Being in college as an undergraduate or a graduate student is a lot more difficult than people like to think it is. Especially in the school of music, where what we do as musicians isn’t necessarily always physically taxing. But, music takes a lot of skill, effort, time, and mental focus to do well, and that can take a toll on your mental health.
If you peek at your class syllabi, you might find a sentence or two on excused absences. This is something that can be easily overlooked, but is so important to see what your specific professor’s policies are. Sometimes professors allot a couple days for unexcused absences, while others expect an email beforehand if you know you’ll miss class. Whatever the case may be, use these to your advantage! You won’t be able to be fully present in your classes if you need to rest, whether that be physically or mentally.
Again, college is hard! It can be stressful, especially when you factor in your personal life, your social life, romantic relationships, etc. If you feel that you need time to rest, take the time to rest. Something my violin professor Dr. Koo said in a studio class recently is this; “resting is more important than practicing”, and that is so true! How many times have you gotten into the practice room, opened your instrument case, and realized you are having a hard time focusing because you are exhausted? I’ve had my fair share of those days, and it really does make a difference to rest instead of forcing yourself to practice in those instances. I am a huge proponent of napping (much to my parent’s chagrin), but also rest is super important because during the school year you are playing your instrument a lot. Various ensembles, your lesson materials, auditions, among many other obligations take up a lot of your time and can take a toll on your body if you are not careful. I’ve seen violin performance majors have to switch their major by the end of their degree program because they sustained an injury from playing too much, or pushing through pain. Especially if you feel any pain while playing, stop and make sure to discuss it in your next lesson!
Rest is productive, and it is necessary as musicians to make sure we are being kind to our minds and our bodies. Bottom line; if you need to rest, rest!
Today, a university-wide non-instruction day, I was struggling to begin practicing my violin. The thought of it seemed overwhelming like it was too daunting of a task, and my mind began to throw evaluative statements at me, like “it’s not going to be good enough, you should’ve started earlier in the day, why aren’t you being productive?”, which made it even harder to begin. So, around 5:30 pm, I forced myself to stop watching Youtube videos, trying to distract myself from the stress, and took my roommate’s puppy on a walk around the block, focusing on breathing in the cool spring air. Then, I decided to sit down and write this blog post!