Playing the rests- the importance of stopping

I used to have piano lessons and I actually got really, really far with it- grade 8. Doing that at the same time as A Levels was a really, really stupid thing to do but that’s another brain-fart! So one of the most important things that my piano teacher always used to really hit me hard on was playing the rests. The rests brought form to pieces and helped them to make sense. Sometimes the rests gave listeners a moment to make sense of what they heard; sometimes they created tension; they made you stop and gasp for the next moment of the music. It was one of the building blocks of pieces, whether it’s a little, short one like Three Blind Mice or a Beethoven Sonata, or Bach’s Passions. Music needs rests. Rests give everything form, and make it make sense.

So why are we cutting down rests, breaks, pauses, downtime, anything that isn’t ‘productive time’ from kids in schools and also from teachers and support staff. We are told constantly that we need to take time for ourselves, be kind to ourselves, look after ourselves, don’t overwork, separate work from home etc. Schools have well-being that-that-and-the-other. Academy chains have a well-being team. Department Heads are buying chocolates for team members. Most of these boosts are done with good heart and from a place of actually trying to help. But pressure them piles on from waaaaaay above and the well-being suggestions just seem to fall further down the list of stuff to do. So teachers get stressed and worn down, and then they start to leave.

I’m lucky because most of my working time, aside of the two days a week I’m in school, is assessments and project-based so I can move it about and take every Wednesday out of working. I do. I don’t do any paid work on Wednesdays, particularly if I have something booked in on the Saturday, literally so that I can pause midweek and let dust settle and have things make sense. I need my rest. I absolutely need my rest and I take it. I don’t work over days where I shouldn’t. I don’t work on a Sunday (COVID has changed that once but not again) and we make sure we take family days. I don’t feel guilty either, and I don’t feel guilty for not doing school work at all hours. I work hard and I love what I do but taking time out makes me work better.

Rest is important. Rest is utterly vital.

So why on earth are ‘them that are’ peddling this ridiculous notion that we need longer school days for ‘catchup’ (who is catching up what?!?!), and shorter holidays for continuity (our hols are some of the shorter ones in the world)?! Kids need a break and I need a break. I work blooming hard, but I need a break.

There are words I’d use now, but my Mum always said that if I wouldn’t say it in front of her, or wouldn’t want her to read it, don’t put it on line. So those words will stay in my head and turn my brain blue, rather than your screens!

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