well-known bluegrass artists cover them. Cripple Creek is undoubtedly one of those. We love this version of Cripple Creek because it includes the words. If you love to sing, you can emulate folk and bluegrass violinists by holding your violin down by your chest - rather than your chin - once you've mastered the notes.
4. "I am a Man of Constant Sorrow," by Dick Burnett
First sung and recorded by Dick Burnett around 1913, I am a Man of Constant Sorrow has been on the Top 10 Bluegrass playlists ever since. Most non-bluegrass lovers became fans when the Soggy Bottom Boys performed it on the "O, Brother Where Art Thou?" soundtrack. While the tune may have the word sorrow in them, and the lyrics are melancholy, the fact remains that this is a fun song to play and sing!
For the More Contemporary Music Enthusiast
5. "(Love is Like a) Heat Wave," by Martha & the Vandellas
We're aware that this song was originally a hit back in the 1960s, but it remains timeless on the airwaves because its lyrics are so approachable to anyone in the throes of summer love. Learn to play the song Heat Wave, and you'll have people up in dancing in no time.
If you find yourself called upon to play a more dance-oriented tune, check out our post, Violin Pieces that Get People Dancing.
6. "Watermelon Sugar," by Harry Styles
Watermelon is an iconic symbol of summer because its cool, hydrating, and sweet flesh paired with the tart rind layer is about as refreshing as it gets on a hot summer day. So, it's no surprise that Harry Styles's song, Watermelon Sugar, has become such an instant and unforgettable hit.
7. "Dynamite," by David Stewart
The song Dynamite, performed by BTS, is all about fun and making the most of starry summer nights. All the more desirable since the outdoors is one of the only places teens, and young adults can get together. Learn this piece, and you'll make a dynamite impression on your friends.
For the Dedicated Classicist
Afraid to stray too far from your classical training or roots? That's fine too.
8. June "Barcarolle" (from the Seasons), Tchaikovsky
Many composers have paid homage to the seasons. Tchaikovsky is one of them, and his version is set in 12 movements, one for each month. June's "Barcarolle" pays homage to June, and the traditional gondolier's tune originally scored for piano has been beautifully arranged for violin.
9. "Summertime" from "Porgy & Bess," by George Gershwin
This song straddles the world of contemporary and classical music. Written for the opera, "Porgy & Bess," the tune "Summertime" has been arranged in every way possible, including hip-hop and ska genres. It's that type of versatility that makes it ideal for violinists. Once you've learned to play the original version, branch out and try to interpret it your way.
10. "Upon a Summer's Day," John Playford
Talk about a classic! "Upon a Summer's Day" was written by John Playford back in 1651. It is a favorite of string musicians who enjoy playing traditional music on period-specific instruments. However, it also transcends into the contemporary realm because it's easily adapted to folk and bluegrass genres.
Are you as ready for summer break as we are? Download and print these new songs and make them a part of your fun, summertime playing routine.