Vol. 1 | No. 12 | By Grecia Melendez
Musicians are constantly practicing to maintain and improve their skills on their musical instrument. From student to professional, practice is necessary to keep up with their projects and development. Without the proper care for breaks, it is easy to face frustration, exhaustion, and burnout. Over time, you could face performance health challenges that affect your physical and mental well-being.
Physical Break: To prevent injury
When practicing, breaks are incredibly important for your own physical health. As musicians, we use a small, unique set of muscles to help us perform. If we overuse those muscles, we could potentially injure ourselves and affect our performance health. Breaks allow for not only a mental reset but a time to literally rest our physical bodies before continuing. This is comparable to how athletes train and take the appropriate rest time before continuing with their routines. In your practice breaks, you can include some stretches and light walking to loosen and relax those muscles in use. This is a great habit to have to prevent any sort of stress, tension, and potential injuries.
Mental Break: Recharge
Whether you’re a beginner or a professional, it is important to take breaks throughout your practice sessions. Even if you feel like you don’t need a break, it is good to have one just to reset your mind. It helps to have a small distraction so that once you come back into the practice session, you come back refreshed and refocused. If you don’t allow for breaks in your practice, you could end up getting frustrated when you can’t get through a technical passage, or you just don’t like how the practice is going. Some musicians take a 5-minute break or 1 minute break. It all depends on how long you’re practicing. Finding a way to keep your breaks proportional to how long you intend to practice can help you have a more focused and efficient practice session.
Outside of the practice session, it’s good to take a day off, especially if you’re busy, to allow yourself some time to recharge and rest from daily practice. Music is great, but to make great music, you need to go out and experience life and breaks help you do that. Sometimes you may have seasons where you’re busy and can’t take a day off. When you have those moments, it's crucial to take mindful and purposeful breaks in between practice sessions. It’s good to plan to take a few days off when you see your busy season coming to an end. It’s easy to get wrapped up in the idea of needing to practice everyday all the time, however, it’s incredibly important to have a rest day every now and then to explore other interests and unwind from the daily routine. This will benefit you in the long run by letting you be happier and more focused in your practice as well as prevent burnout. Breaks are important for your well-being in any aspect of life, including your role as a musician. With mindfulness, you can take some steps towards being intentional with your rest periods to lead towards an effective practice and happier life.