Why You Shouldn’t Practice Over the Holidays (and 3 Things to Do Instead)

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“Don’t practice over the holidays!”
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That’s something all my students would love to hear me say. Unfortunately for many of them, it’s the best time to get some concentrated work done. Finals are over, recitals are coming up, and they must practice.

But for the rest of us, the holidays are the time to chill out, push “pause,” relax, and yes, NOT practice.

The reasons are obvious enough. Rest is important. We need to refresh our bodies, minds and spirits. We need to let the noise and clutter in our minds settle down so we can reconnect with what we love: our families, our friends and the music that is such an important part of who we are.

We need time to regain our perspective, to get out of the trees and take the eagle’s eye view of the forest. It’s time to review the past year, to plan for the next and to rediscover our joy and our energy.

If we continue to practice as usual at this crucial time, we can get stuck in our work routine and lose this most important opportunity to reflect and revitalize. So don’t practice!

But that’s not to say you don’t have work to do. Here are the three things I will be doing over the holidays to help me move into the new year with real momentum:

1. I will sort out my music. It’s time to clean up the piles that have accumulated over the last few weeks and put it all in its proper place. I love doing this because I always come across a piece I was meaning to re-learn or music I bought but haven’t tried yet. This leads directly to Sep 2…

2. I will play, not practice.  This is my favorite time, when I can just sit at the harp and simply make music. I read through pieces that are old friends and try out new music. I play music I love, not worrying if it’s note perfect or even very good.  For instance, I will read through recital pieces from past seasons. They will be VERY rough, but they’re fun to play again. Sometimes I play very easy music, just because it’s beautiful and I love it.

3. I will make three goals for the coming year. The first is to pick a new piece to learn, one that’s not very difficult but one that I will love to play and audiences will love to hear. The second is to select a “stretch” piece, one that will be a challenge. And the third goal is to pick one technical or musicianship skill to sharpen during the year.

What can you do instead of practice?

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