Ooh yes, indeed! Time for a rest! At the end of the year – our summer holidays here in Australia, your mid-winter holidays up there in the northern hemisphere – it’s a good time to have a well-earned rest. Time, perhaps for a rest from all the hard work, all that hard practice you’ve been putting into your guitar playing over the preceding 12 months.
Why take a rest? You always say consistent practice is the way to improve!
Yes, it most definitely is. But so is pacing yourself and knowing that it’s important to rest every now and then. I’m not talking about taking a month long sabbatical away from your instrument (gosh, I’m not sure I could go that long without playing!) but a week or two will be good for you. In fact, I tend to aim for two or three points in the year where I have at least a week long break from playing.
(1) Seeing the woods for the trees
Well, when you’re so close to something all the time as intensely as we guitar nutcases tend to be with our guitars, you can loose the woods for the trees. Our hyper-focus on certain aspects of our playing, pieces, exercises and so on can mean we sometimes loose a bit of perspective. We can obsess over those aspects, sometimes even to the point of impacting it negatively.
Taking time out can help regain that perspective. You might be surprised coming back after a break that a wee knot or issue in a piece that you’ve been having seems a lot less challenging or actually a complete non-issue.
(2) Resting is where our brain and body get to work
Taking a rest is a bit like having slaved away in a hot kitchen for hours cooking up a big stew or curry and then leaving it……… The recipe tastes pretty good immediately when you’ve finished making it, but leave it to simmer, stew and to rest and it then tastes phenomenal.
Something a little bit like that (well, kind of) happens when we take a rest from our practice. I’m not sure of the precise neurological processes that happen, but it seems as if the brain has the time to subconsciously shift through, sort out and sieve through everything we’ve been teaching it and practicing. It then takes the best bits and pushes that forwards for some tasty musical goodness. Well, you know, not every time, but that depends how you’ve been practicing!
(3) Getting past that plateau
Sometimes we may feel like we’re stuck in a bit of a rut with our playing, like we’re plateauing or not making the improvements we’ve previously made or would like to make. Well, taking some time out can help – just like an athlete taking a rest from training – in rest, recovery and rebuilding, both physically and mentally.
If you’ve hit a bit of a mental plateau, kind of a bit tired and a little uninspired with your playing, don’t forget the old saying that absence makes the heart grow fonder. After a wee break, just like a holiday from work, you’ll come back refreshed, ready to work and take things to new heights.