Play music as a work or study break

Though I’ve been playing music for years, I still don’t have the best practice habits. I get wrapped up in computer work related to FiddleHed: maintenance, answering customer emails, designing new lessons and courses, etc. All of a sudden it’s 10:30 p.m. and I haven’t even played music.

So I’ve decided to do an experiment. Take 15-minute breaks to play music. In the dawning age of remote work, this seems like a practice that others could benefit from as well.

Here are some questions I’d like the experiment to answer.

  • Does this break derail my thinking from my daily work? Or do I feel refreshed when I return?
  • Is 15 minutes too little time? Is it a tease? Do I want to continue to play for an hour?
  • Am I actually doing productive music practice, or is it more of a fun break?

Studies that show listening to music while you work lowers stress while boosting concentration and memory. Personally, I like ambient instrumental music when doing more menial tasks. I cannot concentrate when there are words.

Podcasts, talkshows, and news shows are edited with short music clips in between the speaking. It’s a little time and space for the brain to reflect and absorb the information.

As part of this experiment, I also want to do a little learning and research into how music affects learning.

Let me know if you also want to take part in the experiment. Also, please share any insightful books or articles on cognition and music.

7 responses to “Play music as a work or study break

  1. I love this idea! Actually I do this too. I have always used music–both listening to it and playing it–as a way to relax, so if I get too stressed out, reaching for my guitar or fiddle is way way way better than going online when I’m feeling the need to procrastinate. I need to do more of this!

  2. Great Lesson…little gains here and there! Ive always tried to stay to a fixed practice schedule. Sometimes dedicated…other times not so. This idea is great…fits right into any schedule! 🙂

  3. Heya Jason,
    I have music playing truly *all* the time at home–except when I practice 😊 (I have no TV)– and also at work where I’m away from civilization for 3 weeks–( a remote area of Alaska but I can stream music). My job is stressful and, I tell ya, music is everything to me! I will work up to 18 hours a day and I will just at least pick up the fiddle and play open strings in the mirror to get my bow placement correct.
    I also listen to music working out in the morning–cardio and weights (I’ve been listening to Natalie MacMaster’s fiddling again, to allow me to hear rhythms).
    When I decide to work on a tune (like Swallowtail Jig), I download it and will listen to it throughout the day to “get it in my bones.”
    A book I find helpful for developing habits to cultivate is THE POWER OF HABITS and ATOMIC HABITS which can be applied to anything including practicing my fiddle.
    I would be honored to be part of your experiment! 😊
    Thanks again, for all you do!
    -Dina

  4. Heya,
    Playing fiddle during the day as a break from work is a great thing if you can. It helps me releasing stress at work and getting back to work while being happy. It is a better habit than eating a snack as I see it. And some powerful energy comes out of it (transforming stress into an energetic version of a tune?).

    The only book I have read about the violin is a mind-blowing book called “Le violon intérieur” (in French, by Dominique Hoppenot). It analyses what helps a violinist to sound good, how to concentrate and find natural body positioning, where stress comes from, and how to release the fear of playing in public. I have not found any English version yet. I will keep reading it as every time I read it I understand new parts of the book as I am learning to fiddle.

    I agree that the book atomic habits helped me in anchoring my habit of playing the fiddle every day: defining a preexisting habit and anchor your fiddle playing routine to this old habit. And as Jason says it: PLAY EVERY DAY !

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