After traveling with the World Percussion Group and performing at the Yamaha Young Performing Artist Concert this summer, I did not touch an instrument for TWO MONTHS.
I was burnt out.
Some people think this is crazy, but I couldn’t be happier.
Here are some of my thoughts on taking time off, in both the long and short term…
LONG TERM — ALL IN & ALL OUT
For me, the two months I took off (end of June-end of August) represent taking time off in the long term. The end of last semester pushed me to my limits, between a performance jury, guest recital, finals, and desperately cramming notes for the World Percussion Group (WPG) tour.
I was absolutely spent, and it became clear that I needed time to myself.
I considered taking a week, maybe two weeks at most, to avoid touching an instrument or worrying about anything music-related. I figured that once I began working at my internships (posts about those are forthcoming), I would have a few spare hours a day to hop on a marimba or leisurely learn some notes for this year.
Wow. I was wrong.
The work piled on, and at the same time I was working anywhere from 4-10 hours a day on the development of my personal brand. I quickly realized that practicing would take away from this important branding work that I was doing, and I decided that focusing 100% of my energy on it would yield the best result.
I would call this going ALL IN.
At the same time, I was ALL OUT in terms of my musical development in the practice room. The funny part? I don’t think I ever questioned if I was doing the right thing. After feeling absolutely drained from the semester/start of summer, I knew I needed a big change. This was the first time I had ever done something like this, and it will definitely happen again.
Plus, by the end of the two months, I was ITCHING to get back in the practice room.
SIDE NOTE: I planned out my repertoire for this year over the summer, which I think is just as important as clearing your head with time off. Having a clear picture of everything I was going to learn this year/all of my performance dates has allowed me to effectively manage my time. This will definitely be another entry at a later date.
SHORT TERM — A DAY HERE, A DAY THERE…
That last one was long-winded. I’ll keep this one shorter!
I talked about being ALL IN or ALL OUT above, and I think this applies to the short term as well.
Yesterday, I took the entire day off from practicing. I call this a few things:
- A “Work” Day (practicing doesn’t feel like “work” anymore, which is nice)
- A “Get-my-life-together” Day (self-explanatory)
- A “Lazy” Day (not practicing always makes me feel lazy)
Basically, I sat there and taped mallets, sent emails, studied music theory, and worked on a couple of grant proposals, just so my life doesn’t fall apart (dramatic, yes) this coming week.
Overall though, yesterday was essential to my short-term success (the next week/month), which will factor into my long-term success (the next 1-10 years).
If you think this way, giving up a day in the practice room doesn’t feel so bad — it feels necessary.
SIDE NOTE: I completely understand the idea of “YOU NEED TO PLAY EVERY DAY NO MATTER WHAT.” It makes perfect sense in terms of consistency and routine, and if that’s how you operate, more power to you. I encourage you to hit your own stride in this area, and that comes by trying new things.
Alright, that’s all for now. Shoot me an email, Facebook message, or comment below if you have any thoughts!