Monday, September 09, 2019

The importance of breaks in rehearsals and singing workshops

I read two separate articles last week, both about the importance of taking breaks whilst you’re working.

It seems to be counter-intuitive to “waste time” by taking a break, but read on and find out why it’s important.

Robert Poynton has recently written a book called Do Pause: you are not a to-do list. There was an interesting summary article about it in The Observer: If you want to get things done, pause.

His basic idea is that taking time out is crucial.

A pause (or a gap or a space) can be for just a moment or last a whole year (e.g. going on a sabbatical).

It can help you be more creative (going on a walk when you have a creative block), put you back into the moment (adding a small pause before you conduct or speak), give you time out to evaluate (having a quiet, reflective moment at the end of each day), stop you being stressed (by reminding you to breathe). And so on.

I’ve written before about how important it is for singers and choir leaders to take breaks from their choir from time to time. But breaks are also important on a smaller scale when you’re rehearsing or in a singing workshop.

Liz Garnett wrote a blog post in the same week: On the value of downtime in rehearsal.

Many choirs and workshops have breaks in order that their singers’ social needs are met (loads of chatting in the tea break). But as Poynton has pointed out, breaks can also make your work more effective.

Sometimes plugging away at a difficult song is less effective than having  break and returning to it later. People get tired in rehearsals too and begin to lose focus over time. A ‘break’ could simply mean doing a very different activity, then returning to the song.

A pause can be even shorter: that moment of silence before the singers begin or the conductor makes the first gesture.

What do you think? Do you have enough breaks? Do you find them helpful or a waste of time?

You might like to read these other related posts too:

How many breaks should you have on a singing weekend?
The social side of singing: any excuse for a tea-break!

How to get people back after the break

Busily doing nothing – 5 reasons why downtime is important for singers and choir leaders

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Chris Rowbury




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