One would think that when we practice at home on our own, injury risk is lower because we are in total control of what we do, what we play, and how we play it! Unfortunately though, we tend to get so involved that we lose track of time. We push ourselves into endless repetition, we try to cram, and we force ourselves to stay put and get through everything we have to prepare. We are ready to self-destruct to reach our goals. This is a recipe for disaster!
First, remember these five essential practice rules to avoid injury:
- WARM UP, first away from the instrument and then at the instrument.
- TAKE BREAKS at least 10 minutes per hour, and a day a week, as well as the odd minute to uncurl arms, let go of instruments, and get out of awkward positions and postures.
- VARY YOUR REPERTOIRE; one uses different muscles for different types of repertoire. Don’t get stuck on one passage or one work.
- INCREASE YOUR PRACTICE LOAD GRADUALLY, if you are coming from time off or lighter loads. Never launch right into heavy intense playing.
- REDUCE YOUR PRACTICE INTENSITY PRIOR TO PERFORMANCE. Avoid heavy practice on the day before and the day of a concert or audition. Practice away from the instrument. Mental preparation and visualizations are very effective.
Learn to analyze and avoid mindless repetition. Our goal in practicing is to achieve ease of musical expression. Good practicing entails close observation of musical, technical, and physical details within a framework of a plan with concrete and achievable goals, without wearing ourselves out and sustaining an injury!
From Janet Horvath’s
Playing (less) Hurt – An Injury Prevention Guide for Musicians www.playinglesshurt.com
© 2006, Janet Horvath