Usually there are blog posts every Monday but, since this week was Christmas, you'll have to excuse the lateness of this post; I've been resting.
It's almost a foreign concept in the music world. We work late night gigs, take every session and wedding casual we can fit into our schedule, juggle a studio of private students in addition to our ever-changing workload and wear, "I've been busy" like a badge of honor.
But in reality, the late nights, long days, heavy workload and inconsistent scheduling might be keeping us from achieving the greatness we've confused with business. So as we come off the busy holiday season, here are two solid reasons to put your work and instrument aside for a while and give your body and mind some time to recover.
1. We Need Sleep
It's no wonder top athletes in all fields have sleep scheduled into their training routines. In fact, US Olympic Rugby Team Captain, Madison Hughes, found his sleeping routine, with late nights and late mornings, was causing him to feel fatigued and drowsy, limiting his performance and effectiveness. He now gets eight hours of sleep every night knowing that, although the discipline is difficult, it is the amount of sleep he needs to perform at his best.
Considering musicians are essentially upper-body athletes, working and reworking specific muscle groups to peak performance and control, we should be aware of the effects sleep has on our performance abilities.
So if we lost a lot of sleep over the holidays, what can we do? Well, luckily, sleep sleep works slightly like a bank and we can deposit a few extra hours back in to catch up.
While nothing can take the place of the sleep we've lost from a weekend of late night/early morning gigs and teaching we can undo our "sleep debt", the difference between the amount of sleep we got and the amount of sleep we need, by adding extra hours to future nights of sleep. Most people need between six to eight hours of sleep each night. So if you only banked five hours Saturday, head to bed early on Sunday night and aim for nine.
2. Our Muscles Need To Recover
Every athlete is taught the importance of rest days. At the very least, a heavy emphasis is put on cross-training so that different muscle groups are alternating between cardio and strength training or high impact and low impact.
This holiday season it seemed a lot of musicians were excited for the 25 days of gigs they had lined up leading to Christmas. While making the extra money is great! And, yes, posting the bragging-rights we've earned on social media feels fulfilling, we are forcing our body to engage in daily repetitive stress activities for 25 days in a row.
Russell Wynter, a NASM (National Academy of Sports Medicine) Master Trainer advises having "at least one day of rest before attempting to work similar muscle groups again." Wynter goes on to explain that working out "breaks your body tissues down... causing microscopic tears. Rest days allow your muscles, nerves, bones, and connective tissues time to rebuild.”
The same thing happens to a musician when we practice. Microscopic tears occur in our muscles and tendons and require adequate healing time. If not we run greater risks of injury, dips in performance, sleep problems, poor immune systems, and a decrease in mental acuteness. In fact, the best way to grow our muscular endurance and accuracy is by allowing our muscles time to grow through rest.
So don't sweat it this week if you don't sweat and instead your instrument stays happily in it's case. You're not loosing time prepping for the next thing. You're preparing by resting. Definitely don't feel pressured to sang a New Year's Eve gig or worry if January is slow. It's set-up time for greatness because if you want to set your body (and career) up for maximum success, you need to give it time to rest!
If the best athletes in the world do it, why can't the best musicians? So remember this week to train like an athlete to play like a musician.
Health and happiness,