Getting Away

Jeff Coffin

Is it important to have time away from your instrument? Is it important to have other areas of creativity that interest you? Is it important to find quiet time to explore your own personal silence? I feel that these things are not only important but are also necessary.

Quite a few years ago, a friend of mine told me that he periodically takes some time away from the drums. Sometimes, he said, it was a week or more. No playing, no practicing, and no gigs! I told him I thought he was crazy.

Well, it turns out he was right on! I don’t necessarily recommend taking that much time off at once, but I do recommend taking a break every now and again.

Benefits of Breaks

It’s important to recharge, and that time away can benefit your playing in many different ways. It can help you come back more focused. It can help you break out of certain playing patterns. It can help you listen with fresh ears. It can help you relax. It can help you tell better stories when you play because in your off time, you will have had some life experiences that you can share. It can help you be more emotionally present because you have had some time to be with yourself.

If you feel your chops will suffer from this break, do a few minutes of long tones every day, so that the muscles stay tuned up.

Other Creative Outlets

Personally, when I get away, I do a lot of photography, and I spend time being creative, so that those habits transfer to what I do musically. I believe that if we want a creative life, we need to pursue it daily. It doesn’t mean not taking care of business or being lax about things, quite the opposite. It means, in order to do what we want to do, we have to be fully on top of the responsibilities that allow us to do that. Find some you time, so that when it comes time to share your gifts, you can be in your top creative form.

About author

Jeff Coffin

Jeff Coffin is a three-time Grammy Award winning saxophonist, composer, educator, and author. He has been a band member of Dave Matthews Band since 2008.  Jeff also teaches at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee. Jeff has published “The Saxophone Book,” co-wrote “The Articulate Jazz Musician” with Caleb Chapman, and released “The Road Book” in late 2019. Jeff is a Yamaha and D’Addario Performing Artist and Clinician.  Visit and for more information.