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September 14, 2008 / alunatunes

September 14- RECESS!


Dangermuffin mixes up some music...

Dangermuffin mixes up some music...

“All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy….” – THE SHINING

Who can forget the image of the desheveled Jack Torrence (Jack Nicolson) in Stanley Kubrick’s THE SHINGING, dully sitting at his typewriter in the isolated Overlook Hotel  “working on his novel” but typing the above phrase over and over on hundreds of sheets of paper? Jack Torrence was sleep deprived and suffering from writer’s block. As frightening as that notion is, and as terrifying as it was to watch Jack unravel, it can happen to any creative intellect. We of the creative spirit must take the gift of divine inspiration when she presents herself. And she rarely presents herself to unhealthy, sleep deprived, overworked, tired musicians. How many of us take breaks from touring to write new material? 

It’s essential when you are plowing your field of dreams to take breaks. Remember you are manifesting thought into action and the physical and mental requirements to bring your dreams to fruition are demanding. Actively pursuing your music dream may require long hours writing, rehearsing, recording, mixing, negotiating contracts, traveling in vans, and living and working in cramped quarters. The mental and physical drain of being a musican becomes evident in sleep deprivation, drug use and a frazzled body, soul and mind.

A ten minute break can mean the difference between a productive session of planning or implementing and a total breakdown of ability to function. Incorporate small exercises that can refresh you and bring oxygen to your brain into your daily routine. Breathing takes no special equipment. Nutrition and exercise guru Dr Andrew Weil believes a series of deep cleansing breaths three times a day force oxygen to your brain. Breath in through your nose, keeping your tongue behind your front teeth, for a four count. Hold the breath for a 7 count and open your mouth and release to an 8 count, making a whooshing sound as you do so. Don’t be alarmed if you feel dizzy after a series of three breaths. The simple act of drawing a good deep meaningful breath is revitalizing and soothing all at once. Walking is a wonderful stress buster, can be done anywhere and only takes a good pair of sneakers. It’s interesting to note musicians whose careers have spanned decades have substituted alcohol and drugs for portable weight machines and personal trainers.

Overwork is just as detrimental as underwork. Overwork leads to burnout, underwork leads to lethargic apathy. Strive for a balance of work and pleasureable activities. It’s understandable that your work, creation of your music, IS your most pleasurable activity, but seek out and adopt simple hobbies to balance the pursuit of your hopes with real life. Crossword puzzles, word games, books that are NOT about music, coloring books, colored pencils, and hand held games are all portable ways to distract yourself from work.

Pablo Picasso believed that “your work in life… is the ultimate seduction.” He also believed his paintings were another way of keeping a diary. For musicians it’s very easy to confuse work with your life. You are not your work. Your work is an expression of your individuality and your innate fire, but it is not who you are as a person.

Treat yourself to an hour on the playground. Read a favorite light book or magazine. Play with an animal or engage a child in a game of catch. Work a jigsaw puzzle, dig in the dirt, swing or play on the monkey bars. Your musician self will appreciate a break.

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