Music Practices

5 Signs That Tell You: Stop Practicing Now!

September 30, 2016

Too much of a good thing can be a bad thing. This post goes out to all musicians, wannabe-musicians, and to practically anyone who’s dying into practice routines.

Despite how much you enjoy sunbathing, eating burger, or even physical training, doing too much of any of these activities can be bad for your health.

The same is true with practice. While some subscribe to the saying: “Practice makes perfect”, overworking yourself in practice sessions is never healthy and can even lead to burnout.

I’ve been in the same shoe. For quite some time, I was addicted with playing drums. I started out reading about how to choose the right drum at Barking Drum, watched tutorial videos at YouTube, and soon found myself addicted to the beat of the drum. I trained for hours, beating my drum day in and day out.

For several weeks I enjoyed drums but in just a snap, I found the same experience un-motivating, irritating, and tiring. It was too late for me to realize that I have been a victim of burnout syndrome.

While it’s true that practice does help, too much of it can wear you out physically and mentally sooner rather than later. Spending hours doing repeated, high-intensity practice is formula for burnout syndrome. You might just notice your overall performance declining after some time.

Avoid falling into burnout. Spot these 5 classic signs that say you’re practicing too hard.

  1. Feelings of being down.

You might be training so hard when begin to lose that same level of satisfaction and joy in music. When music begins to turn into melancholy instead of enjoyment, don’t wait for it to further weaken your spirit and love for music.

  1. An urge to train harder.

When you begin to feel the need to over-practice to perform better, you better give yourself a break or you are doom for burnout. It is normal to try new, more difficult tasks but pushing yourself too hard could be more harmful than beneficial.

  1. Difficulty recovering

You’ve probably played bad on your last gig, recital or performance. That’s perfectly fine. But if you begin to dwell heavily on that negative emotion, then something is wrong. Take a look at your training schedule and ask yourself: are you practicing more than necessary?

  1. Declining quality of music

This one often goes unnoticed, and most of the time, it would push you to practice even harder. Practice might seem to be the most logical solution, but it’s quite the contrary. Usually, an obvious poor music quality is a sign that you have reached the tipping point and that your performance may be on a decline. If you are faced in such a dilemma, you might benefit from having a creative hiatus.

  1. Developing faulty coping mechanisms

When I was still obsessively playing the drums, I didn’t notice that I have been frequently drum review sites, reading magazine and at times compulsively buying drum accessories that I really didn’t need. I hardly realized that I was already developing some faulty coping mechanisms. Often than not, the tendency to practice harder is just a coping mechanism. If not carefully managed, it can take you to a spiral down and make things difficult.

For musicians, practice should be directed towards improving your craft. But if practice sessions make you hate the same craft that you love, then it becomes counter-productive, self-destructive.

If you starting to experience any sign of burnout, go yell at yourself: Stop! Do some things that you might find satisfaction and enjoyment. Leave your craft for now and get back when you’ve got your creative and musical zest back!

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