When you took your last vacation did you take your instrument with you?
I heard an alarming statistic the other day. According to recent research, about 41% of U.S. workers don’t use all their vacation time, and some 56% of Americans haven’t taken a vacation in the last 12 months. In other words, many of us are just too busy to take the vacation we have earned. And that doesn’t even include those of us who are self-employed and have to create our own vacation time, before we can decide not to use it.
More importantly, employers have discovered that employees who don’t use their vacation time can experience lower overall productivity, increased health concerns and general dissatisfaction.
We musicians have had it drilled into us from our first days of music lessons: daily practice is essential. It ranks right next to brushing your teeth. We simply don’t skip a day.
With that in mind, how can we justify taking a vacation without our instrument? Can we enjoy some rest and relaxation without worrying about losing our technique or forgetting the music we have learned? Is it possible to have a guilt-free escape to the islands, the mountains, or anywhere else?
It’s not only possible, but some time away from the routine of practice and even away from your instrument altogether is actually necessary for most of us.
Practice can feel as stressful to us as any other sort of employment, even if music isn’t our profession. We put pressure on ourselves to achieve, to improve and to progress no matter our level of playing. And continuing to practice without allowing ourselves any time off is just as detrimental as unused vacation time.
This winter my family and I were away for two weeks and I was able to enjoy the trip, even knowing I had some important performances coming up on my return. I was able to come back to the harp refreshed and ready to get back to work. The magic is in how you plan.
You probably plan your vacation in great detail. I suggest you put as much effort (or maybe a little more) into planning your practice before you go, so you know what you will need to do when you get back. In fact, if you plan correctly, you will not only come back knowing what you need to do, but you will be able to be confident that you have the time you need to accomplish what you want. And thanks to your vacation, you will have renewed energy to bring to the task.
Now…where will you go on your vacation?