With the summer gigs in full steam with more and more people hosting events with live music, musicians are busy! It's great to have a full week of performances but it's also easy to run yourself down. There are a few simple things to try to keep your mind and body healthy as you stay busy with shows.
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1) Have a Ritual
Having a steady, consistent, practice that you go through each time you pick up your instrument can offer stability in a constantly changing environment/stage. Doing the same thing each time you perform will inform you about your current state of mind. If you play the exact same warm-up exercise each time you sit down at the keys you'll get messages from your body and brain about where you might feel different that day. It can also be a fantastic grounding exercise when you get on stage. By playing something you're comfortable and familiar with, it allows you to recall the mental state of practicing at home by yourself while performing in front of hundreds of people. It's habit!
2) Respect Your Body
Your body is the vehicle that allows you to do the amazing things us musicians do - and you only get one! It's important to rest your body and respect signals it might be giving you. Make sure to stretch tight muscles, sleep well, eat well, and wear ear plugs at loud performances or concerts. While a little alcohol might be your drink of choice as a singer to loosen you up before performing, it can also make it harder for your body to do its job. As a drummer I can always feel last night's drink when I play. I would rather skip out on a beer than deal with what feels like tired, dehydrated hands.
3) Be Prepared
If you're too busy to practice the tunes for the next gig, you're not going to have a great time at that performance. Make sure you leave some time no matter what for yourself to prepare material, practice, and practice the skills that ultimately allow you to make music. Practice your instrument, and learn the songs. If your chops are lacking or you are unsure of the bridge of the tune you're playing, it creates so much more mental stress and anxiety than just working on things ahead of time. Plus, it's more sustainable to have a repeat gig than learning brand new material each time you play. If you can invest time in learning a band's repertoire, you can probably get away with jumping into shows with little or no rehearsal time. If you want to get hired again, make sure you know the songs.
4) Don't Sacrifice Yourself
Learn to say no to things that encroach on your personal time. You can't be expected to perform at a high level if your body and mind is aching for a day off. It will not only benefit you, but it will also benefit every band you play with and improve your performance at every show. Try to mark one day on your calendar each week where you do not schedule any gigs or practices. You cannot sustain a lifestyle where you constantly give without receiving, and your capabilities will certainly diminish without maintaining a solid foundation.
5) Go Easy On Yourself
Once the performance is over, i's over. It's out there. It's been heard, the notes have escaped from your instrument into the air and evaporated. There's nothing you can do to change any of it, so it's important to let it go. Don't immediately critique yourself after a show has ended and be okay with small mistakes (everyone makes them). Move on. Practice. Improve. Perform. Repeat. As musicians, we're so used to criticizing ourselves and we never seem to focus on the good, only the negative things. Go easy on yourself and give yourself credit where credit is due. You're incredible at what you do and you deserve kindness, especially from yourself.