There are two contrary opinions about how much piano practice is healthy over the holiday period.
On one hand, the opportunity to practice now you finally have free time seems too good to pass up. On the other hand, it could be argued that Christmas is a time for family and relaxation, and it’s only healthy to have some time to yourself – including time away from the piano.
Both are valid and depend very much on what was going on in your life before the holidays. If you’re stressed, always running out of time, it is sometimes good to switch off and fully recharge the batteries.
If however, you have a reasonably quiet lifestyle and prefer to practice in regular, short sessions, you may find it useful to cut yourself off from the world and have a really intense practice period.
From my experience, I would say that 90% of the people I come across – whether friends, students or colleagues – belong to the first group. Particularly for those who live in busy cities, by the time the Christmas period arrives, many of us feel exhausted, wishing to rest and shut down completely. Deadlines, Christmas parties, shopping for presents add additional stress to already busy lifestyle, so fitting in an extra 30 minutes a day for scales and arpeggios sometimes proves to be a step too far.
What I also keep noticing with my students, is that once they stop completely, their subconscious mind catches up, and as a result they play better after a good rest. They connect with the music better, and their attention to detail is much greater. It is almost as though the body has finally digested all the work that they have been done before! (Obviously, there must be some work done in the pre-Christmas period, as otherwise there would be nothing to digest!)
Therefore, I would say, that unless you have a big deadline for which you want to prepare, I would advocate for a complete rest! Go for walks, do some exercises, read some books, listen to music, spend the time with your friends and family, avoid your normal working routine and really relax. It is important to separate work from play, and when you play the piano it should be for pleasure. Stressing yourself out too much will not help.
Is this something many of you wanted to hear?
Have a wonderful holidays and Happy New Year!
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