Benefits from a break?

Hello, all.

Due to a sudden family illness, I had to pack up and leave the country for a couple of weeks. Being only 3.5 months into my guitar mission at that point, 2 weeks away had an understandably significant impact.

When I resumed my practice, I was very pleased to see that I hadn’t really forgotten anything; I remembered all of the chords and - with a little prompting - could still play the songs I’d learned. But I was definitely not as fast/dexterous as I had previously been.

BUT: Immediately, I loved the touch that I had with the instrument. It felt wonderful and intimate. I suspect the frantic and chaotic nature of travel and medical dysfunction left me exhausted so that I approached the guitar with, well, fatigue. I wanted to cultivate that feeling, so I took the next week to revisit almost everything I’d done in the previous months, but more slowly and deliberately. I wasn’t over-fretting anything anymore; I was keeping my thumb placed well most of the time; my string (noise) muting was vastly better - all at about 2/3 the pace of where I’d left off.

There was some sense of disappointment at having to “relearn” these things, but it was also exciting to realize that it felt so much more natural and “right” somehow. Now, a little over a week later, I feel like it was a gift to have that opportunity.

I’m sure it’s wishful thinking, but we all see the masters out there play “effortlessly” and we wonder if we can ever get there. To me, this felt like the beginning of that sensation, like the relaxation and doing what you can do well and at the pace that suits you is the best way to build from where you are.

Has anyone else had similar experiences, where you were away for awhile, came back and had fresh eyes/ears/fingers that adjusted your path for the better?

(I know. In a month I’ll be grinding my teeth and cursing the new thing that I can’t quite get down.)


I think that Justin has said that it is OK to take a week off playing guitar occasionally, especially if you are experiencing fatigue from too much practice.

On occasion I’ve had to take a week or ten days off due to travel. Every time I’ve worried that I’d lose ground, and every time the reality has been that I came back to the guitar feeling refreshed and enthused. If anything, I played a little better.

I’m reminded of my young days when I did power lifting. We would periodically take a week off, staying away from the gym completely, to avoid over-training and let the body recover. That was largely physical, but there was certainly a psychological aspect to it as well.


I have had this for several things over my life.

At about 16-18, I was trying to conquer a hill on my motocross motorcycle. I’d get about 1/2 to 2/3 up and then get stuck, either needing to stop and jockey the bike pointed down or falling over and needing to right it on a hillside and point it back down.
Winter was nearly over one year and I was dreaming of the opening day and completing my ride to the top. I went over it several times as I was waking up in the morning for a couple weeks.
The first time I tried it, I rode up like I had done it for years. No trouble, no slips, no effort. Just rode up. I was shocked at the top of hill looking down. I never had trouble ever again on that hill.

I have had this with strumming, a complex finger style, and a few other things. It is always surprising to me. I now just look forward to when it happens!


I definitely resonate with you. I had a break of half a year from ukulele and coming back to find myself being able to see the progress I’ve made( of course after getting used to it again). The same thing happened to me when I left my guitar for a few months, our neurons are more capable than we thought.


I remembered that Justin said that it is sometimes helpful to take a break in Rut Buster No. 10 in Module 21 (Grade 3). Sometimes taking a break helps you to come back refreshed.

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I’m with you! I was amazed at the feel and sound I was making yesterday! had surgery on my right hand last week and worried about how it would affect my practice and playing. Especially if my fingertips on my left hand would hurt again. I figured that I would just practice chords etc without strumming but I didn’t feel like doing anything for a week! So my guitar sat in its stand and I sat in my recliner. My right hand feels better so I picked my guitar up yesterday and did a short practice session. I was amazed at how well I was doing-compared to my last practice! Better finger placement, better chord changes, and more fun! So maybe a short break is a good thing. Funny how you hear that from Justin and others and it doesn’t sink in until you have to take a break! Lesson learned.

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Often a break turns into a good thing.
Don’t give up.

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Thanks, everyone. I continue to be amazed by the learning process and how our brains integrate new skills. It still doesn’t make intuitive sense to me, but I’ve seen it happen enough in myself and others to trust that it will continue.

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