Practicing: Taking Breaks is Healthy

posted Dec 29, 2009, 8:03 PM by Joyce Kouffman   [ updated Jul 22, 2016, 9:36 AM by Tony Phillips ]
In this first practicing tips post, I will, ironically, talk about the importance of stepping away from one's instrument or composing. With cooking, we can't watch it cook. We step away. It is the same with music learning. If we were to analyze the complexity of music practice and learning, we would easily become overwhelmed. How many systems of the body are involved - nervous, muscular, circulatory, skeletal, glandular, and probably others - and how do they all work together to produce a performance of Bach? This is so far beyond computers that even our body and mind know to take breaks and we just need to stop and let it all cook. By itself. This is especially true after a number of days or weeks or intensive, conscious practicing. Also, if playing your instrument is the delicious treat it can always be, who wants to eat strawberry shortcake Every night? Unfortunately, professional musicians are often under a lot of time pressure to learn music quickly and perfectly as part of their full-time work. They don't have time to take breaks. They really don't. In this case, even a diversion into some moments of free improvisation or composing a song for a friend can be equivalent to a break or a change from "work" music. The idea is to maintain the love affair and romance of and with your instrument(s) to remain a musician who is grateful and proud, everyday, to live every minute in Music.