Rest days: ever required for a practice schedule?

#1

One thing I’ve noticed over the years is that when it comes to exercise/fitness schedules they pretty much always recommend 1-3 full days of rest per week, in between sessions. On the contrary, when it comes to music practice rest days are a topic rarely discussed. I’ve heard many times great musicians would say “I practiced 8 hours a day for x-amount of years”. There’s a video on YouTube where shredder Glenn Proudfoot talks about taking ZERO days off, not even ‘Christmas or Birthdays’, as he puts it.

If you practice technique daily for many hours, is there any point at which you would be inclined to structure dedicated ‘days off’ into your shedule? Or is there no limit to how much you can practice any technique without rest, provided that you practice with the correct form and pay attention to certain principles?

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#2

I wouldnt give 5 cents for anything anybody says on youtube

A lot depends on your playing style etc. Some guys develop a very light touch and relaxation etc…id say they could practice almost as much as they want

Other guys seem to have a very physical style so you’d think theyd need a few rest days thrown in here and there

Mike Orlando comes to mind but also maybe Rusty Cooley and even Zakk Wylde. They have that very physical style


Then there is life stuff that comes at you etc. Sometimes you have a heavy work schedule or family stuff. If you are dead tired overall then it seems a little silly to go thru the motions of practice like a zombie

Then there is the mental factor. The mind can burn out just like the muscles and nerves. A day or two off per week probably helps keep things more fresh

Id say the best approach is to learn to play with a light touch and relaxation

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#3

I don’t think that you are going to get the answer in a forum, I think that it is going to be personal to you. To echo the above comment, depends on how you are managing physically, if you notice that your hands and arms are a little sore, a break could do you the world of good. Even if you feel fine, experiment with rest - start with 1 day a week and increase if you want to. You might be surprised how beneficial a rest day is. Rest can also keep you mentally hungry to play. Forcing yourself not to play is hard and when you get back, you will be super energised!

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#4

Maybe you can practice different items on different days?

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#5

Hi tommo, of course, I agree with you for sure! :slight_smile: I guess I’m more asking “what’s the limit?”, or “is there ever an instance in which you shouldn’t practice a technique daily?” Can practicing technique every single day with no days off for months on end be a safe activity or is rest recommended - and if so, how much?

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#6

Interesting thought.

I guess in music pre-planned rest days dont make as much sense as in sports, because you can quite reliably say when you will be sore from training but not so much when you’re burned out from practice.

Also, i dont trust the “I practiced 24/7 backintheday”-narrative that much anymore. It fits our personal image of the young guitar-gods being locked away in a training doyo but memory is tricky and they also have a story to sell.

Its an ancient discussion but nobody will disagree that an earned rest-day is more beneficial to your learning progress than some hours of forced, possibly tired and frustrated practice where you might only program bad habits into your muscle memory.

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#7

Sure. Fifteen minutes a day, every day, probably won’t hurt you. Hours can, especially if the work you’re doing is highly repetitive, the muscles are given very little physical rest with constant playing and high muscle tension during that time, the motion is stringhopping, you have a predisposition and/or existing injuries, etc. Lots of factors.

Keep in mind also that “practice” is a super vague term. The most important kind of “practice” we deal with around here is acquiring a new skill you don’t yet possess. Learning to do a hand or arm motion you can’t yet do. By contrast, what we’re not talking about most of the time is taking a technique you already have and learning new pieces with it. That’s real work, for sure. But it’s a very different activity. If you’re talking about learning a new motion, let’s be clear that this is what we are talking about.

In general, I get the best results from casual and somewhat haphazard approach. Not sitting down for very long periods of time, a few minutes here and there, with lots of down time in between. I make no effort to play every day, including when I am trying to learn a new motion or skill. Just because life intervenes. And very often, I come back later in the week and I can do something I couldn’t do before. There is a lot of research on the need for time breaks. The “learning”, if you like, happens during these breaks. I don’t think it really happens when you’re actually “practicing”.

In short, try not to worry about this. Only play when you’re enthusiastic, do so for short periods of time, try not to be highly repetitive if you can help it, put down the guitar frequently and walk away, and evaluate by feel, sound, mirrors, and video whether you are really acquiring the new motion you’re trying to learn or just repeating stock phrases a lot with no improvement. That to me is the most natural-feeling way to go about this.

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