Practicing while tired.

April 9, 2018, 7:06 PM · Does it do any good to practice when you just want to sleep? After a long day at work or school, is it worth it to stay up a few more hours to get practice in?

Replies (11)

April 9, 2018, 7:55 PM · The first thing to practice is... To practice.
Practice is discipline and needs to defeat the million excuses that our heads try to not follow it.

Whether it's violin, running, gym or anything... no matter what, start the practice/training. In this case, take the violin out, open the book and start. If after 15'-20' you are out of it and you see that is not doing any good, then stop. But do not skip the program you set for yourself just because how you feel when you arrive home.
In most cases, after some minutes doing it, you don't feel tired any more.
In any case, your body and mind learns how to add that extra work in the day and you feel less "out of it" for the next session.

April 9, 2018, 8:27 PM · A remedy that works for me: a 15-minute power-nap in late afternoon to get recharged for an upcoming practice session. I avoid caffeine and stimulants. When you're tired, these props don't solve the problem but just put the mind and body to cross-purposes.
April 9, 2018, 9:49 PM · Physical tiredness is less of an issue than mental tiredness. As long as you've got normal fatigue, as opposed to fatigue caused by, say, a strenuous manual-labor job or hours of athletic practice -- you won't injure yourself if you practice with mild physical fatigue. But mental fatigue can make it hard to get anything useful done, and if you can't concentrate, you are more likely to practice-in mistakes.
April 10, 2018, 3:35 PM · You may play better if you catch up on sleep! Groggy, inattentive practice often has to be undone.

Mild attacks of laziness, on the other hand, are no excuse..

April 10, 2018, 4:55 PM · I tend to avoid practice when I'm tired. But it is a bad idea!

Chances are very strong that I will be tired when I MUST PLAY, so it's a good idea to learn to do it and learn to identify and surmount the problems. Whether it is mental or physical fatigue, when the concert starts I have to play.

And if it helps you to use a shoulder rest do so!

April 10, 2018, 5:16 PM · I find that a 2-hour symphony rehearsal (or concert) - a sort of enforced practice, I suppose - makes me unaware of any tiredness I might have. I sleep well when I get home!
April 10, 2018, 5:28 PM · I try to practice daily, but there are some days where the mental exhaustion means that it is not going to work. Those days I just head to bed. The deal with myself is at least I will try.
April 11, 2018, 6:30 AM · In all honesty there are things more important than violin. Relationships, making a living and so on. I try to do it every day but it doesn't always happen because I made a trade with something more important. Only a dull boy would say nothing else is ever more important.

I usually play at the end of my day and yes, I'm usually tired. Although I am a coffee drinker I don't recommend that kind of a stimulant. I am also not a doctor but I can tell you a few of the things that work for me when tired and a few that don't.

I take vitamin B 12 sometimes about 20 minutes before I practice. For those who don't know those "5 hour energy" drinks are all basically vitamin B 12 and caffeine and maybe a sweetener.I have B12 in a powder form and I mix it with water. I find it doesn't interfere with my concentration, it isn't bad for my health and it gives me a much needed boost occasionally.Also anything that might put you into a better mindset. Light a scented candle, take a hot shower.....just don't get too relaxed.

Things I would avoid before a practice are eating a heavy meal or drinking alcohol.

And there is a trade off for sure. Compared to someone who can practice when they aren't tired. Probably takes longer to get to a goal.

No benefit in pushing yourself beyond your limits if you've had an especially long day. This is where I decide what's important and occasionally scratch practice.

April 11, 2018, 6:46 AM · I sometimes still practice when I'm dead tired because I don't want to lose what little technique I might actually have. So I'll saw through some less-challenging studies or review old rep. My greatest fear which has come close to happening a few times is that I'll actually fall asleep while playing and drop my beautiful violin.
April 12, 2018, 5:09 PM · Try to re-organise your day so that you can do at least 30 minutes (but preferably a full 60 minute routine) in the morning, before anything else.

I made this change about fifteen years ago, and it was a profound boost to my day, my whole lifestyle.

After work, and exhausted, I knew I had already done part of my day's music practice, and tired or not (always tired), I was able to do another 90 minutes.

The hardest thing about practice is opening the case. Once I start, I enjoy my application to learning and polishing music.

April 13, 2018, 6:30 PM · Is it worth it? Generally, I don't think so.
If you need sleep, then don't resist that. It's best to skip practice if you require extra sleep.
For me personally, sometimes when I'm tired and I try to practice, I become frustrated. Other times, it energizes me. Still other times, I feel like I'll fall asleep playing.
It really depends on your specific mood, I think. If you WANT to practice, than I don't see why not. If you are fairly certain you're not in the mood for it, don't. If you really need and want to sleep, don't deprive yourself of sleep. If you feel like sleeping, your body and mind most likely need it. You won't be doing yourself a favor by pushing yourself.
Essentially, it's best to access in the moment whether or not it's best for you if you practice. Do you feel you truly WANT to practice? Do you think it would hurt more than help? Do you think you need sleep this instant or you'll collapse? Are you just thinking of practicing for the sake of practicing? If you really want to practice, you should be all right to.
Just remember that it's perfectly fine to miss a few days of practice. I force myself to do this every now and then. Don't feel you HAVE to practice unless you WANT to practice. A few missed days won't hurt. Even a week. You may find yourself a bit more refreshed if you take a break, anyway.
Morning practice is wonderful if you are a morning person. I am not, though I try to practice around eight or nine in the morning, simply because it's usually the only time of day I'm alone.
Some here have mentioned taking a nap, then practicing, but I think in your situation it may not be plausible. If it's in the evening/late afternoon you may be awake through the night.
As others have said, I would not recommend caffeine or energy drinks.
However, there are teas that help rejuvenate, without caffeine in them. Mint (peppermint, spearmint, wintergreen, apple mint, etc), echinacea, lemon balm, lemon verbena, may all help to refresh naturally. If you happen to be looking for an alternative to coffee: dandelion and chicory apparently work. I've never tried them, however, I hope to this autumn when they're in season (the roots should be harvested then; the actual plants aren't in season then, obviously).
Hope this helps.


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