Why Healthy Habits Will Make You A Better Musician

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.

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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.

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  • Clare Keays - February 14, 2018 reply

    Hi there,
    Yes I totally agree. Keeping in good shape is the way to go. It’s a win win situation for everyone!!

    Clare

  • VeeDeshNee - February 15, 2018 reply

    Good read Straight white teeth. Thank you. I fully agree.

  • Yuvraj - February 15, 2018 reply

    True!

  • Stephen Iorio - February 15, 2018 reply

    I have been preaching this for years, thanks Patrick. I will share this too!!
    Steve

  • Kim Thompsett - February 15, 2018 reply

    Very salient points here…. and a timely reminder. I gave up drinking for just a month a while back and the effect on my vocals was quite unparalleled (in a good way). I haven’t quite mustered up the willpower to do it again but it’s well overdue! Especially like your point about the music being good and impactful – I rather tend to believe many of the demi-gods of music were/are gifted with supernatural powers. But then again, YouTube etc is filled with performances that are memorable for good reasons rather than bad reasons – it sets off a strange trail of emotions witnessing your legend having a bad night!

  • Lori Lynn - February 15, 2018 reply

    I have been taking supplement for years(aloe vera, chaga mushroom, maca powder etc.), I also work out at the gym two to threes times a week and eat a pretty good diet..This article offers rock solid advice…I am far more creative and focused when I feel good..I also belong to a local Music Guild that prohibits drugs and alcohol on the premises. That kind of environment helps artists and bands focus on what’s important…The Music.

  • Everisingsun - February 15, 2018 reply

    Great points! – Life isn’t easy, and everyone has their own vices in some way or another. It’s all about having a balance in life, knowing who you are and where you want to be. A healthy life is a longer, lasting life….and being a musician and the thought of still enjoying music and performing in the latter years of your life makes it more the reason to stay healthy!
    Everisingsun
    http://www.everisingsun.com

  • James Egnor - February 15, 2018 reply

    And yet Keith Richards oddly remains still alive….(being playful)….great article!

    James Carbonaro - February 16, 2018 reply

    Yes, but Keith Richards looks like he’s been dead for years.

    John F Brown - March 1, 2018 reply

    Keith Richards eats and lives clean so he can promote his brand of someone who doesn’t. So does Mick Jagger. His daughter was quoted by Bono when he was having Sunday brunch with Mick and his well behaved children as leaning over to Bono and saying ” Lots of people think my dad is Satan and he lets them.”
    You can’t pull it off if you don’t have it to do it.

  • ALMOND - February 16, 2018 reply

    YES THIS IS TRUE! TAKE CARE!

  • James Carbonaro - February 16, 2018 reply

    Saw an interview with John Lennon once. He talked about how, for a time there, Yoko had grown tired of his antics & she threw him out of the house. John said he wasn’t quite sure as to what to do, since he hadn’t been on his own since he was 17; since before Cynthia. So, he said he figured he’d do what he did back in 1957.

    He got together with a couple of his friends & they all went out & got good & drunk, got into a fight a fight at 1 bar, & been thrown out of another for being a bunch of drunken jerks. All in all, a splendid time was by all.

    But then the morning came, & he said he couldn’t even roll over in bed. And that’s when it struck him that he wasn’t 17 any more. At 34, he couldn’t stay out all night & then function properly the next day. He said he knew he was officially old, & begged Yoko to take him back.

    Back when I was a teenager, we all thought that we sounded so much better after we had had a little whiskey or wine. And we probably did play better when our nerves were calmed down a bit. But I haven’t been a teenager since the Bicentennial.

    Nowadays when I perform, I only drink seltzer; maybe with a little lemon or lime if I really want to splurge.

  • Jimmy - February 17, 2018 reply

    Most of the musicians at Free Recovery second the sentiment of this article, as we have tried both ways, the ‘rock’nroll’ lifestyle, and just trying to live life by look after ousselves. I must say, I prefer looking after myself – to the destructive alternative. Yeah, we had a few good times, but in the end, drugs, and alcohol, brought nothing but pain and suffering; and ultimately leads to jail, institutions or death. Keep it real and you will still rock \m/

    Free Recovery – For music that rips through your soul, like a grungy pair of ripped jeans! w w w .freerecovery.band

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