We’re spending more time than ever in front of screens. Between hopping on Zoom calls for work, checking the news online, and watching Netflix to unwind, it can feel like we’re bouncing from one platform to another all day.
For musicians and producers who rely on DAWs and onscreen collaboration tools, the struggle is real. Here are five foolproof ways to rest your eyes and mind when you’ve been staring too long into the pixelated abyss.
1. Play Your Instrument
Got an acoustic guitar, piano, synthesizer, or an SP-404 around? Pick it up and push some sound waves into the air. The visceral feeling of hearing those vibrations in the real-world, filling up the room around you, is incredibly therapeutic. You may feel time slow or disappear entirely. The next time you switch on your computer for that work meeting or family check-in, you’ll be brand new after your screen break.
2. Get Outside
Current events suggest we spend more of our time at home. Don’t discount the importance of fresh air to recharge your creative battery. For writers and composers, a walk around the block with a work-in-progress in your head can be a crucial part of the process. A few minutes outdoors can provide clarity that banging away at a track for hours may not.
3. Listen with Your Eyes Closed
Even while collaborating with other players online, you don’t have to focus all your attention on the screen. Just as we close your eyes in the rehearsal room, virtual jamming allows us to drift away and get lost in the moment. This works equally well for listening. Instead of watching YouTube with onscreen visuals, shut both eyes and let the song inspire your own video. As long as you’re not looking at the computer, the screen break still counts.
4. Learn by Ear
While there are online resources to learn nearly any song under the sun, nothing beats the feeling of learning by ear. Struggling with a new chord progression—stopping and starting to get that next voicing you know is right there—is great for our brain and lifts our spirits. Here’s a fun challenge. See if you can piece together a song or beat purely from memory. Once you’ve taken it as far as you can on your own, check an online source to see how well you did. Whether or not you got anywhere near the actual tune, you’ll have spent time as a practicing musician, and that’s its own reward.
5. Book It
Soft words on the written page are a balm for fatigued eyes. For musicians and producers working in the audio realm, moving to a different medium can provide an easy lift. Pick up a book—a new title or an old favorite—and read a few pages. As with practicing an instrument, the minutes may dissolve as you get lost in an engrossing story or biography. To keep the focus on music, check out this article on ten inspiring books for musicians.
There you have it: five sure-fire methods to give your eyes a break and let your mind explore different avenues. By the time you sit in front of the computer again, you could have a fresh perspective and a renewed sense of energy. You might even find yourself planning your next screen break.