Practice Tip of the Week:
Take Frequent Breaks

There is a myth among musicians that the best progress is made
by locking yourself in a room and playing straight for two to
four hours.

This is a fantasy.

Let’s take a look at reality.

First, the physical positions we put our bodies in to play most
musical instruments are not exactly normal. It can be difficult
or even painful to play for hours on end.

Second, most people can’t concentrate for long periods of time.
And, a high level of focus is needed for breakthroughs to happen.

If you want both to keep your focus and to stay healthy, you should
take frequent breaks during practicing.

How often should you take a break? Many teachers recommend a break
after 30 minutes of playing. The truth is, there is no perfect,
one-size-fits-all rule for everyone.

But, it is clear that most musicians would benefit from taking
breaks far more frequently than they naturally do.

And, how long should a break be? Again, there is no definitive
rule. A 5-minute break seems to work successfully for many musicians.

Breaks are important for avoiding repetitive-use injuries, back pain,
and many other common afflictions. Breaks also give you an opportunity
to clear your mind before moving onto another practice item. (For
instance, going from technical exercises to repertoire.)

Breaks can even help your ability to focus. For instance, if you are
worrying about a voicemail or text message while playing, you are
probably not at your peak practicing level. Your lack of concentration
will make your practicing much less efficient.

Here are some possible activities for your break time:

· Drink some water so you stay hydrated and maybe even have a
small snack.

· Stretch your muscles and walk. Some musicians even like running
in place to get their heart pumping a bit faster.

· If you have been standing, sit. If you have been sitting, stand.

· If you feel hot, soak your hands in cool water. If you’re cold,
soak your hands in warm water.

· Read that text message. Quickly return a phone call. Take care
of any small demand on your time so you will be able to fully
concentrate on your playing after your break.

When you return to your instrument after a short break, you will be
focused, refreshed, and ready to learn more music!

To Your Musical Success!

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