The demands of daily music practice, especially before an important performance or audition, can have a significant effect on us. Professional musicians are likely to have spent their lives structuring rehearsal time into their day to day lives. However, overreaching with practice sessions is an issue that many have to face. It is all too easy to let an important score consume your time and thoughts, on top of the stresses of day to day life. Practice is all about balance, which means that just like with sports, musicians must focus on recovery training just as much as active training. Musicians need to take care of themselves as practicing too hard can lead to bad nutrition, lack of hydration and disrupted sleep, which will lead to bad performance results. It’s a vicious cycle – here are Fusion Bag’s four signs that you’re practicing too hard.
If you have started to notice that you are feeling apathetic, unmotivated, cranky and irritable at the thought of picking up your instrument. It’s likely you’ve gone overboard on your practice in recent days or weeks. Being unable to achieve a complex section of a piece could have you experiencing intense feelings of bubbling rage. Or practicing with your ensemble colleagues may be enough for you to want to lash out. These are signs that you are pushing yourself too hard. With a negative attitude, you will never achieve a productive practice session.
As a musician, playing your instrument is supposed to be something that brings you joy. If playing is beginning to feel harder and more effort than usual, it’s likely to have been overdoing it. You may feel like this for an extended period of time. If playing your instrument has turned into a frustrating chore, it’s highly likely that you haven’t got the work and recovery balance right. Even when practicing for an important audition or performance, playing your instrument should not feel like an internal struggle.
In the past, taking a day off from practice would leave you feeling refreshed and prepared to play again. However, you may have noticed that it is taking you longer to recover from periods of intense playing. Your muscles may be sore and your body may just be generally feeling very unresponsive. If you don’t seem to be recovering from concentrated practice periods, this is usually a sign you need to reduce your practice amounts.
One of the most obvious signs is that you simply cannot play as well as you normally do. You are likely to experience a gradual decrease in quality as time goes by. It’s likely that this will lead you to want to practice even more, when in reality you should be practicing less. Poor performance doesn’t necessarily mean that you are not trying hard enough. Very often it can mean exactly the opposite, meaning that taking a well-deserved break is likely to be the best way to get back on track.