Sometimes taking a break from playing the guitar can be good for both your mind and your body (provided you play often enough to begin with), but when it comes time to get back to playing, it can be easy to feel overwhelmed with the process. It’s easy to be filled with thoughts of just how many things that you need to work on, how much practice you missed, how hard it will be to get back into the groove, and other negative thoughts that can prevent you from getting back on track. I’ve created a list of 5 simple things to keep in the back of your mind as you get things moving again. Just remember to do things one step at a time, and don’t overwhelm yourself by trying to do too much at once.
This might seem like a no-brainer, but the biggest thing you can do to get your practicing back on track is to re-establish a practice routine. Start slowly, and don’t feel bad if you start off practicing less than you did before your break. The important thing here is to establish a practice habit, and the best way to do this is to practice consistently, even if it’s just for 5 minutes. Read more about How To Easily Form New Practice Habits
The best way to get excited about practicing is to practice things that excite you. What makes you excited about playing the guitar? While you’re getting your routine back on track, don’t feel bad if you focus most of your time on things that come easily to you. The real goal here is to feel happy about playing the guitar. Sometimes it can be fun to just play the things that you know well! As you get more excited and into the groove of practicing consistently, you can slowly add new practice items in that are more challenging to keep you moving forward.
Missing a couple (or a few) weeks of practice isn’t the end of the world, especially if you’re able to focus on getting back on track. Throughout the year I typically play or teach the guitar up to 6 hours a day, so when the holidays come around, it’s a welcome break to give my hands (and brain) some time off of playing. The important thing is that I know it’s not something that is permanent, and over the years I’ve learned how to do this without it affecting my playing in a negative way. The biggest thing for me is that I do practice consistently throughout the rest of the year, and I always spend a few days slowly getting my hand flexibility and dexterity back into action after I’ve taken a break. So remember to warm up properly and to practice things slowly before working back up to full speed.
The biggest thing you can do for your motivation is to be around other players when you practice. It's akin to working out at the gym (with others) vs. working out at home (by yourself). If you happens to have a friend that plays, see if they’ll practice with you. It will force both of you to play for a set amount of time and not get distracted. Alternately, attending regular guitar classes is a surefire way to get your motivation and discipline back. Don’t be afraid to get back to your guitar lessons even if you haven’t practiced! Sometimes the best practice you’ll get can actually be during your lessons, so keep that in mind.
Not playing the guitar for a few weeks isn’t the end of the world. You didn’t lose the skills that you had, but you do need a bit of practice to get them back to where they were. Make sure to not extend your playing vacation any longer than you have already, because getting back on track is what’s going to make you feel good. After a few days of consistent practice you’ll feel like things are back to normal, whereas each day and week that goes by where you’re not practicing will only make you feel worse. The only way to succeed here is to make sure you get yourself back into a routine. What are your goals for this year? Write these down, pick up your guitar, and get your fingers moving!
About the Author: Jason Wilford runs Pro Guitar Studio and teaches guitar lessons in Mississauga