Friends, it’s that time of the semester. That time when I am too tired to do hardly anything and I am simultaneously super stressed out about all of it. I find it hard to focus on anything, and I daydream about naps and junk food. My practice sessions feel like a chore, and even when they get done I feel like I got nothing accomplished. I feel disappointed that I can’t seem to do anything as well as I “should,” but I know if I push myself any harder I just might break.

Ever felt this way?

Welcome, my friends, to burnout.

It can happen to anyone.

You might be saying, “I’m not burnt out. I love music, I love my instrument! I just need to work harder!“ Yup, I’ve definitely said that to myself, too. But be careful: burnout can be a slippery slope to self-deprecation, injury, or even illness if you don’t recognize it for what it is and take care of yourself with a little break. If you don’t, your body will force you to take one, one way or another.

Step away from all of your music-making activities for a moment and read on to discover some ideas that can help you reset and feel re-energized.



Everyone always says this, and I am usually one of the people that thinks, “Outside?? Who has the time??”, but after some long walks that totally cleared my head, I am admittedly part of “everyone” and will tell you--go outside. You can walk, run, hike, bike, dance, swim, or literally just sit there. But taking some time to just breathe fresh air, feel the ground (real ground) underneath your feet, and observe your surroundings does wonders for your mental health. I have literally never come back inside from a walk or run where I thought “what a waste of time.” Even though my tasks are still waiting for me, I feel much calmer about approaching them after spending some time in nature.

Enjoy a Hobby

Hobbies? What are those? I am also the person who can’t come up with an answer to this question because all of my hobbies involve my profession. If I’m not teaching music, I’m practicing, or listening to music, or score studying….you get the idea. Friends, I’m here to tell you:

It is okay to have hobbies that don’t involve music. You will still be a great musician--probably an even better one.

Before I started pursuing music as a career, I LOVED to do crafts, bake, organize (I know this one’s lame but it literally brings me so. much. joy.), and keep up with some good TV shows. And guess what? I still love those things, I just never give myself time to do them anymore. Focusing on hobbies for a while can give your brain the much-needed space it needs to process all that you’ve got going on, and can help you stay fresh when you come back to your to-do list. Give yourself the permission to do that thing you haven’t done in forever but love to do!


Friends aren’t just those people you see at rehearsal all the time. Whether your friends are musicians or not, take some time to connect. It could be a happy hour or coffee during normal times, or a Zoom hang with the pandemic still going on, but connecting with people you love is so important for your mood and energy. Trust me--I’m a huge introvert and can go way too long without talking to any people before I realize that a lack of connection is what’s got me in such a funk.

Plus, your friends love you, too! If you need some encouragement about how things are going because you just don’t feel like you’re killin’ it as much as you usually do, they’ve got your back.

Seek Inspiration

Taking some time away from your music-making really is okay every once and awhile. When was the last time you even gave yourself enough time apart from music to miss it? For me, this is the best indicator that I’ve cared for myself enough to come back to practicing. And when you’re ready, here are some good ways to ease yourself back into your routines with some new inspiration.

  • Listen to an interview with one of your music heroes, or a podcast about music. I personally love the following:

Musician’s Guide to Being Healthy, Wealthy, and Wise

The Bulletproof Musician


  • Journal about a piece or an etude you’re working on. Tell a story. What does this piece mean to you? What do you want to communicate? Answering these questions can give you some new perspectives to make your next practice session even more fruitful.

  • Listen to an album by your favorite soloist or ensemble. Just listen, with no agenda. Don’t look at a score, don’t analyze. Just take it in and remember what brought you to music in the first place.


Taking time to recover from burnout is great, but taking time for these activities regularly can also help prevent it in the future, which is even better. Let me be an example and a reminder to you that self-care isn’t selfish. It helps you to be the best musician (and human) that you can be!

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