School exams for many students can add extra demands to their already hectic schedule. A common complaint from students is they simply don’t have the time to focus on exam preparation and guitar practice. In this case it can seem like putting guitar on hold is an obvious choice but in my experience this is both unnecessary and may even be counterproductive.
Guitar + Study = Success
Realistically we can only study for so many hours a day. In fact research shows that after just 15 mins we begin to zone out. This means ideally we should take regular breaks or at least switch tasks. Guitar is ideal for this purpose. If students schedule their guitar practice in between study it will allow them a break from the study while keeping up their guitar practice.
The problem with stopping guitar
Stopping guitar for a month or more can put you behind considerably especially in the early years. What we find tends to happen is the month off turns into 3 months and almost zero practice. This has an unfortunate side effect. When the student returns to guitar it can feel like they are starting all over again. This is because the motor skills have basically gone to sleep. They are still there but they need to be woken up. For many students returning to guitar after a break unaware of this fact sometimes decide to just stop altogether.
Does stopping guitar really improve exam results?
I always recommend to guitar students not to stop but to instead work out a schedule with their teacher to at least get what I call maintenance practice done during exam times. The fact is life will always be presenting time challenges at almost any age. I think we need to be creative and find a way to balance guitar with life’s challenges. I honestly don’t feel that stopping guitar will improve your chances of success on your exams. I think it simply comes down to how well you manage your time.