It’s a no-brainer, you practice, then you take a break, right? True, but, even that process of taking breaks can be improved upon and hence make your practice session significantly more effective.
How you take those breaks, the spirit in which you take breaks and at what intervals all plays into how much you will get out of your practice routine.
This is because when you take a break your mind continues to process. Post-practice routine suggestions include anything that is relaxing and enjoyable to you, with one exception: anything that involves screens. Just give yourself a bit of a buffer before you pull out that phone or dial up that Facebook page. Screen-related activities tend to be too stimulating to allow the mind to process what you just practiced so hard.
Celebrate! It creates habit!
But it is not only very important to let the material settle uninterrupted by new things that flash by, it is equally important to high five yourself, congratulate yourself, celebrate! That little act of showing pride and self appreciation makes it so much easier to practice next time because you are connecting “having done it” with a good feeling! BJ Fogg of Stanford Persuasion lab says: It is not repetition that creates habit – good feelings do! You have the power to create a good feeling after you practiced. Do it! You earned it!
Down on Yourself? I get it… but…
It is super important to give yourself credit even if you think you did not do so well. Or you have doubts in your abilities or the process itself. It is crucial you celebrate anyways because it not only helps you build the practicing habit, it also makes your learning more effective. The old saying “whether you think you can or you think you can’t, either way you will be right” is true: If you tell your mind that you just learned something, did okay… it primes your brain to keep learning. Try this for size:
- I s#ck. I will never get this. It is too hard.
- I got a little closer today; actually, I am on the path; hey, I got this.
From my own experience I know how hard it can be to get into the habit to accept a more supportive stance toward our own learning. Fake it til you make it. It does get easier with time!
Lastly: You did what you set out to do
You set out to do something and you followed through! Especially in today’s world of distraction this is no small feat at all. So even if the feeling of pride or non-s#cking is hard for you to accept, enjoy the fact that you just proved to the world that you actually did what you said you would do!
You did something for yourself. Yey!
It is sometimes regarded as a negative – to do something for ourselves. Isn’t that selfish? My guess is that music takes a very special place in your hear; it is something you truly love (even if it takes discipline, is not always easy or perfect etc).
Here is a metaphor how I view this: In the airplane we are instructed to put the oxygen mask on ourselves first and on others after we have secured ours. A focused half hour of practice in the spirit of supporting yourself, doing what you set out to do, and taking it so seriously that you give it a proper break afterwards – it seems like your “oxygen”, metaphorically speaking. Likely it will make you happier and better for all you support. Plus, in the article I mention doling out hugs as a good post-practice routine, so this may just be alright with everyone.
Read the article on notreble here and click the thumbnail below to download the graphic on how to take breaks effectively!
When you take a break (correctly), you may just get a break! Please comment below.
4 Replies to “Efficient Practice Hacks – How to Take Breaks”
Good points! It may just be the old hippie in me, but in so many of our old bands where we lived together, rehearsed together, and ate together. The no-brainer for me when it comes time to break from learning a new song is to head to the kitchen and cook something. The art of cooking and sharing life and a meal connects a great deal with the art of sharing a song and life. My 2 cts.
Great comment!! If you have that opportunity, that’s greatest band practice of all, to shed together, then cook and eat together. And cooking is great for letting the song simmer and stew in your mind, pardon the pun.
For me, after a solo practice session I do a complete body stretch routine (about 5 minutes worth) before grabbing a healthy snak and drink. However, after a full-on band rehearsal/gig, I cannot wait to get home, Take a shower, put on comfortable clothes, perform about a 15 minute stretch routine, eat a complete meal, and then take a power nap. While I try to stay as relaxed as possible while playing, a full-on rehearsal/gig is where I give it all; relaxed focused intensity of mind, mechanics, and respect for the material and band members. It’s a borderline spiritual moment. Give-take, ebb-flow. The fun is in those moments of being in the moment.
What a great comment and routine, Eric. And your last sentence is a great reminder!