Practicing While Sick

May 2, 2007 at 01:59 AM · I've been sick for the past two days, and haven't practiced. I felt guilty yesterday, so today I lugged out my violin and attempted to practice scales/etude/concerto. I had to sit down-I haven't fully regained strength yet but I am getting better.

Does anybody else feel guilty if they don't practice when they are sick? (Sick meaning getting better, I suppose. Not 100% but not lying-in-bed puking.)

By the way, I mainly feel guilty when I'm watching TV or lying in the sun. Or on the internet..

Replies (15)

May 2, 2007 at 03:27 AM · Do not feel guilty for not practicing when you are ill. I find it counterproductive to practice when I do not feel well or when I am very much not in the mood. It is one thing to find oneself perpetually lacking the desire to practice (in other words, never in the mood, which should cause one to reconsider the violin), but another to need a break now and then.

Life is a balance, and in my opinion to become a well-rounded musician capable of bringing to bear the fullest form of expression, you have to live your life to the fullest and absorb all that life brings your way. In other words, you need many, varied experiences from which to draw upon when you play. If you spend your life a violin-practicing machine, you will more than likely wind up sounding like a violin-playing more. I practice only about 1/2 to 1 hour per day (and these are the good days). But, I am a husband and father of two, so time with my family takes precedence over time with my violin. However, when I do play what do you suppose is on my heart and mind, and what do you suppose is the source of emotion brough to life in the music I play? It is life in all it's abundant, varied and wonderful experiences, and most of all it is the love I experience in my wife and in my children.

May 2, 2007 at 04:59 AM · Think of how efficient the practicing will be. If you're sick and fatigued to the point where it'd be counterproductive and just be practicing bad habits, it might be best to take a rest.

I tend to make myself feel guilty for not practicing more or enough (unless it's just after a big recital or playing exam), so I know how you feel, but try to understand that your body needs rest and it's okay to recooperate.

It's also a great chance to do some mental practicing if it's really only physical fatigue. Listen to music, score study, think of your interpretations, plan out a practice routine, analyze the harmony or whatever for the piece.

AND I also think it is good to practice in poor conditions once in a while. You figure, you may have a recital or a concert or a playing exam/audition when you're sick, grumpy, not in the mood, tired, freezing cold, etc. Once in a while I will force myself to practice in unfavorable conditions so that if for some reason it ever happens to me on a performance day, I will have some idea of how I react and how to deal with it.

Take some vitamin C or something :) Get better!

May 2, 2007 at 05:11 AM · I agree with the previous person as well. For one, if you are physically unable to keep command of your playing (not to mention standing), it wouldn't make sense to keep yourself in tip-top shape. However, if you happen to have some time and are mentally up for it, you may want to focus on some basic things-re-examine the things you do and take note of what you are doing well, and what you'd like to do better. For example: your sound production (open tones), or phrasing with the bow (play through some music without vibrato and listen for any unintentional/unwanted accentuations). Basically, utilize your down time as a break to recuperate and if there's any room left-self-assess.

Hope you're feeling better!

May 2, 2007 at 05:29 AM · Shinichi Suzuki: "Only practice on the days you eat."

That means if you are really, really sick, it's okay. If you can only have chicken soup, that just doesn't count as eating.

May 2, 2007 at 10:51 AM · i do it, my friends do it, and kyung wha chung did it

May 2, 2007 at 11:12 AM · I was really sick last month and wondering that too. It was kind of an idle question, for me, because at least for 2-3 days I felt so bad that I couldn't really get out of bed and I was coughing so much that I thought I'd cough all over the instrument if I tried. I ended up not practicing for a week, though, not just those 2-3 days. When I finally started getting better I was really happy to be able to start practicing again. I think that's what you want.

May 2, 2007 at 01:40 PM · I don't practice when I am sick. (Professional obligations are a different story). I don't feel guilty about it. I have plenty of things to feel guilty about, but if you are sick, you are sick. Then you heal, then you practice! Get well soon!

May 2, 2007 at 02:20 PM · it is both mental and physical, i think.

if you are not that sick, able to walk around, miss the sound of your violin, hey, what do you say we open the violin case and get busy? may be the sound of violin will help get your blood going and improve metabolism and promote healing? also rid of the guilty conscience of not practicing? do you have to practice hours beyond exhaustion? well, do you?

years ago, for back pain patients, there was a "law" of bed rest for one week to promote healing. everyone just did it. doctors suggested it, people followed. with no comparison, people had no reference whether it was good or bad. just did it because that was the way it was.

then science came along. they started to look at the benefits of bedrest and miraculously found,,,,none. people became more deconditioned, thus trunkal muscles further weakened, feeding into the viscious cycle of back pain.

just some food for thought.

May 2, 2007 at 03:57 PM · You can practice mentally almost as effectively. Lie (lay, I never did get that right in English classes) in bed resting while doing scales, whatever, in real time. If you make a mistake go back and do it again. Mentally feel the violin and strings, actually hear what you mentally play. It works.

May 2, 2007 at 10:28 PM · I think it depends on the sickness. For me if there is fever involved forget it. If it is a cold you can work thru the cold. Yes you will feel guilty not practicing that is normal but there are things you can do that will make you feel better. I am currently getting a book that details practicing when you don't have time, but I will use it when there is illness too.

My daughter has been ill before and has sat in bed holding her violin and just running thru scales etc without the bow.

It is up to you what you want to do.. somethings you need to let go and not feel guilty. You will sometimes find that you need to take the brake and your body is telling you to do so.

May 2, 2007 at 10:42 PM · My teacher has told me never to pratice if your sick (i.e. flu/headcold). Things liek taht can often screw with your sense of pitch and intonation, and can lead to problems after youve overcome your sickess. Also, if you play with a headache/normal cold, you may be much more iritable and not so inclined to work hard, thusly, whats the point of praticing if your not gonna work? You may just cause problems down the road....

my $.02


August 27, 2014 at 05:40 PM · Get well soon!


August 27, 2014 at 06:31 PM · Yes, I practise even when I am sick. I had viral meningitis earlier this year and I was very ill. Even though playing the violin made me feel dizzy and weak I still did it ! Why ? I am not sure but I always feel that a day without practice is a day wasted.

Just practise long bow strokes, vibrato, tone production etc. Leave the Bach and Paganini until you feel better :)

August 28, 2014 at 10:00 AM · Laurie - I can't afford to eat ...

But I would say that the problem with feeling guilty for not practising is that we are conditioned to beat ourselves up over playing an instrument. It's good to have a few days off, it re-vitalises the brain. As a quite good fiddler once quipped, "all people do is practice, practice. Why don't they do less and think more." (Nathan Milstein) (Need I say more!)

Some of my best work is done when I'm walking the dog - I will try and think around a problem and get some new ideas about how to sort my playing out. We "DO" too much and don't think enough.

Be lazy, play the fiddle the easy way, not the hard way. One can get sick of practising, and that's a healthy kind of sickness.

August 28, 2014 at 11:52 AM · Listening to music is also a good way to practice without practicing.

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