So I graduated with my DMA in Music Performance a few weeks ago. This is the first time in five years that I have had significant down time to enjoy. Last summer I had a total hip replacement and studied for my comprehensive exam. Other summers I have spent preparing recital music or studying because I knew my practice time during the school years would be limited due to a 2 hour a day commute, adjunct teaching, coursework, assistantship duties, family responsibilities, and ensemble practice.
Now I have the most free time I have had in years and I do not know how to handle it. I feel guilty if I play iPad games and work puzzles, yet I cherish the time goofing off with my daughter in her last summer before starting college, and time playing badminton with my son in the back yard. I suddenly have time to grow a garden, sip wine in the evening on the patio with my husband, sleep late, and exercise.
I also have time to look for new music to stimulate my interest and practice the flute in segments throughout the day instead of whenver I can find a block of time. I can revisit old favorite pieces for fun, do something unique and different for a local open mic night, and refine my Baroque performance practices with Bach sonatas that I learned in high school. I can work with colleagues to develop chamber groups and brainstorm for fresh teaching methods and ideas for my students.
So to answer my own question, I think a bit of a break is a great idea. Once in a very blue moon, I end up going for a whole week without touching my flute. When I come back to it, I feel refreshed and energized and so excited to play with it! My challenge is to let that guilt over not taking the flute on my first cruise to the Bahamas float away on an ocean breeze, because the break will be good for me in the long run.