Thursday, July 14, 2011

Top 10 Practice Tips: Take a Break (6 of 10)

I've been around classical musicians at college conservatories long enough to know the number one way to derail a quickly progressing music career: practicing too much. That's right. I've said it. But it's not exactly what you think. The real issue is not how much one practices, but for how long one practices without taking a break. The rule of thumb that I follow myself, and that I have been instructed to follow by my own college professors was five minutes off for every 35 minutes of practicing - no matter what.

It's important to remember, too, that I'm not just talking about rehearsing, because we all know that at least a third of the time in rehearsal we guitarists probably aren't playing. In a jazz big band setting, for example, guitarists are lucky to play 50% of the time. What I'm talking about with the 5:35 is 35 minutes of sustained practice: scales, chords, arpeggios, finger-picking technique, etc.

Don't over-do it, and don't think you're invincible. I've seen a ton of string players lose weeks of playing time because they aren't following a strict diet of break-taking during rigorous practice sessions.

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