Taking a break is as important as practicing when playing guitar other musical instruments!
I’m gonna practice guitar just for 10 minutes, or drumming, or keyboard, or playing the bass. Let’s start with a few warm-up exercises. Maybe learn new scales. Then I start studying a new song. Maybe start another song as well? Hmmmm damn tempting. Trying a new setting with my FX module and guitar pedals. Gee, blissful sound. A bit of jamming, improvising, enjoying, floating and walking around in musical chemistry. Everything’s getting blurry. In a sleepy, blissful rush, I suddenly wake up. I look at the clock and wonder WTF is wrong with the universe? How come 4 hours passed in 10 minutes? Does it sound familiar 😉? I speak from experience: once you start playing music you lose track of time … it works like a drug. But still, keep an eye on the clock!
Playing an instrument is physically stressful to your body. Muscles and joints suffer from repetitive and short motions. Playing music is often considered top sports, when it comes to the physical stress. Football, tennis, cycling, … a lot of top athletes had their best years before they were 40. And that’s not without reason. Professional musicians have also had their physical best years after playing for an average of about 30 years. Of course, some people will never experience health problems, and others will get it faster. That’s why I think it’s very important for starting musicians pointing out a correct attitude and taking of their body.
Don’t underestimate this! I think it’s extremely important: give your head and brain a quiet time! Have you ever noticed that you’re practicing, and the longer you practice, the worse it gets? Mental overload … your mind also needs a break sometimes. So when you take a break, do something other than something with music. Sometimes it is even better to stop practicing for that day when you get stuck. The next day, after a good sleep, you will notice that your guitar playing is progressing way better.
Your ears are getting tired as well! This is especially noticeable when you work with certain effects, such as chorus, reverb, etc, where the hearing begins to get used to and the “effect” of the effects disappears. Playing permanently at the same sound level, even though the volume is low, also works very tiring. When you take a break, allow your ears some rest too. Don’t listen to music or don’t start making phone calls during your break. Preferably you listen to completely different sounds, and possibly sit in a different room or environment. For example, when I work in the studio and do mixing or so, I regularly go outside in the garden. Just to give my hearing rest by listening to natural ambient sounds – listen to just the wind, the rain, birds, trees or even cars passing by.
Set your alarm clock!
Make sure you get enough rest regularly! Never practice for more than an hour without a break. The rule for me is: one hour of training = 50 minutes of practice + 10 minute break – getting up, moving, eating/drinking something, doing stretching exercises. Do you experience pain while playing a musical instrument? Headache, neck pain, elbows, shoulders, back pain, knees? Numbness in your fingers, or tingling sensation? Then stop practicing and consult a specialist. Never play through the pain. About this subject, I wrote a blog article earlier: No pain no gain? Idiots only!
Also during performances: take a “break”!
Two-hour performances are an attack on your body. Of course, you can’t just take a real break by interrupting the show, but create a playlist with rests for every musician, guitar, drum, vocals, bass etc: play less stressful songs in between with more open strings for the guitarist, or maybe there is a song you don’t play or play less, or a slower song, use a capo to avoid barre chords. Play an instrumental song and allow the vocalist a break. Play an acoustic song without the drums. Also a personal tip against among guitarists – during performances I avoid as many barre chords as possible. I replace them, if possible, with the typical Jimi Hendrix fingering. Sounds the same and is less stressful for my joints!
Note that I’m writing these blog articles from my personal experience, my point of view and my personal opinion. If you don’t agree with me, that’s OK! Personal opinions is what makes every human unique. Feel free leaving a comment or your vision about this subject on the HYBR!D PARK forum!
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Baustein aka Manic Youth
Photo credits : Pexels felipe-borges, rushay-booysen