Days off from practice: a constructive technique?

October 9, 2010 at 01:20 AM ·

I'm beginning to notice a pattern: whenever I've been forced to take a few days off practice, I seem to play better when I return to the instrument.

I'm wondering if there is a case for regular rest periods, as a constructive part of the practice routine?

I believe that many sports coaches recommend regular time off every few weeks, to allow the body to repair itself and the nervous system to absorb new motor skills.

Something that doesn't seem to have been discussed before. I'd appreciate advice!

Replies (43)

October 9, 2010 at 01:31 AM ·

Short answer - Yes

Complicated answer - the amount varies for every person.

Personal answer - I hope you found the right amount for you, because if you do, you can really optimize rate of development on the instrument.  It will optimize your rate of learning and really reduce your chances of injury.

October 9, 2010 at 01:57 AM ·

I have similar experiences.  I speculate that this relates to the whole "muscle memory" process, which despite some objection to its common name is a real phenomenon.  Another issue with letting this process occur is doing so at the right stage--when what you're doing is right.

In the interesting book How Muscles Learn, author Susan Kempter talks also about how part of teaching is making sure the student spends enough time getting things just right before things settle into muscle memory.  She talks about ways of interfering with the process so it doesn't happen too early.

October 9, 2010 at 02:17 AM ·

Interesting!  I also suggest it evolves over time...

Generally speaking, I have a very poor muscle/motion memory but over the years I have been playing, it is slightly less bad than what it was before.  Before, two days of break were like two years (no joke, I lost everything).  Now, my teacher can have a few weeks vacation and I can stop for two weeks for exam rush and, at least, I didn't loose and of course... didn't gain everything.  Also, the time to "come back to it is less long" than before. Still far from perfect but I guess this is the very very very beginning of what could be call "experience".  

Trying to hard is as bad... but hard work with one's head can really boost progress!  Often, it's because we practice like chickens without head and logic and this is a killer we must learn to recognize...  (a good teacher is suppose to show you how to think too)



As the first poster told, to each one his recepie...

October 9, 2010 at 06:53 AM ·

Personally I have been able to take a couple of years off with no difficulty in getting back very quickly, except for slightly sore fingers if I do too much at once.

Some very famous teachers and our own Simon Fischer think that it is all in the brain anyway and not in the muscles. I agree.

October 9, 2010 at 07:16 AM ·

Yes, but the phenomenon being discussed still exists.  "Muscle memory" is the term used generally, including by those with some understanding of which parts of the brain are probably involved in the process of automating movements.

October 9, 2010 at 08:16 AM ·

Hey that explains it - two days makes you impruve an etude, imagine what my 40 years off did!  Paganini whatch out...

Actually my playing hardly deteriorated at all so I must have a pretty good long term 'muscle' memory - maybe thats where my brain cells are cause I can't remember where I put my car keys :) 

I have actually found the same thing but I'm not sure if I learned more by taking the break than I would have gained by not doing so.  I think what happens is that when you take a few days off you remember much better what you were like when you stopped than if you played through the same period.  Thus its hard to establish a baseline unless someone did a formal learning test.

I'd guess that that has been done for some learned behaviour...

October 9, 2010 at 08:27 AM ·

I find that a lot of conductors have days off.

Or is that off days? (Both probably).

October 9, 2010 at 09:31 AM ·

Interesting that you mention sports phsycology. This is all to do with visualisation, you see your self go through in your mind aspects of technique. This is best done in a state of's a simple technique.

I remember those times having not practised for a couple of days and I believe it is due to our attitude...... (ok, I havent played for few days so I have a really good excuse if I make mistakes. ) Thus we are relaxed and at ease, but we can be relaxed and at ease also at the begining of every practise session. But if you really can not practise every day, use this time off to go through techniques and pieces (note for note ) in your head, after you have brought your self to a state of relaxation. This should be done at every time/every day you have a spare moment or when you have nothing else to do........... like when you just jumped into bed, you may have a few moments to go through stuff.............depending how fast you fall asleep. 


October 9, 2010 at 11:03 AM ·

I believe I mentioned in another discussion some time ago that when I was in my 20s my cello remained in its case for a several years while I coped with the pressures of work and study.  When I returned to playing, within a couple of weeks it was like I'd never got off the bus (sore fingers and redeveloping underused muscle groups accounted for that fortnight) and very shortly afterwards I was back playing in an adult symphony orchestra.  If it's all in the brain to start with, it seems it can return. 

What may, or may not, be a related phenomenon is this:– for several years I have been playing Irish music and go to tune learning workshops where we'll be taught a number of tunes by ear.  The odd thing is, and significantly this seems to happen to most people at those workshops, is that after all that fairly intensive learning when I get home those tunes have usually evaporated from my mind.  If I haven't  recorded them at the workshop or otherwise got hold of  a transcription I'll have a problem, a problem especially compounded if it was a holiday workshop in Ireland and I've returned to the UK.  But, invariably a few days, or even weeks, later those tunes will pop up in my mind, intact and apparently out of nowhere. 

October 9, 2010 at 11:39 AM ·

Sometimes I've had to take a few days off because what I'm practicing just doesn't "GEL" for some reason....I go over the piece in my head and imagine I'm playing it by going through the finger placement and bow strokes.  It works for me...

Have also had a time when I was away form my violin for a few months due to injury, and other than aching fingers and stiff shoulders for a few days, it all came back...

October 9, 2010 at 12:16 PM ·

Peter: I find that a lot of conductors have days off.

Thats because they have a low capacitance...

October 9, 2010 at 02:05 PM ·

There seems to be processing time, for me anyway. Many things I can't seem to find great improvement while actually practicing, set it down, come back later, and that technique, passage, whatever, is better. Sometimes I am only able to do short practice, ten to thirty minutes, and I used to think it wasn't enough. I am beginning to think it's the time between practices that our brain does the processing.

And  I agree, there are times when days go by, get back to playing, and freakin magic, something that was sooooo hard, is no longer that way.

October 9, 2010 at 02:21 PM ·


Of course we should consider that there may be a reason or reasons why things go badly and don't get better and even get harder when you are working on them.

You must ask yourself if you are going about it the wrong way, or not working out why there is a continuing problem.

The reason passages sometimes seem easier when we have been away from them may be more to do with the fact that we haven't been doing our "bad" practise on them. That's why sometimes a concerto or a sonata say that we have worked on and left for a year suddenly seems easier than you remember. You have forgotten the problems you may have practised in.

If a piece or a passage is not improving then we should stop and ask ourselves why. Left hand technique? Bowing technique? Both? Posture, left shoulder? Trying too hard? Freezing up?

The list is endless!

October 9, 2010 at 03:57 PM ·

From what I heard from my teacher though, these "not too damagable" or sometimes even benefic breaks of adults who stoped for a few years are reversible better when the person played seriously for a while at beginning. (the first years he or she learned the instrument.) 

We often see someone who played a bit in their youth in heigh school or just for fun that comes back to it at let's say 35 yo and plays almost just as bad as if he or she never did violin.  (often seen in adults that now raise a family and don't have much time).  Perhaps if you plan to take a break and don't want it to harm your skills too much, you should be at least a tad "serious" when you first start to learn an instrument; commit yourself to practice for at least 5-6 years in a good school.  (and then the good "foundation" will stay more with you afterwards if ever life comes in the way).  Perhaps I'm wrong or not.  It's just an observation + what I often heard.  I'm sure they are exceptions to this.



October 9, 2010 at 04:08 PM ·


Your point is well made: if we're not solving problems when we practice, we surely have to seek the reason. So you've inspired me to think a little more deeply about the gains I've experienced after time off.

I think what I'm finding isn't so much that specific difficulties with repertoire improve: it's more that points I have been working on in isolation (as a beginner I spend much of my time exploring the basics) somehow become more integrated into my playing.

So where before it might have been left hand relaxation OR right hand relaxation, now I'm more able to play with left hand AND right hand relaxation. I'm over-simplifying to clarify the point, but I hope you catch my meaning: it's somehow as though the mind/body has processed the learning and it's become a habit, where before it required conscious attention.

And many of the times I feel I've made little breakthroughs of this kind, it's come after a few days off.

October 9, 2010 at 04:12 PM ·

 Anne-Marie, I think you've nailed it.  I treated the cello very seriously in my teens and had an extremely good teacher (another very important point), so that probably explains why my return to playing was easy.

October 9, 2010 at 09:36 PM ·

 John, have you ever learnt speed reading?  That might explain it.

October 9, 2010 at 11:10 PM ·


I seem to remember from my postgrad psychology classes that humans are very good at recognising patterns. Evolutionary, I guess - it's how we spotted carnivores in the shadows and snakes in the trees!

I suspect this is (in part) how sight-reading works too, at the higher levels.

October 9, 2010 at 11:29 PM ·

I believe that speed reading and sight reading have it in common that they both deal with recognizing patterns.

October 9, 2010 at 11:54 PM ·

I've been able to recover from a disgustingly long hiatus in piano fairly well, mostly because I had a rigorous teacher and started young, continuing weekly until college.  I'm still nowhere near where I was as a kid, but if I had the time, I could woodshed back to that point pretty handily.  And I'm able to do some things much better than I could when I was a kid; I've also started writing, which surprised me.

On viola, I'm nowhere near where I'd need to be in order to stop for any period of time with confidence.  The most I can say is that I can often pause for about a half an hour to sip tea and sit down and improve when I pick the thing up, but I'm still at the point where I have to work nonstop.

I do use the downtime to go over fingerings, though -- even before falling asleep or during my lunchtime walk at work, I'll go over fingering in my head to "set" it there.  It's strange, but that's a different aspect to practice that can only be done without the instrument in your hand, and which seems to be very valuable.  I guess it all comes down to the fact that even when I'm not playing the viola, I try to play the viola.  :-)

It helps immensely with piano as well, but in a different way.  I don't have so many technical obstacles there anymore (or at least none that really freak me; I'm not about to try Rachmaninoff's Musical Moment #4 any time soon), but the mental woodshedding helps hugely with memorization and avoiding memory blackouts where you start playing and just go blank for no reason, or choke from nerves.

October 10, 2010 at 12:27 AM ·

Janis and Trevor, you confirm my theory ; )   I agree Trevor about the good teacher...

October 10, 2010 at 09:31 AM ·


I would suggest that you look at Simon Fischer's website (Simonfischeronline) where he has under "discussion" and also on the "preview" tab discussed these things in some detail.

he is extremely sorted out and in my opinion gives excellent (and in my view the best) advice. He also has books and DVD's that you can also aquire.

I'm not trying to plug him, but he does talk the most sense when it comes to just about every aspect of technique and musicianship. And he can do it all too!

October 10, 2010 at 11:00 AM ·

This may have passed under the radar:

@Don: I am so convinced about rest periods that I keep two piles of practice music around.  I may play one pile for a few weeks or a month and then I go back to the other pile.  ALWAYS easier the second time around.  Playing the second pile does not seem to affect the subconscious processing of the previous pile.  Amazing.

I find the same thing and think its VERY important.  But was not to what extent this is 'incubation' processing - perhaps the small improvements I make on other pieces are allowing me to get over the hangups on the resting pieces.  If each piece has elements that are easy, moderate and hard other pieces may habe easy passages that help you with elements of the challenging ones in the others.

I find I advance much faster with respect to playing notes at least, if I work on a variety of pieces at the same time.  However, nothing seems to replace working very hard perfecting a short passage as well - its a different aspect of violin learning that I don't think can be gleaned by just looking at more note sequences!

Researchers found that the incubation process was proportional to the amount of stress experienced at the start of the rest period.  In other words, a really challenging piece should be practiced just to the point of "losing it" and then just stop.  This makes sense to me and I happen to be into some music which will test the theory !

How very interesting!  I'm going to give that a shot too...


October 10, 2010 at 11:31 AM ·

"a really challenging piece should be practiced just to the point of "losing it" and then just stop"

Interesting - I realise I do this intuitively.

To make progress in sports training, you do have to push a little out of your comfort zone. Then your nervous system says: looks like there are some challenges on the way, I'd better adjust so I can cope with this. There is ample research to back this up. But you have to judge it right - overdo it and you simply hurt yourself. Macho training can do more harm than good.

It would make sense that it's similar with practicing - if you always stay within your comfort zone, progress will be slow. Overdo it to the point that technique breaks down, and you stall progress. But push just to the point that you are beginning to feel rushed and disorganised, and perhaps the nervous system will say: looks like there are some challenges on the way... ?

October 10, 2010 at 03:15 PM ·


I think we have 2 suggestions here:

1) Taking a few days entirely away from the instrument

2) "A change is as good as a rest"

I suspect there is value in both approaches.

Regarding change rather than rest, in sports training it is recognised that the body adapts very quickly to new challenges, then progress slows down drastically. So sophisticated coaches cycle the training methods to keep presenting the body with new challenges. There's quite a scientific literature around this.

As a simple example, a power-lifter might work with heavy, 3 repetition sets, then as progress slows down, switch to lighter 5 repetition sets etc.

I've seen recent sports research that suggests that micro-cycling is even more effective. In other words, changing the method every training day. That would suggest that it might be best to have 2-3 practice routines and cycle through them, rather than doing the same routine even day.

I hadn't thought about this before in the context of music practice. If it works in the gym, why not in the practice room? The neurophysiology is the same.

This thread has highlighted for me the huge disparity between research into sports conditioning, and research into musical development. Sport is becoming quite scientific these days. Instrument practice seems to be more of a black art. Is there any useful research on this area of change and rest?

October 12, 2010 at 04:26 AM ·


haven`t read the thread yet (;)) but I am quite happy with my students takign one day off a week.



October 12, 2010 at 10:32 AM ·

There could be a case for taking a few days off from this forum on a regular basis, to allow the old nervous system to recover :-)

February 27, 2013 at 08:59 PM · UPDATE

Thought I'd revive this thread as I've just had an even more dramatic experience of the benefits of "non-practice".

Took the longest holiday of my life to go on a little expedition. Didn't play for over 2 months, much the longest layoff I've had since I started.

Picked up the instrument and immediately found myself playing much better than before: bigger sound, more sense of being in control. My housemate said "What on earth's happened? You sound like a different player!"

I guess this will vary from person to person, but I do wonder about the way so many young players practice so hard and consistently. I'm increasingly convinced that resting from the instrument enables the nervous system to integrate the lessons of practice.

This could be an interesting area for research, I feel.

February 28, 2013 at 09:54 AM · Amazing. Maybe this expedition gave you a confidence & determination you didn't have before, so in a sense you were a new player because you were a new person.

I can't think it would help everyone, though I certainly noticed that with revising for exams, doing your best then having a bit of recreation or sleep seemed to help it 'go in'.

But in general time off seems to help in an unpredictable way, judging by anecdotes. I wonder if players who take the Sabbath off find that it helps getting back to it in their new week?

March 2, 2013 at 03:48 AM · Everyone is indeed, different. I wouldn't recommend a long break more than once in a very great while, if that. I think a long break might help in some ways if a person had some kind of crisis and as has been suggested, really needed to become a 'new person'.

I do believe in taking one day off per week - schedule-permitting. I find this helpful and refreshing, both physically and psychologically. I usualy look forward to my day off and to my day back on.

With my recital looming (v. my other thread "Come to my Recital") I took my last day off on Tuesday, but it wasn't much of a vacation. I went all over Manhattan, to re-hair my main solo bow, get some new strings, and put up my recital flyers in a number of places. My next day off will have to wait until March 19th.

One day off per week on the average is fine, but even if it did my muscles, nervous system and technique no harm, much more than that would not be a vacation for me - it would be exile.

March 2, 2013 at 04:45 AM · Yes! Taking a day off every week or two weeks can be tremendously helpful.

March 2, 2013 at 05:57 PM · Raphael, your adventures remind me my case as well and that of many others too I'm sure!

I also want to prepare everything for my upcomming recital (shorter and much easier than yours since I'm amateur but still a big deal for me...) Put new strings, will have to have my soundpost adjust, practices with the pianist start next week, so does simulations for my family and I even bought a recording device to practice under stress and hear my mistakes. Fourtunately I'm not that much a fashion freak so it does something less to worry about. I can just imagine how it must be even worst for pros! Good luck...

And so true that when taking a rest from the violin, we still do other exhausting things so... not much rest after all.

I fell the ideal vacations for violinists would be with a violin doing chamber music or just lightly preparing some things and have a lot of time outdoors having fun the rest of the time. But I don't know where one can have such a vacation formula and $$$ :)

March 2, 2013 at 06:54 PM · It sounds like you're preparing very well, Anne Marie - and nothing is ever all that easy!

I do wistfully look forward to very rare off days when I can just 'vegge-out' rather than having to catch up on other things.

Early in January, I went to Florida for a week to visit my Mom. I took a violin with me, but only spent about an hour-plus per day on my systen of scales and exercises, with one day completely off that week. When I came back, I started preparing for my recital.

March 2, 2013 at 07:02 PM · I think it's very important to have a day off. Otherwise you run the risk of getting sick of playing every day. I sometimes have that feeling and I usually take mondays off.

March 6, 2013 at 03:39 PM · I've been taking a quick look at the sports science literature, and the conclusion seems to be that it's all a bit of an open question.

They differentiate between micro recovery (recovery between training sessions) and macro recovery (occasional longer layoffs to allow muscles and nervous system to recover and mind to refresh).

Macro recovery is inherently difficult to research becuase of the longer timescale, but there seems to be an increasing sense that most athletes would benefit from longer periods of downtime. The UK cycling team, who have come from nowhere to world dominance through smart training, use a very long taper before major competitions. I've heard the athletes say that they find it scary doing nothing when they know their competition is training hard, but it sure seems to work!

March 6, 2013 at 07:34 PM · You know what, you have touched on something i have been pulling over in my mind for some time now, first about my piano practice routine and now my violin routine.

I have noticed that at its most basic level simply putting the instrument down and going to sleep causes an improvement in what i was playing just before putting it down. If i pick it up the next day, and resume playing the exact piece from the day prior for the first few minutes i feel as though ive improved greatly, then after a bit of playing it settles back into normal. If i stop playing for a day or 2 (normally forced upon me), the effect seems to be twice as great and lasts longer.

In my humble opinion the physical rejuvenation of the body and the rest of the muscles is obviously a factor which compares to the sports breaks talked about in recent posts. I however believe, for myself at least, that the improvement in playing after an extended break is only slightly because of the muscle and body rest, but for the most part is something happening in the mind. I almost feel like the mind stores everything that happens while I play, and when you leave only the subconscious rather than the conscious part of the brain to ponder over it (which requires leaving the conscious part out of the equation for awhile) its able to process that information much more productively. Its almost like the practice sessions you had before the break are able to be learned from much more efficiently.

The breaks if taken too often or for too long seem to lead to a deterioration of the all too important physical side of playing however, which causes decreases in playing skill which means if more people seem to have the same affect you would think this is an area just begging for actual scientific research towards finding the happy medium where we can actual define whats a 'healthy extended rest' and whats too long or too short. who knows, my mind could be playing tricks on me, but im glad im not the only one to notice it!

March 6, 2013 at 08:41 PM · As Yogi Berra was said to have observed about hitting a baseball: it's 90% mental. The other half is physical.

If your mind is in control of the situation, it will tell your fingers what to do.

March 6, 2013 at 11:32 PM · I have made experiences with longer breaks last summer. First I was thrown out of the game by tendonitis in both hands. Thatmade me practice a lot mental (I actually went to masterclass without knowing that I will not be able to play at the end of it... and I couldn't. Actually I most certainly hold the record now of the least practice time during a active masterclass.. it was about 15 minutes on the violin ;)

While doing this break of course I was paniced, because I had some friends who suffered from tendonitis long times and were really hold back through it. But on the occasions I tried to play, it actually calmed me down, because I always saw, that i could still play. Actually I had to force myself not to play, because I did know it would make things worse over time.

When I started again practicing after this mabye 1 and a half month period, I totally changed my technique at first and also my practice routines obviously. And I have to say, I never felt so confident on the violin before. I was able to really listen to myself and much more musical in my practicing, looking for colours, ideas, and economic technical solutions.

Of course there comes the time, where you feel, that you have to get your old stamina back. Concerts helped me there.

The second break was intentional and also last summer. I went surfing ;). I did this for the first time and it was a total new experience to me. Before I was a little worried about if I will miss my violin, but I left everything at home, even scores. the holidays where quite nice, not as nice at it gets, but certainly a good experience to make and being active was always something I benefited from.

After being back in germany and starting to practice again, I had the same feeling like after my first break. Only that I was'nt coming from a injury but from an refreshing, activating experience... with a lot of sun for german standards. So I felt like this energy I got from there helped me a lot into the autumn and winter.

Generally I think that the effect of a break has largely to do with the level you are on (or maybe the age). As I was younger I totally felt every day off and two weeks of made it so painful to get back to the violin for me, that I sometimes hesitated. It was a lot of work to keep the sound and the intonation back on track.

Maybe its because when you are young(er) you tend to "pracitce" quite musical and untechnical, ignoring some issues you should probably take care of. Playing the things that are comfortable rather than the ones one could progress with... and so on. When you get older, you have less time to practice and therefore spend the thime more wisely... often on technique and finger exercises... even music is getting an exercise if you play one scale over and over again or speeding up a place with the metronome. This is actually poison for our musical brains. Its very hard to ignore and not actually healthy to fight through this technical stuff. But our music is difficult and we want to play it, so we are wise and do the exercises. When you make a break then and come back to the violin the first thing you nitice is how beautiful music is and how you missed the wonderful sound of the instrument and its abilities to speak and express emotions. Good times!

About recovering:

I am not a doctor or fitness coach but I strongly believe, that recovery can be an active process. For violinists its especially important to do some kind of sports because we need to stay flexible and aware of our body. The best thing to do this is in my opinion different sports, gymnastics (like yoga, pilates etc.) and strength training to a certain extend too. What that makes with our body is, that it gives some new impulses and causes the body to react in certain ways. It seems to me that when we play the violin the viewing field (so to say) of our body gets narrower, if we make some sports or activities, we expend it back to normal or even wider. Its like Ying and Yang.

My point is, that I think one wouldn't need such long breaks, like 2 months, if one is more in balance between things.

Actually interesting is to read about Fritz Kreisler in Milsteins Biography.

Milstein was asked by Kreisler to take care of his violin while he was on holidays. When Milstein picked the violin up it looked like it hasn't been played for weeks already (broken strings). But we must never forget, that people who can make those breaks, worked hard before.

You have to build up something and then release it. I believe that both is important. Sticking your head in work for long periods without longer breaks. And fairly long breaks to release the energy and giving a new dimension to your work/art.

sorry my english writing is quite off sometimes

March 7, 2013 at 05:48 PM · Aaron

I almost feel like the mind stores everything that happens while I play, and when you leave only the subconscious rather than the conscious part of the brain to ponder over it (which requires leaving the conscious part out of the equation for awhile) its able to process that information much more productively. Its almost like the practice sessions you had before the break are able to be learned from much more efficiently.

This is my own feeling too - I'm a bit of binge person - I work very hard for a few weeks, then run out of steam for a few days. When I come back, I'm invariably playing better than when I stopped. It does seem as if the nervous system has been processing and the new skill level has become more accessible.

Of course I'm a beginner, and for advanced players things may work differently. I can make big gains because I'm starting from such a low level!


Sure - if you haven't been putting in the work, nothing magical is going to happen if you take time off! And as a yoga teacher I'd certainly agree that Yoga/TaiChi/Aikido etc would help recovery, and also help people get a better sense of sound body mechanics.

In terms of longer breaks, the 2 months was a bit of a one-off - I'm really thinking of the odd week of rest. Though from what I remember, Auer wrote that many of his contemporaries took the summer off, but that he personally found it took him too long to work back up to performance level so he kept practicing.

Like most things violin, I guess the only real answer is to find out what works for each of us individually...

March 8, 2013 at 02:16 AM · The processing of information and motor skills seems to be underestimated by most musicians in my experience. The myth of muscle memory is still being taught by music teachers. Muscles and the nervous system (pns) are incapable of learning movement, only the brain is.

We don't really learn things until short term memory is processed to long term memory. Once information is stored in long term memory the mind can start building pathways and highways to connect these memories. The more we use a memory the stronger the memory becomes and a faster/straighter highway is built.

A brake once and a while may help the mind build these "highways".

March 8, 2013 at 03:56 PM · Charles

That surely makes sense - if I'm understanding the literature, your point is exactly what the sports researchers are saying. But it's still a field that's poorly understood in terms of how this would be optimised it seems. There is a clear trend, though, for less training and smarter traning rather than the old indiscriminate high-volume approach.

March 10, 2013 at 03:10 AM · No matter what the reason, I often find a few days break helps playing. I just enjoy it too much to do it often!

March 11, 2013 at 02:41 PM · I've been told that whenever a new skill is learned, it can take your brain a little bit to 'catch up.' This is why at first the skill is more difficult, and after a short break (during which time your mind has had time to 'sort out' the new skill) going back to it you perform better. I don't think long breaks would be advisable most of the time, but short ones can be oddly helpful.

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