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4 Times When You Can Skip Practising

No matter what you play, how long you’ve been playing, or where you are in your career, you’ve certainly been told that you need to practice. It’s true that practice makes progress. You can’t grow without it, and it’s essential to accomplish any of your musical goals. However, sometimes it’s okay to call it quits for the day (or the week). Here is your guilt-free list of reasons when and why it’s okay to take a break.

1. You’re in pain

No, not emotional pain from practising chromatic exercises for the 6th hour in a row. We’re talking about physical, potentially damaging, pain. Depending on your instrument, various kinds of pain can arise from overplaying or from playing with improper technique. If you’re experiencing any kinds of bad pain in your arms, chest, fingers, jaw, voice, etc., stop. Take a break, let yourself heal, and speak with your teacher or a colleague about what you might be doing incorrectly. Sometimes a simple posture or technique fix can help relieve pain and future damage.

2. You are mentally and physically exhausted

Everyone gets busy and tired, but if you are feeling absolutely drained, exhausted, and burned out, then it’s okay to take a day off. Don’t let your desire for a perfect practice record overshadow common sense; if you are too tired to make good decisions or practice intelligently, you could be doing yourself more harm than good. Exhausted but still want to practice? Do some long tones, slow exercises, and spend some time listening to your favourite music.

3. You can’t make noise at the moment

This is a valid excuse, sometimes. Living in a very un-soundproof apartment? Don’t have access to practice rooms? Practising at 2 am is not always an option.

Here are your alternatives:

  • Get a silent mute (for brass instruments) for those nights when you need to jam
  • Drummers, consider an electronic kit for practice purposes
  • Be proactive about scheduling out your day so you don’t run into any last-minute practice crises
  • Listen to your music (with headphones) and play along silently
  • Spend time away from your instrument. You can listen, compose, arrange, transcribe, or visualise your next performance.

4. You’re uninspired

At first, this might seem like a terrible excuse. However, we’ve all been there, and we understand. When you’re uninspired, bored, hating your music, and dragging your feet to make progress, the answer isn’t always ploughing through the same old routine and exercises.

Take a day off and reconnect to why you started your musical journey. Listen to some of your old favourite pieces of music. Watch videos or listen to recordings of your most proud musical accomplishments. Explore outside of your musical comfort zone and reach for new ideas and inspirations. Make a list of accomplishments you want to achieve in the next month, 6 months, and year. Look at the bigger picture and understand that mindlessly practising the same tired routine every day might not get you to your goals. Speak with your teacher about switching up your routine or chat with friends about how they stay excited. You’ll be back to the practice room in no time, and you’ll be inspired, excited, and making loads of great progress.