Intro

With today marking the 151st birthday of this great nation I am proud to call home, I wanted to write a little bit and pay homage to my homeland. As many of you know, I’m on the road with Midnight Shine, playing drums and living my dream (or one of them!) as a professional musician. I get back home to Calgary in the wee hours of the morning tomorrow, spend a couple days getting my life organized and then fuel up, pack the Tiguan and rip across the country to make a new home in Toronto. It seems fitting that I tip my hat to the beautiful nation I’ll soon be driving across (again) in a few short days. I’ve had a few flights these last few days that have taken me to places I’d never get to see otherwise, so I’m just paying my respect back to the lands.

In The Pocket

It’s surreal. These whole last few months have been. I’m ecstatic to see what’ next, but before I get too crazy, I wanted to tie in a term us drummer use for when you just lay low, let the music speak for itself and just groove. It’s called being in the pocket. A lot of drummers have a hard time staying in the back. A lot of very talented drummers especially want to showboat, impress the girls or I don’t even know what else… but they have a hard time serving the song.

I like to think of staying in the pocket as being neutral. Coasting; not forcing anything to happen. No outcome is right or wrong, just an opportunity to explore and be adventurous. Much like in say, jazz or reggae… the jam happens, much like life. The song could go anywhere… and if you have the wherewithal to just loosen up your grip on the sticks of life, you’ll get carried the right way out of the bridge. Just trust yourself.

Outro

I wanted to take the time to thank Midnight Shine and everyone that’s a part of the team for trusting me with the sacred project. No matter what happens next I have a lifetime of memories and lifelong friends. I’ve had the opportunity to share the stage with absolute legends of the music industry like Blue Rodeo and Colin James, shared drums with childhood heroes Wide Mouth Mason and I’ve met some seriously awesome humans on this stint. I am ever so grateful for the opportunities, but also recognize that I earned them.

It’s amazing what kind of song can form when you learn to stay in the pocket.

Thanks for listening,

Happy Canada Day.

xo

M

PS. Here are some of the highlights from tour. For the full story, head to my Instagram account. Click the “tour” button and watch front to back the happenings on the road with Midnight Shine.  @usetheschwartzy

 

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Hey folks, it’s been a minute. I know. Lots has gone on out here in Toronto, as I hear up for my panel on Thursday. So much excite. So much still to get done.

This city is beautiful. There’s something to be said about fitting in vs. belonging. One of my favourites, Simon Sinek dug up an article written by one David Mead that speaks to that eloquently right here: Fitting in vs. Belonging

I have had a bit of a time trying to stay mindful and in full practice of my habits and behaviours, but wowza! It’s tough in the road. I want to be better at just reading my lessons and staying in touch with my athletes, but it’s rather difficult living out of a suitcase. Pleasant reminder of why I’m doing what I’m doing in the first place. I can only imagine the difficulty for an artist who’s not trained in this stuff.

I ran a 10km with my new friend and fellow panelist, Andre. That was certainly a bright point as far as fitness on the road went. Just under an hour too. There’s been a silly amount of walking (north of 10km every day…) but I just started running with Dre at his condo and once we started talking…

Goes to show the value of social support. And that’s where I’ll leave it today. If you’re immersed in an environment that doesn’t fully support your behaviour, your goals, your drive… the likelihood of you reaching your goals significantly falls. Keep that in mind when you receive a response that isn’t what you’d like from your tribe. It may be time to expand that tribe.

Cheers from TO,

XO

Stress. It’s a real thing. The last couple of months have shown us how important wellness really is. Unfortunately the repercussions of not being well, physically and/or mentally, have taken the lives of many of our beloved industry colleagues. The darkness of anxiety, depression and addiction is slowly coming to light. And for good reason. Nowadays it’s very rare to come across someone that says “no” when asked if they’re feeling stressed. It’s become engrained to the hustle-bustle, 60 hour work week we all know and love to hate. But does it have to be like this? Not a chance. Here are my top 3 picks to help alleviate stress and get you back to being the best version of yourself.

The number one thing you should do when you’re struggling with something is talk to a professional for help. Yes, your friends can lend an ear, but unless they’re trained professionals you’re not getting the full meal deal. Speaking to a professional counsellor, therapist and/or a psychiatrist will help you identify the root of the stress and they’ll then be able to provide you with the right resources to get you back in action, stat. I still go to therapy and I would recommend it to anyone who’s seeking direction, closure from a relationship, financial advice, how to conquer their fears or anything that’s got them feeling down, stressed, helpless or worse yet – suicidal. It’s serious. Below I’ve included a few links to some services ’round these parts and a brief description of what they do.

Elephant Artist Relief
  • Great local resource with everything from funding options, financial aid to counselling etc… connectors to all aspects of better well-being

Distress Centre 

  • 24/7 crisis support for Calgary and southern Alberta. These fine folks do not define crisis and are there for anyone at any time. This is their 24-Hour Crisis Line: 403.266.HELP (4357) and you can find them on the web at http://www.distresscentre.com/contact-us/

Unison Benevolent Fund

  • Non-Profit registered charity that provides counselling and emergency relief services to the Canadian music community. They help professional music makers in times of hardship, illness or economic difficulties. Here’s their assistance number 1-855-986-4766 and website – http://unisonfund.ca
  • We actually have a “Mental Health and Wellbeing” Download session happening Wednesday, March 21 at 6:30pm in Calgary session for Alberta Music members. Amanda Power from Unison Benevolent Fund will be joining me on the panel, so be sure to head here to save your seat in Calgary (if you’re not a member, get on it! You get free access to the awesome programming – albertamusic.org/membership)
  • I actually had the treat of interviewing the Executive Director of Unison, Shiela Hamilton back last fall. Hear our conversation about Unison Benevolent Fund and how us artists can utilize their services here Shiela Hamilton – Unison Benevolent Fund 

2. Journal and Meditate 

Oftentimes, just putting the proverbial pen to paper (talk about alliteration!) can remedy a lot of stress in our lives. A new brain imaging study by UCLA psychologists reveals why verbalizing our feelings makes our sadness, anger and pain less intense. [Read the full article here]

As far as meditation goes, this is a favourite quote of mine:

“You should sit in meditation for twenty minutes everyday – unless you’re too busy; then you should sit for an hour.”

I personally like to use an app called “Headspace” for my mediation and another app called “Daylio” for tracking my mood and a daily journal entry.

However, I don’t like being on my phone. I find it’s actually quite contradictory to disconnecting and being mindful, as we spend so much time glued to the Snapface and Instabook already. So, if you’re like me, I’d recommend going out and grabbing a journal from a local bookstore for $25. Or better yet, I wrote a 21-Day Self-Love Journal. It’s easy to follow along and start placing gratitude, self-worth and consideration at the top of your charts… Super helpful if you’re struggling to get there on your own. Day by day you just implement the tools I prescribe and voila, you’re on your way to becoming the best version of yourself in just 21 days. Start reading it here for free – Start With U: 21 Day Self-Love Challenge

3. Exercise!

That’s right, in general, findings from research indicate that exercise is associated with improvements in mental health including mood state and self-esteem, although a causal link has not been established. Research on acute exercise indicates that 20 to 40 minutes of aerobic activity results in improvements in state anxiety and mood that persist for several hours. These transitory changes in mood occur in both individuals with normal or elevated levels of anxiety, but appear to be limited to aerobic forms of exercise. [Read the full article here]

So what’s the difference between aerobic exercise and all that other stuff? Well, aerobic exercise is exercise where your body’s cardiovascular system (the lungs and heart and circulatory system) work to provide the main source of energy to the body. Things like long walks, jogging, resistance circuit training (sorta), swimming, hiking, cycling, flow yoga and trail running are all examples of aerobic exercise.

We also have Anna Beaumont a voice teacher sitting in on the “Mental Health and Wellbeing” download session in March with myself and Amanda, so be sure to register if you’re interested in learning more about how mindset, meditation and movement can help your playing, reduce your stress and essentially help you to become the best version of yourself.

Here are a few other ways to get active, try something new and have fun:

Edmonton

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City Fit Shop – Whip around obstacles and play like a kid again in Edmonton’s premiere

obstacle course gym.

logoss.pngThe Surf Studio – Hang ten, dude. Get your surf on at this one-of-a-kind fitness experience. You’ll understand why those surfer dudes and babes are ripped! Holy core, Batman!

topVertically Inclined Rock Gym – If you’re not afraid of heights or awesome things this might be the ticket to getting a new activity down. Kids programs, adult programs and birthday party specials, this place has it all for veteran climbers and rookies.

Calgary

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Bodhi Tree Yoga – Looking for the best Yoga studio experiences in town? Look no further than Bodhi Tree. Plus Alberta Music’s own, Amy Thiessen teaches here. Incredible instructors and space so this spot is great for the seasoned yogi and first timers alike.

Click here to learn more about the MusicFit Collective Affiliate discount to save some coin on your yoga passes.

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Bike and BrewCalgary’s first cycle shop and cafe, these guys offer it all. Have a cup of the best brew in town, snack on some baking from Corbeaux Bakehouse or try a sandwich from locals vendors Peppino while you get your bike serviced. They also offer group rides, information sessions and product knowledge workshops so once the snow clears you’re all set to ride.

Click here to learn more about the MusicFit Collective Affiliate discount to save some coin on your caffeination and select merchandise. 

There are some musician specialty clinics happening in March and April as well:

Sunday, April 8 “How To Effective Load Gear”

Load Gear Without Fear

This is a musician wellness workshop that will focus on practical theory and knowledge combined with practical movement patterns to ensure you’re keeping your body in good form and avoiding injury. Limited space, AB Members only (get your membership at www[dot]albertamusic[dot]org/membership") Price includes taxes and service fees.

C$59.00

Sunday March 25 “Down-regulatory exercise: Working-In”

How To Use Exercise To Inspire Creativity and Performance March 25 (AB Music Members Early Bird)

This specialty clinic will touch on effective down-regulatory exercise and stretching techniques to help alleviate pain, reduce stress and help you increase creativity and performance. You’ll be at 11. Why don’t you just make 10 louder? Because this one goes to eleven. AB Music members discount (get your membership at www[dot]albertamusic[dot]org/membership) Limited space. Price includes taxes and service fees

C$59.00

Well folks, I hope you can take something valuable away from this. If you’re interested in a consult to determine how to organize parts of your lifestyle you’d like to improve, please reach out. For all Alberta Music Members I offer 50% off, all hour long consultations  and I can meet in person and via Facebook video every Friday. Contact me to book a spot.

Quick recap and I’ll get out of your hair:

  1. Talk to a professional if you’re having challenges in life.
  2. Journal your thoughts and take time to be with yourself.
  3. Exercise! There’s plenty of ways to move your body and they don’t all revolve around the gym…

As always, thanks for reading,

Namaste sweet!

Peace.

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Ps. Rad photo eh? Check my brother out on Facebook Sean Schwartz Photography

I know, right?

What a thing to say in a world that is so focused around getting to the next level, pushing and climbing your way to the top. And for what? Do you feel happy? Is that success?

I dunno, I must be getting soft in my old age, but now more than ever I’m more inclined to put myself in only the situations that bring my joy. When I’m happy, I thrive. I like feeling restored, energized, positively happy, and I really like to help others feel that way too. It’s super cool to help someone make that flip. That’s what we talked about in therapy this week; how to make that switch with as limited emotional duress as possible. A part of that is reflecting on my days and recognizing what I’m grateful for. Do you do something similar?

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The shadows show more than the eye can see as I ride back home up the monster hill. It’d been far too long. 

Today was a really nice day. I rode my bike for the first time seriously for commuting

purposes. I want to get back to that again. I just feel so much better. It’s freeing. And that’s what I want to write about, how once you find something that’s freeing, you should do it. And do it for as long as it brings you peace. One of those things for me is cycling.

 

 

 

 

This whole weekend was great actually. I’m very happy to be back enjoying movement again. Saturday I was invited by my friend, Jess Smith to accompany her for a Yoga class that’d feature us in the beautiful Yoga Passage, a gorgeous studio fulll of beautiful humans, here in downtown Calgary, Alberta.

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However, prior to the super mindful, health conscious Mike – the rock star lifestyle Mike happened…

unfortunately for my wellbeing, but par for the course (as an industry it’s not uncommon to be out all night) I had to “take one for the team”. I  ended staying out waaaaaay past my bed time after the Canada’s Music Incubator, AE West program wrapped up. Well, of course I’d like to go to the afterparty….

……

There’s a lot of stories. So I’ll give you a bit of Matt Blais… good friend of mine and our shenanigans with some food (that turned out to not even be ours!)

Let’s just focus on how great the music was. Canada, you have a lot of amazing talent coming up out of the West. I’m happy to help foster and develop all of these amazing talents.

This is Atlaas – she’s from Winnipeg and you should check out her EP. She’s an amazing soul. And that voice…

 

but yeah… and I got in around 4:30 am. Good thing I didn’t have any plans until Jess and I had yoga to cleanse the soul and stretch the mind and body…

Sunday I got up, headed over to a train an in-home couples training session and then ripped to the stairs to hit up Sunday Funday.

After the workout, I ripped home let Dar out and got down to toss a Teddy Bear on the ice at the Hitmen game. Here’s what that looks like. Must have been somewhere near 22,000 Teddy Bears out there.. it’s an annual thing. Super fun. I go every year.

I did have this weird revelation that I’ve had in passing before. I nearly bought an art set with canvas, an easel and something like 110 pieces. I have no idea how to art though. Are any of you artists? What would you recommend for someone who is looking to get into it? I feel pretty strongly about abstract art. I like rad stuff. I have a lot of energy and creativity and for some reason art seems like a really cool outlet when I don’t music.

Any recommendations for what to go for, what to look out for and the like would be awesome.

And in the meantime… find stuff that fuels your creativity, fuels your happiness and I really think. you’ll see that success thing everyone is always talking about. Don’t beat yourself up if you haven’t done this and feel silly for not figuring it out. Sometimes it takes getting out of your lane in order to find what you’re lane truly is.

Thanks for reading. Until next time, stay sweet.

M

As I stand here, warming up in the bomby -2.5C Calgarian November morning, I look around to see nothing but open park, glorious cityscape and a few tourists over the stairs at Crescent Heights. The same stairs that the team and I meet every Sunday, at 11:07.

Not this Sunday though. I was the lone wolf.

I heard lots of inquiries, lots of interest, some were unfortunately sick and others had previous engagements and that’s all fine. I’m okay if you don’t show up. I have zero influence on what people prioritize until they see what health and wellness will do for them.

Ironic because most of the excuses I hear revolve around “I’m tired, I’m gonna sleep in, I’ve been working nights, I’m getting sick, I have no time for that…” which all stem from the root of why you should be joining me every Sunday at 11:07!

I don’t do this because I like it all the time. I do it because I know the alternative of depression, anxiety, poor conditioning, sickness, lethargy, zero motivation, ambition and the feeling of insecurity far outweighs the shitty 35:07 of a little hard breathing, muscle soreness and pounding heart. Yeah. I show up.

I’d encourage you to do the same the next time you say you will. Physically and mentally. At the end of the day, you’re only letting yourself down.

I did my reps.

He Brandt’d it this time.

“Have fun storming the castle” he messaged me earlier today. And in one weeks time, I will.

Tuesday I will have secured a spot on the Board, and either way I will continue to push my health and wellness agenda upon the music community.

We have so much to gain. In light of the recent tragedies in our musical community, I’m sure you’ll agree that there’s a dire need for solutions to the growing problems associated with musician health and wellness. Things like chronic pain, high stress, poor nutritional habits, and a growing need of physical and emotional therapy plague our industry like every bad Nickelback single of the early millennium. We need to find ways to subsidize products and services to fit the budget of our membership; those musicians and industry that can’t afford to pay out of pocket for a massage therapist, chiropractor, nutrition coach or personal trainer.

What if we had the ability to go on the road with bands or host lifestyle workshops in places like OCL or NMC? What if there was a mobile medical service we had access to on tour? Could we create digital content like video documentaries and podcasts that bring to light the realities of the life of a full-fledged musician to others? We would only help raise awareness of this message, right?

I do believe we can. It’s my dream to bridge the gap between health and wellness and the music industry. I’m like the RUN DMC meets Aerosmith version of “Walk this Way”. And we can breakdown that wall of the stereotypical “rock star lifestyle”. We can change the landscape of the industry forever.

Because I will connect Alberta Music and it’s members to professional health and wellness service providers, our membership will have the tools to truly “next level that shit” and become the greatest version of themselves.

Now’s our chance to lay the foundation of which all other industry organizations envy. We have to start treating ourselves like professionals and investing into our development on a deeper level. With attention to personal growth, self-care and a healthy and active lifestyle, we will inspire amazing lives. With that, we’ll in turn inspire amazing art.

Thanks for listening, stay sweet.

M

If my platform resonates with you, please throw your name down below in a comment and tell me. The health movement in the music industry knows no boundaries. It’s up to us as to how we approach change.

I’m back!

Hey everyone! If you’ve never taken a breather, I highly recommend it. Be it from social media, the phone and emails or just from the daily hustle and grind – it all adds up and sometimes it’s nice to just recharge and breathe.

I spent May doing just that. I’m refocused, energized and have realigned my vision, got a few projects really rockin’ and rollin’ and most importantly, I’m the fittest I’ve ever been.
I find that I have more energy than ever! I’m waking up with the sun every day, going for a jog with Dar or doing some yoga in my living room and then heading in to either volunteer at Ronald McDonald House or down to INLIV to work with an all-star personal training team to inspire some amazing lives! I even bike almost 200 kilometres every week for fun!
I can’t say it was all me. I owe a lot of it to resetting my mindset and that only really started to kick in about 6 months ago when I started getting coached through the same system I teach my coaching clients, Precision Nutrition’s Pro-Coach.

Between volunteering, creating, coaching, catching live music events around town, hosting two shows; one on TV and the other, my very own radio show (now available on iTunes!), entertaining (or more like being entertained by) my pup Darwin, it seems like there should be a lot fewer hours in my day, right? It’s all in how you manage your time, I s’pose.
I’ve attached some links for you to take a peek at some of the things I’ve been up to. I hope you enjoy it, share it and remember the next time you’re feeling overwhelmed, burnt out or out of control – take a step back and breathe. Reach out if you would like some help or even just an ear to vent to.

SoundScape

Check out the TV show I host, SoundScape YYCTanner James plays some tunes, talks about the upcoming release of his debut novel and chats with me about the changing landscape of Calgary’s music scene and how he’s thriving as an artist in the wake of the gunslingers and oil barons of the wild, wild west. It’s a real doozy. Tune in.

PPLSKLZ RADIO

The first episode is out! Be sure to tune in on that commute to work or over lunch break for your hour-long dose of local music-fused with real discussion on proactive healthcare for musicians and music lovers. Chalked full of value, this episode includes the first part of a new gender series “What Is A Man” I’m unrolling this month, some great local artists including Jo-Jo O’ and the Woods and The Heirlooms and tips and tricks to help keep you moving and feeling great! Check it out below.

The Musician’s Guide To Surviving The Rock Star Lifestyle

Now available on amazon.ca, get your copy of my book in either old school paperback or fresh, like the kids these days – e-book. Order your copy today!

Thanks for reading, until next time… stay sweet!