Phillip Phillips Playing the Guitar Again Post-Surgery
06/18/2012 AT 12:05 PM EDT
"I'm getting better each day, so that's a good thing," Phillips, 21, who went under the knife earlier this month to remove kidney stones that were too large to pass, tells Associated Press.
"It was tough, you know, those first few days, but I'm getting to where I can pick the guitar back up and write a little bit."
The Leesburg, Ga., native, who beat out runner-up Jessica Sanchez in last month's emotional finale, will make his return to the stage at this summer's July 4th celebration at the National Mall in Washington, D.C. – his first trip to the capital.
From there, Phillips, who underwent eight operations during his Idol Run, is due to open the American Idols Live! tour in Detroit. The 45-show tour runs through October.