I also call the idea of breathing space, “stewing room”. Marginally less poetic perhaps, but it’s the analogy I’m going for (and you’ll probably see that I’m on fire with those today) When you make a fantastic stew or curry or spag bol or chuck-it-all-in-one-pot type dinner, it somehow tastes even better the following day when all the flavours have had time to sit and stew and infuse and meld and mix to create a fabulous rich taste explosion. Well, so it is (I think anyway; don’t rely on me here) with our music making. Allowing the time and space – the stewing room – for all those elements we’ve been working on in a piece to come together can produce some wonderful results…… It’s a bit like taking a step back to see the woods for the trees. If we’re constantly working away at the detail and only occasionally looking up we’re not really coming back to our work with (a) worked in ideas being embedded and growing within us, (b) fresh eyes, ears or minds to new possibilities or even things that were patently obvious, (c) seeing what we’ working on as a whole or (d) enjoying the work as much (absence makes the heart grow fonder as they say!). It’s also a bit like when you’re trying think of the name of something and it’s on the tip of your tongue…you can see the object/place/person in your mind’s eye, but you just can’t think of the bloody name! How often does the answer come to you when you’re not not trying to think about it? The act of trying so hard to do something can stymie our efforts. We need to give our wee brains the chance to sort through the info, make the connections and send it to where the information is needed. Another analogy. Top athletes train very hard at their particular sport – long runs, sprint efforts, lifting weights, game play drills and so on. However, one of the most important parts of their training is the rest time. The down time between training, spent sleeping, relaxing or some other diversion away from their main activities is when the body and brain makes its adaptions. It goes through a process kind of like “sheeesh, I hope she doesn’t make me do that again, but just in case I want to make it a little easier for myself next time so I’ll repair this muscle with a bit extra fibre or make sure that neural connection is further solidified to make that movement easier”. Rather loosely, it’s similar with us as guitarists and musicians. So cut yourself some slack and make time for breathing space.
Not too much though! I like to give myself one day completely away from the guitar once per week or per fortnight, depending on what I’ve got on. This might be a day when the office job has been particularly busy – it gives me a chance to refresh, reset, reinvigorate, and those ideas, concepts and movements to sinks into the brain and muscles. Have a think about it. But not too much!