THE VALUE OF HAVING A BREAK
D’you remember that ad? Makes my mouth water just thinking about it. And to my mind, having a break is good policy.
Golf fans will probably have been amazed by the recent come-back of Tiger Woods, winning the Masters Tournament after a fallow patch of several years. Admittedly, he had been out of action with a bad back, but his flair on his return seemed even greater than before his injury.
Meanwhile, we’re being told to forget gruelling long exercise routines. These days, the fitness buzz-word is HIIT - high intensity interval training. The idea is that we go at our given exercise (cycling, press-ups or whatever) hell-for-leather for 30 seconds, then take it slowly for 4 or 5 minutes before another burst. The benefits, they insist, are immense.
I’m a great fan of having a break. I’ve applied it in my musical life in both small and large ways. I’ve just started tickling the ivories again after exactly a year off. And although I can feel my fingers have stiffened up, a bit of daily practise is bringing them back to life. This isn’t the first time I’ve had a year or more off, and each time I’ve found my playing technique really benefitted. I forget the bad physical habits and soon get back the good ones. No doubt, as I get even longer in the tooth, it will be unwise to take quite such lengthy breaks, mind.
On a smaller scale, I have always advocated that practices be short and very concentrated, with lengthy gaps in between. My ideal is five or six 5-minute practices a day. There is no doubt that progress occurs between sessions, as the brain processes the information inputted each time. And for those practices I focus on very short passages of music - a bar, or even a couple of notes - which were giving trouble. There’s no point practising something that’s going well anyway. That’s like polishing silver which is already shiny. No, I work on the blemishes so that they no longer stand out from the rest.
ENTERING THE 21ST CENTURY
I’ve finally grasped the nettle and got my recordings accepted on iTunes, Amazon Music, Spotify, Deezer and many other providers. You can hear Moonlight Sonata and Reverie so far, with many more to come. Following on from that, I am having my arrangements and compositions published by Sheetmusicplus. I’ll tell you when they’re up for you to download.
And now, I think it’s time to have a break...