Thursday, August 21, 2014

Instrument Maintenance

As instrumentalists, we are constantly aware of the steps we need to take to maintain our instruments. New strings need to be installed. Pads need to be replaced. Sadly, student musicians sometimes neglect the maintenance due to the expense involved. I am convinced that another type of maintenance is equally important for our success: the personal maintenance of our bodies.

The musician's physical body is integral to the production of good sound. We must ensure our physical health through proper nutrition, exercise, and adequate rest. Additionally, performing artists may find that support devices such as wrist braces allow the body to heal while preventing further irritation and damage from unnatural movements. Massage therapy can also be helpful in relaxing muscles in order to allow them to function properly.

Our mental, spiritual, and emotional health cannot be overlooked either. In order to be a healthy musician, we must seek out methods to release stress. Some find activities such as reading, hiking, or crossword puzzles helpful in calming the mind's activity. I enjoy using prayer journals and meditation to clear my thoughts while connecting me to the strength I find in my own spiritual pursuits. Regular conferences with a trusted mentor or professional counselor can also be useful in dealing with issues related to our mental health. Regardless of the methods you employ, the important thing is to make sure that you are carefully maintaining the most important parts of your instrument -- your body, mind, spirit, and emotions.