Have you ever found yourself in a position where you were incredibly inspired to practice more than usual? Have you compared practice sheets with your musician friends, in an age old competition of who brought more practice hours in this week? Do you enjoy playing your instrument daily but haven’t had proper instruction on how to position yourself ergonomically? If the answer is ‘Yes’ then you have likely stumbled upon the problem of practice fatigue. So: what to do when your fingers hurt, hands ache, and the back just isn’t holding up anymore?
Typically when fatigue symptoms appear it is usually already late in the game and you have played a bit too much. The best thing to do then is to just take a break. It is very important to anticipate your body not being able to handle lengthier periods of time sitting down or standing in an awkward position with your instruments, so observe the symptoms and tackle them before they happen.
The practice session should be separated into parts. It is said that after each 40 minutes we should take some time off, and either walk around, or do simple stretches tackling the sore spots. Quick 5-10 min YouTube yoga sessions are totally a thing, and a very easy getaway from a rigid position when practicing, allowing you to return to a practice routine fresh and revived.
When fatigue symptoms appear it is usually already late in the game!
It seems it should be common knowledge, but we do often tend to forget to hydrate. How many times have you found yourself so enamored by the music, that you forgot about all the livelihood’s necessities, including drinking water? When dehydrated, the muscles tend to cramp more, providing for a less than relaxed practice session and more opportunity for rigidness. Make sure you always have a glass of water next to your music stand!
Breathing relaxes us, and provides focus. When we are catching our phrases, or frantically trying to make that passage work, we often find ourselves holding the breath in. A few consecutive repeats of such action, and lightheadedness comes around before you know it. So: no matter the difficulty of passagework, remember to always have a relaxed, continuous breathing.
Another thing that is often overlooked is that music has breaks between phrases, and we can use those breaks to remind ourselves to relax our muscles. This has to be a conscientious practice though, because it is active relaxation that one should go after, where we clearly tell our body that it is time to take a chill moment. Those moments build stamina and longevity, which we want in order to be able to play our instrument for a long time.
Thank you for reading this short article. We hope that you found the few tips useful. Now, go practice! 😉