For about as long as musicians have been writing music and performing, the world of music has been synonymous with things like terrible diets, late nights, and copious amounts of booze and drugs. But while unhealthy lifestyles make for good television, they can be hell on a musician’s body. If making and performing music is something you plan on doing for the rest of your life, the bad habits you form now could keep you from being your best, or stop you in your tracks completely. It’s not sexy, but learning how to take care of yourself will make you a better musician.
Stop glorifying self-destructive habits
We can all name plenty of aging music icons who drank like fishes and took every drug known to man for decades and are still standing, but you know who the music industry never talks about? The countless number of hugely talented songwriters and performers who let addiction, health issues, and self-destructive habits ruin their careers. Yes, music often goes hand-in-hand with a certain sense of freedom associated with touring and making music, but most musicians will eventually have to reckon with the fact that they’re mortal beings that require healthy food, sleep, and consistent periods of sobriety just like everyone else. Eating healthy food and exercising might seem too normal for some musicians, but we all have bodies that need to be taken care of.
If you’re interested in being the absolute best musician you can be, then take a minute and ask yourself if you’re associating self-destructive habits without realizing it. Our culture has a bad habit of glorifying addiction and depression in musicians, but while many incredible musicians throughout history made music while living through the unhealthiest of lifestyles, it doesn’t mean repeating their bad habits will make you someone worth remembering. Only making and performing impactful music can do that.
How a healthy lifestyle will improve your musicianship
You might not always think about it while you’re playing, but your body is directly linked to your musicianship. Sure, you can get by with sleeping a couple of hours a night and putting nothing but chips and beer in your belly for weeks on end, but your body will hate you for it. And when your body isn’t being taken care of, things like concentration, energy, and technical prowess go down the toilet. Whether you’re a composer who mainly writes using a computer or a bassist in a metal band, neglecting your body has consequences.
If you’ve been at the music game for a long time and you constantly feel burned out, this could be a major reason why. Try exercising, getting more sleep, and eating things that aren’t garbage for a month and you’ll be shocked when you see how much it improves your musicianship. Excluding folks who musically thrive only by way of misery, it should improve your musicianship and overall health in ways you couldn’t imagine.
Patrick McGuire is a musician, writer, and educator currently residing in the great city of Philadelphia. He creates music under the name Straight White Teeth, and has a great affinity for dogs and putting his hands in his pockets.