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Practice and resting
#3053142 12/05/20 05:25 AM
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Being playing the piano for several years in a very focused way, i have realized the importance of taking some days out in a while to let body and mind rest and heal, to avoid injuries and be able to keep the practice going on.

But i really don't have any kind of planning or schedule regarding resting. I just take a day off when i feel i need it, once a week, or once in 10 or 15 days, or i just stop playing when i have some pain (wrist, back, legs, neck, shoulders... you name it) until the pain goes out, wich may take a few days or several months if it is a deep injury (5 months k.o. in 2019, i hope not to repeat again).

I also try to do a little bit of mild sport activity as often as posible to keep body in good shape, not because of vanity but for healthy reasons. I've noticed i play more comfortably.

Some stretching-yoga excercises also help, but regarding those im not really persistent, more on and off.

Do you have a more structured resting schedule? Have you had any teacher that takes this issue seriously and gave you good advice?

(Those of you who are younger than 35 won't understand this thread right now... but don't worry, you'll get there).

Re: Practice and resting
Ubu #3053157 12/05/20 06:39 AM
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I'm a few score and ten years older than 35 right now (well over the hill and into the distant horizon, in fact), but ever since I had my own piano (= ever since I joined PW), I never take rest days from it when I'm at home, even though I'm regularly practicing hard for my monthly recitals (though they went into hibernation since spring due to a spiky bug), averaging three hours a day.

I've never had injuries from piano playing (though I've had lots from my sporting activities, including losing the tip of a pinky), and I've never been told by any of my four teachers to take scheduled rests when I was a student. OK, I was young and ignorant then (or at least, slightly more ignorant than I am now) but my teachers certainly weren't ignorant.....and no serious musician I know of takes scheduled rests.

(What was that quote ascribed to several virtuosi, including Heifetz? - " If I don't practice one day, I know it; two days, the critics know it; three days, the public knows it.")

As for exercise, when I was a student, I was a couch potato, because I couldn't run away from a great white to save my life and couldn't kick (or throw) a balloon, let alone a ball.......though I did have enforced "rest days" because the practice rooms of the high school (and then university) where I did my practicing were closed on Sundays and holidays. Later in life, I did discover my hitherto-undiscovered (modest) sporting abilities, and went on to run a few marathons, climb a few mountains, kayak a few rivers and seas etc - but I can't say any of that helped my piano playing, even though my VO2 max certainly improved, and I looked leaner and meaner.

And I've never knowingly done any stretching (- I fell asleep during the one yoga class I attended) and have not been able to touch the bottom of my shins with straight legs since I was twelve. But when I play the piano, I don't need to touch any part of my body wink .


"I don't play accurately - anyone can play accurately - but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life."
Re: Practice and resting
bennevis #3053165 12/05/20 07:09 AM
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Originally Posted by bennevis
I've never had injuries from piano playing (though I've had lots from my sporting activities, including losing the tip of a pinky)
May I ask you how did it affect your technique?

Re: Practice and resting
Ubu #3053167 12/05/20 07:11 AM
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Originally Posted by Ubu
Do you have a more structured resting schedule? Have you had any teacher that takes this issue seriously and gave you good advice?
I don't have structured resting schedule and I think I haven't heard of any.

Re: Practice and resting
Iaroslav Vasiliev #3053171 12/05/20 07:30 AM
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Originally Posted by Iaroslav Vasiliev
Originally Posted by bennevis
I've never had injuries from piano playing (though I've had lots from my sporting activities, including losing the tip of a pinky)
May I ask you how did it affect your technique?
Since then, I'm no longer able to play 10ths with my RH, even with preparation; and for two years following the frostbite injury, it was painful to play with that finger in certain situations. My RH 4th finger now also stretches slightly further than my pinky, so I re-finger chords etc where necessary.

But luckily, in piano music, it's mainly the LH where chords involving 10ths are required, and my LH hand span is unaffected......though my small hands mean that I can only play LH 10ths with preparation anyway. That's not an excuse for not playing Schumann, Brahms, Rachmaninov etc......so I play them. whistle


"I don't play accurately - anyone can play accurately - but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life."
Re: Practice and resting
Ubu #3053191 12/05/20 09:00 AM
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My repertoire is mostly in the intermediate level. I don't think injury is a concern. I only learn new pieces on days my energy level is up. The days when I'm down I'd be playing familiar pieces half asleep. Like a waltz I learned a few years ago that I can almost play blindfolded.

If I really need a break, I'd be watching a piano techniques video online. I can learn a lot in a good half-hour presentation and doesn't require physical exertion.

Re: Practice and resting
Ubu #3053202 12/05/20 09:35 AM
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Usually I don't play for a few weeks during holidays

I like the feel when you come back fresh to the piano, you hear much more detail of your playing, more sensitive to dynamics and timing. I think it's really helpful to get that fresh hearing a few times per year.


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Re: Practice and resting
Ubu #3053208 12/05/20 10:10 AM
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The Christmas break is a time for fun. Last year when I was with a music group, We played some serious repertoire in a church including a few hymns and "Hallelujah Chorus" from the Handel Messiah.

This year my music lessons with a teacher will continue for 2 more weeks with Zoom before taking a break. And she recommended her students buy a Christmas songbook for easy piano. Many of the pieces like "Joy to the World", "Silent Night", etc. we'd hear every year so the learning curve is minimal. When I go to a party, I'd play an easy piano version of "We Wish You a Merry Christmas" for fun. The past few years I would play violin along with some friends who sang Christmas carols outside people's homes in a neighborhood. Coming from a non-musical family, I'm the only one who always bring holiday cheers playing seasonal tunes even when other people around took music lessons.

As an adult learner, I didn't have the chance of starting music early so I'm always conscious of missing too many practice days. I have enough songbooks from the easiest arrangements out of a Reader's Digest edition to more technical Classical pieces. It's OK to leave technical or advanced pieces for a few weeks after serious practices. For me I'd play pieces at a lower level on down days than doing no practice at all.

Re: Practice and resting
Ubu #3053213 12/05/20 10:17 AM
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I did a piano practice rest for more than 20 years, I am really happy for my piano skills now.

Re: Practice and resting
Ubu #3053215 12/05/20 10:22 AM
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I find resting in between practice sessions very important. Ive found that If I only practice in 30 minute chunks with moderate resting in between, I can go all day! and sometimes in between those 30 minute sessions I study score or compose. Now mind you, that means that practicing will take a much bigger chunk of your day.

I was a runner for a big part of my life before my two knee surgeries (long story), and I find parallels between running and music all the time. In this case, do at least one long day... and one rest day per week.

Another running analogy is that the hardest part is putting on your shoes and getting out the door laugh laugh laugh

Re: Practice and resting
Ubu #3053276 12/05/20 02:05 PM
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I have never had scheduled rest days, however sometimes I am forced to rest due to very busy days (I never notice it helping afterward). My teacher (a veeery good teacher) has never mentioned resting either. I do rest from individual pieces though. Especially now that I have 6 pieces on the go preparing for my ARCT (I don't usually do this, only nearing the exam date).

Of course, this is a well-known practice, in music and athletics. I rotate my pieces around, and after taking a couple of days off on a piece after vigorous practice, I come back to it and it feels much more comfortable (in most cases).

I have never had an injury from piano, and usually am fine to practice every day without getting too tired (However I'm much younger than 35 smile. Then again, I probably don't practice as much as you fellows do (usually 2-4 hrs a day, because of schoolwork and such).


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