Break time or practice time??

Winter break is upon us.  If you’re a high school or college student you are probably sipping some egg nog, hanging with your folks, and generally enjoying some time off from the business of the semester.

You SHOULD relax a bit, and you SHOULD spend some time with your family, of course.  But after a few days of that you should get back in the practice room.  Think of it this way: most college students get nearly a month off for Winter Break and over three months off in the summer.  So that’s four months a year.  If you take all of that time off every year that means that by the time you reach the end of your four-year degree program you’ve lost over an ENTIRE YEAR of practicing.  Wow!  That’s a lot of time!

Of course, many of you have to work during this time to earn money to pay for school.  Do what you gotta do, but find time for a couple hours of practice each day.  When I was in school I used these periods of time to go deeper into things I didn’t have time for in the normal semester.  That might be drumset or tabla or maybe glock excerpts, but whatever it was, I kept studying and growing and learning.  Nothing has changed.  Here I am in the middle of my life and as soon as I turned in grades last week I made a bee-line for the marimba and started practicing some material that I had been itching to play.

Being a musician is a life style, not a career.  It truly is a 24/7 life.  Look at any successful musician from any style and you’ll see that s/he works hard all the time.  As 50-Cent once said in an interview: “It’s always a hustle.”

About macdonaldp

Musician and Filmmaker
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1 Response to Break time or practice time??

  1. Bill Arnold says:

    Great thoughts! Breaks can be tough on my practice habit because the normal routine is changed. I normally practice at school, so being on a break throws everything off. I think harnessing the power of habit is important to build a consistent, and therefore successful, practice routine. That means using triggers, like a specific time of day and a specific place, etc. That gets disrupted when something like a winter break comes along.

    As you say, it’s good to take a little time off and rejuvenate. I think it’s also good to have a specific, written down plan for how you will practice when you’re away from school. It doesn’t have to be elaborate…even if you just jot it down in the back of a notebook it’ll help to cement your plan in place. Also, as always, I think it’s a good idea to prioritize practice time by scheduling it early in the day. This way, when your friends get up and want to go out, you may already be done!

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