When the world shut down in March 2020, that included music venues and groups. Now that things are starting to return to normal (at least in the US), you may need to start practicing after a break from playing.
But how should you go about it? What if you haven’t touched your instrument in a year? You can get back into practicing after a break, whether that break lasted a week or a year.
Before I share my tips for getting back into practicing, this post contains affiliate links. Click here for my full disclosure policy.
Take It Slowly
When you first start practicing after a break from your instrument, you may want to get back into it full force. However, you should start small and go slowly.
Even if you used to practice for hours a day, you may not be able to right off the bat. Whether you took a break to recover from surgery or because of a pandemic, give yourself time to get back into playing.
Start with 10-minute sessions a few times a day. Then, move to playing for 20 minutes, then 30 minutes. Work up to a normal practice session slowly so that you don’t overwork yourself.
Start With the Fundamentals
When it comes to what to practice after a break, start with the fundamentals of your instrument. For example, flute players can review books like Moyse De La Sonorite or Taffanel & Gaubert Daily Exercises.
You can practice tone, technique, and scales to get back into the swing of playing. If you play a string instrument, you can practice double-stops. Pianists can practice the Hanon exercises and playing chords.
To make things even more interesting, look for a new fundamentals book. I don’t know about other instruments, but there are TONS of flute books. If you get something new, you can learn a little bit as you review your fundamentals.
Find Something Fun
While you should play fundamentals, you don’t need to make practicing after a break all boring. Look for some fun music to play, whether that’s a classical piece or something rock or pop.
Having something fun to play gives you something to look forward to. You can learn to play a favorite song or find something new. One piece I love to play when I want something classical yet fun is Syrinx by Debussy.
If I’m more interested in playing pop or rock that day, I’ll go to a flute blog that shares the notes for popular songs you hear on the radio. There’s a decent backlog of songs, so you can find stuff from a few years ago.
Look for Opportunities
Sometimes, playing for yourself can be great. But it can also be hard to motivate yourself to play when you don’t have a rehearsal or performance coming up. So you can look for some opportunities.
Find some community groups in your area that have spots for people on your instrument. I’ve been part of community orchestras and flute choirs, and they’re a great way to perform.
You can also look for solo performance opportunities, such at local churches. I’m not religious, but I do enjoy performing in a Sunday service occasionally. It can be a great way to get performance experience and make a little money.
Now, with the pandemic, you have to do what makes you comfortable. If you don’t want to play with others in person, look for some online opportunities, like Virtual Concert Band.
As you start practicing after a break, you have to be honest with yourself. If you haven’t played in months, you probably won’t be at quite the playing level you were before you took a break.
Give yourself some slack as you get back into practicing. You can get back to your prior playing level with time and consistency. It may be frustrating now, but you did it once, so you can do it again.
You also have to be realistic with your schedule, especially after a major life change. When you graduate from music school, you probably won’t have as much time to practice as you used to. And that’s okay!
Listen to Your Body
Another crucial part of practicing after a break or whenever is to listen to your body. Your practice endurance may have dropped, and you may no longer be as used to putting your body in the position necessary to play.
For example, playing the flute is very asymmetrical. If you aren’t used to holding something off to the right, you may feel uncomfortable at first. And you may even experience some pain after practicing for a while.
Be sure to stop playing when you have any pain or discomfort. While it may be okay, you don’t want to injure yourself and require a longer practice break.
How Will You Start Practicing After a Break?
Getting back into practicing after a break isn’t easy. But it’s necessary if you want to play music, either for fun or professionally.
It doesn’t matter if you took a break for a few weeks or a few months. You may need time to get back to your prior playing level. So be sure to review those fundamentals and be patient with yourself.
Do you need more guidance as you get back into practicing?
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