I am currently writing this blog post in the San Jose airport, where I am for a layover. I’m writing this post after taking about 5 days off of music. I didn’t practice, I didn’t record any videos, and I didn’t even write down any ideas for any videos (which is huge, as this is something that usually happens multiple times per day, every day).
Taking a break as a musician has always been difficult for me. I think it started around college when I was practicing for 4-8 hours a day and when practice hours really felt like life or death. I HAD to practice that many hours a day. Not only to get my degree, but to compete, perform, keep up with the demands and requirements of a music degree, and to further hone in on my craft. I had to believe that the practice hours were life or death – otherwise there’s no way I could’ve pushed myself to consistently practice that much. :)
Flash forward to present day – I’m not working towards another degree, and I don’t compete anymore..I perform, but only occasionally when I want to. While the choices surrounding music for me are different – the FEELING of needing to go, go, go, is still there.
I find that this comes up a lot for the people that I’m working with as well. Piano players ask questions like:
Is it ok to start a piece and then take a break from it?
Is it ok to start an individual practice session and then take breaks during the practice session?
Is it ok to start learning how to play the piano and then take a break?
Is it ok to take a few days or weeks off from practicing and not lose all of my progress?
Is it ok to get burnt out on a difficult piece and opt to take an extended break from it so that you can revisit it at a later point?
The answer to all of these questions is YES! YES! YES!
You can absolutely start a piece and then take a break from it – or even abandon it completely. There is no reason to learn pieces that you don’t want to learn. I would say that *occasionally* there is an exception – like if you are working towards a degree in music and you HAVE to learn something from a certain time period in order to fulfill a requirement. But even then I would argue that there is such a vast amount of repertoire in the world, you can probably find sometihng you at least like.
Please take breaks during your practice sessions! I talk a LOT about this in my videos about time management (like this one) – but breaks are essential in the process of learning. Our brains can only process so much information at a time.
If you start to learn piano, and then decide to take a break, no – you will not forget everything you learned :) YOu might have to back track a little bit – or take a few steps back, but most often, people retain at least some of what they learned.
What I’ve learned about taking days or weeks off of practicing the piano is that it usually does a WORLD OF GOOD. When we have time and space from something, it gives us the opportunity to miss it. It also gives our brains a chance to create new pathways and for our subconscious to process complex information. I generally find that after a break from practicing the piano, I come back to my practice with more energy, inspiration, and a deeper understanding of what I need to do going forward.
Breaks from difficult pieces can be hugely beneficial as well. Sometimes, we just need a little extra time, and that’s ok. If you start a piece, and ultimately decide that it feels like too much, take a break from it and revisit it in a few weeks or months! While you might not make progress with that specific piano piece during that time, you WILL make progress with other pieces, and your knowledge and technical ability will deepen and you can apply all of your new skills to the piece when you return.
So, just in case it’s not clear yet – YES IT IS OK TO TAKE A BREAK FROM PIANO! In fact, I encourage you to pick a little break that feels right to you (whether that’s a few minutes of a break from a practice session or a week off), and test it out! Let me know how it goes!
Become an even better piano player than you already are. As a member of The Casual to Confident Piano Player be prepared to be inspired, get a TON of encouragement from me, expert Pianist Ashlee Young, the community, AND learn a lot about EVERY aspect of playing and practicing the piano. After just a few classes, you will really start to see an improvement in your piano practice! As a member, you get exclusive access to a private Facebook community for inspiration, feedback, and tips, live sessions, personal feedback sessions once a month, library self paced piano practice guide, and live monthly sessions together.
Learn more and join The Casual to Confident Piano Player Membership: https://www.ashleejyoung.com/pianomember