The Summerglen Files

Music, Creativity, and Everyday Life at Summerglen Music in Raleigh, NC

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Taking Care of Yourself as a Musician

April 22nd, 2008 · No Comments

Whew! I just finished up my busiest week of this year so far–a 3-hour-long opera orchestra performance every night, 4 daytime gigs, and my regular schedule of private students. It feels good to work so much, but burning the candle at both ends for too long can take its toll on anybody, including musicians! When running from gig to gig, it’s easy to gobble down way too much fast food in your car, and skip out on exercise because you don’t have enough time. I, in fact, did that this week (and now I feel rotten)! So here are some things I’m doing right now to get myself back into good working order for the next round of gigs.

1. Take a day off. Yesterday, I did not practice. As musicians, we are told that we need to practice every day, and work for hours on learning our material and developing better technique. But for brass players especially, sometimes a day without playing can be the best practice you can do. Because we brass players make extensive use of our facial muscles, we can easily risk overuse injuries by practicing too much! When my chops feel like ground beef one day, I take the next day off. When I resume playing, I sound and feel MUCH better!

2. Eat veggies! I’m a vegetarian, so you’d think I naturally eat healthy foods all the time. Well, no. Muffins, pastries, greasy cheese pizza, and various selections from Taco Bell don’t contain meat, and while they’re great to eat once in a while, they’re pretty murderous if you eat them all at once for days at a time. Ugh. I went to the store yesterday and bought a basketful of fresh, colorful veggies and good protein sources like veggie chicken strips. Instead of stopping by a fast food joint on the way to play Gounod’s St. Cecilia Mass later this week, I will feast on veggie stir-fry instead.

3. Exercise, at least a little bit. Playing music is a physical activity, so exercise helps us play more easily and with more strength, lungpower, and endurance. Exercise is also the exact opposite of sitting in an orchestra pit for hours on end! Whereas the orchestra pit will make you feel cramped and contorted, a few minutes of yoga will stretch you out and make you feel relaxed. It’s easy to be too busy to exercise…but the rotten feeling you get after a few sedentary days isn’t worth the time you’re supposedly saving!

This week, I have 3 evenings of Gounod, a party in another state, a symphony concert, and my regular schedule of students. Last week I tried no exercise and junk food, and the result wasn’t pretty. So this week I’ll try a bit of yoga or walking, and crispy veggies, and we’ll see what happens!

Tags: Practice Tips · staying healthy

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