Practicing after Summer Break

Picking up the instrument after a break of a week or more can be daunting.  It feels like the fingers are no longer under control, the instrument feels awkward and uncomfortable under the chin and it's easy to get frustrated because you know you can sound better!  Here are a few pointers for starting to play again after a long break to maintain sanity and health:

Start With Short Sessions

The first time you pick up the instrument after a long break, practice for 10 or 15 minutes, and no more.  Your muscles will be out of shape and practicing too long will cause injury!  Depending on your level, each day add 10-15 minutes practice to each session (1st day 15 mins, 2nd day 30 mins, 3rd day 45 mins etc.) until you reach your regular practice session length.  It may be very tempting to play for more than this the first day, but trust me, you will regret it if you do!

Basics Are Your Friend 

It's best to start with simple technical exercises and build your playing back from the ground up. DO NOT try to jump into the hardest piece you were playing before your break, this will only cause frustration and injury!  Instead, here's a list of things to do:

  1. Play open strings (long and short bows)
  2. See Saw on all strings
  3. G/D/G (left hand pizz and bowed on all strings)
  4. Left hand tapping on the instrument
  5. Whole bow exercises
  6. Simple pieces that you know from memory 
  7. Improvise a melody that you hear in your head
  8. Slow and Fast Scales (separate bows, slurred, slurred staccato)
  9. Shifting exercises

That's it!  If you do these things for 5-7 days in a row you will start feeling back to your normal self!  At this point you should be able to pick up on the piece where you left off before the break.  Now get out that instrument and practice! But only for 10-15 minutes!