Time is surely the most precious commodity we all have, and there is nothing more critical to your success as a player than utilizing your “practice” time effectively. I make sure that no matter how crazy my day may be, what with work, students, gigging and more, I must always try to take some time for some good and peaceful guitar playing! First of all, there is nothing more relaxing or stimulating for the soul than playing, and it simply can’t help but make one a better player, for sure! I’m sure that you’ve noticed that when you don’t play enough, there is an immediate negative effect on your playing, and a kind of “rustiness” that unfortunately settles in. This can be easily remedied by playing again, but your “re-entry” must be on the gentle side, as we don’t want to do too much playing, too soon. You can end up with sore tendons, or the bane of my existence, painful callouses!
I can remember when I was working with one of my all-time heroes, Buddy Guy, in Chicago for his Hot Licks video for me, and him telling me that he finds it refreshing to occasionally “get away from the guitar” for a while. I can definitely see this, especially for someone like him, who must perform a gig practically every night, and who like myself, plays real hard: lots of bending, vibrato, and just overall hard work. For a consummate pro such as Buddy Guy, I can definitely see this “break” being necessary. I also from time to time need a break, especially after doing many weeks or even months of hard teaching. The act of teaching actually can sometimes hurt more than regular performing. Both are very intense, but the “concentrated” act of teaching, where one is always focusing on the repetitive nature of such things as bending, can really take a toll on my hands, and I really will need a break sooner or later.
All that being said, I feel that making sure you play with good purpose and creative drive will be an invaluable tool for yourselves, and it should be done as often as you can. If you are starting to teach, you should, as I do, also use that time as a period that also helps build your “chops “ as a player. I always feel good that when I am doing a lot of teaching, it helps me come up with new ideas, as well as simply building up my “chops” even without realizing it! This is one of the great benefits of guitar teaching, for sure, and you should take advantage of it! Don’t think of that time teaching as a kind of “throwaway” time, but more as an invaluable time of being able to also benefit yourself!
So whether you’re just starting out, intermediate or even teaching already, I recommend always utilizing these times as precious moments which you can truly benefit from as much as possible. Take full advantage of all that playing time!