We're getting into cold and flu season, which raises the question: how do you practice when you're too sick to play?
1.) Dig into your music and do some analysis. You don't have to be a theory wizard to do this; start by finding the skeleton. Analysis tends to fall by the wayside during personal practice, so take advantage of the fact that you aren't able to play and instead use your time to deconstruct your repertoire.
2.) Do some research! Educate yourself about the composers you're playing. See where they fall in music history, and if anything about their lives affected their works. Also, look up all the musical terms they used in the pieces you're playing, and make sure you know exactly what they mean.
3.) Listen to recordings of your repertoire. Check out performers on YouTube and iTunes. See how famous musicians play a certain piece, and also how amateurs and relatively unknown performers play it. You can learn a lot from both types of players; listen for what you like about their interpretation as well as what you would do differently. If you're working on a large ensemble piece, see if imslp.org has a full score available and follow along as you listen.
4.) Spend some time focusing on your technique. Work through tough passages silently (without blowing air through your instrument) so you can save your strength but still improve your finger work. Try changing the rhythms; see my earlier post about opposite practice for examples.
5.) If you haven't spent much time learning about music theory and music history, now is a good chance! Teach Me About Music is an interactive site with learning units covering medieval music up through present day. Teoria has music theory tutorials as well as ear training activities. Both sites make these subjects fun and engaging.
Being sick is no fun, but it doesn't have to interfere with your musical progress. Happy practicing and stay healthy!