The Importance of Taking Breaks: put down your guitar and go for a walk!

Rob Reid out for a walk in Newfoundland (apparently this beautiful setting is the norm!)

 

This is a guest post by guitarist Rob Reid

Make sure to also check out Rob’s site Classical Guitar Training and his youtube channel for more tips and explorations.

Hi Everyone,

So this is going to be one of those articles where I probably should be practicing more of what I preach but believe me I do try and get out and and exercise as much as possible. I’m talking about putting down the guitar and going out for a walk, and believe me, once I started looking at walking/exercise as an important part of my classical guitar practice it got much easier.

Before I go any further, this isn’t going to be one of those “walking is good for you so go do it” sermons…

But of course, there are the obvious health benefits of going for a walk: it’s good for your heart, good for your posture (especially if you’re sitting behind a guitar 3-4 hours per day), joints, muscles and overall well being.

All of this alone should be more than enough reason to get out and walk for at least 45 minutes every day but that’s not really what I wanted to focus on in this article.

For me, the most important part of getting out and going for a walk as a musician and artist is the time it gives my brain to go over and process all of the information I’ve been thinking through during my practice sessions. It also gives me a great opportunity to come up with even more ideas and work through pieces mentally which, a lot of the time, can be just as effective (if not more) than working on the piece with the guitar in hand.

Of course the whole time you’re doing this, you’re also breathing better and generally more ‘alive’. While you’re outside using all of your body you can make a huge difference in your overall growth as a musician, that is, if you use this time wisely.

I don’t think it’s any coincidence that when you read or listen to interviews by some of the most famous guitarists and musicians they all extoll the benefits of going for a walk. Segovia had it worked into his daily routine. Bream mentions going for many long walks in lots of interviews.  Pablo Cassals was a big walker as referenced in his excellent autobiography.

One of the best things I’ve noticed is the inspiration being outdoors provides for my pieces – something you’re just not going to get while stuck indoors! Sunsets, animals, clouds, traffic, a homeless guy, a drunk teenager… You never know when something will resonate!

For this reason I always try to go a different route each time or even drive to a different part of town for some new scenery… this also takes a lot of the boredom out of the whole thing (walking the same 3 blocks every day is as monotonous as sitting in your practice room!). I also love to hike and try and get out into the woods when the weather is nice but as I’ve mentioned there is as much inspiration on a heavily trafficked city street as out in the woods – as long as you’re paying attention!

So don’t think of it as a chore – think of it as practicing the CG which is something we all love to do, right? :)

Happy Playing!

-Rob


An extra word from Bradford:

I’d like to thank Rob Reid for this post and add a few links from the Practicing Musician to supplement his suggestion.

I often tell my students that “it’s not the amount of time you practice but the quality of that practice time that will make you a better guitarist. To understand this I recommend the article: The Difference Between Playing and Practicing. When you start to burn-out practicing go for that walk and return to the guitar with focus and concentration. The goal in the end is to practice well, feel good, and positively affect your skill level as a musician. Also see, Practicing Well: Positive Success Ratios.

Thanks Rob!

Make sure to also check out Rob’s site Classical Guitar Training and his youtube channel for more tips and explorations.

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4 Responses to The Importance of Taking Breaks: put down your guitar and go for a walk!

  1. Jean-François Desrosby May 2, 2012 at 1:20 pm #

    I totally agree with everything written here. I am also personally a big fan of hiking and cycling. Every day, I take a moment to go outside. I encourage all guitarists who read this text to follow this excellent advice.

    Dr. Jean-François Desrosby

  2. Suzy S., TakeLessons May 2, 2012 at 3:38 pm #

    Excellent advice! Too many musicians think they have to lock themselves in a studio for hours on end. I’ve found that taking breaks (walks included!) are a great way to recharge my energy levels and I usually come back with even more focus.

  3. Rob May 4, 2012 at 12:44 pm #

    Thanks for the comments guys :) It’s definitely a no-brainer but we can get easily trapped in our practice rooms all day and forget to look after ourselves! 

  4. Michael Karmon May 19, 2012 at 11:54 am #

    This advice works really nicely for composers as well. I think looking at anything creative from different perspectives is really valuable. And being away from your instrument and musical routine can really encourage your mind to wander (in good ways.)

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