It’s been a minute… I’m back.

Sometimes you just get wrapped up, right?

I’ve played more drums, practiced more rudiments and listened to the same 10 songs over and over again more in the past week than I have ever done so before in my life. I’ve never felt such emotion. Music does that to me.

When they ask me if I’m nervous I bawk… “Excited, you mean?”

I’m ready. This is what we came here for.

Hey Velocity, I’m begging…

Slow me down.

It’s starting to get real.

But man, my double stroke rolls need some work.

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Okay, we have all been here before. Late at night, pull out the guitar…and … nothing.

What?!

“But this what I do.”

Nothing. No spark.

You can’t help but wonder what it is, pulling at every strand of self-doubt. Did I sleep funny? Maybe that pulled pork sandwich (or tempeh wrap for our plant based friends) had some funk to it… whatever the case may be. You’re just not feeling it.

Well, that does happen from time to time. However, for professional artists, that could mean sacrificing a paycheque or two. Not cool. Let’s discuss three effective remedies to kick that brain fog and get our performance back up to snuff so we can focus on doing what we do really well, creating music.

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    1. Reduce the screen time!
      We spend far too much time in front of time-wasters like Facebook,Instagram,
      Reddit and the like. If we took half the time we spent searching news feeds or watching cute cat videos as we did reading, painting, getting outside… imagine how much more effective our time on earth would be. The dopamine hits from hitting the like button and constantly being concerned about who is liking your posts and how many followers you have is an unhealthy way to live. I would encourage you to set a daily time limit and stick to it. No more than a couple hours. And shut ‘er down by 8 pm so you don’t screw up your sleep cycle. The anxious feeling we get from self-worth is heightened when we follow the social norm of online gratification, so remove yourself from that world and you’ll start to inspire creativity simply because you have more time to do so! Check my recent post about last weekend’s social detox I did here. Follow up post is in the works…images

 

  1. Move!
    • Seems simple, but activity has proven to excite the brain in areas related to creativity independent of mood. You can read the study here. According to the research, the study’s result show that exercise helped to improve mood in participants and also creativity independently. This is good news for folks who want to get out of “creative blocks”. My suggestion? Get up and walk around when you’re feeling a block on the creative flow. I’m actually hosting a clinic specifically designed to address inspiring artistic creativity through movement in Calgary. If you’re in town, check it out here! If not, that’s cool. Here’s the best warm up for getting some creative flow! Unknown-1
  2. Journal!

    Oftentimes I feel like garbage at the end of the day. I feel as though I haven’t done anything at all. Have you even been there? There is a really easy way to track how productive you have been. Keep a journal and just close the day down with some thoughts and points of the things you did. Over time you’ll start to see how (un) productive you were… that way, you can manage it. For most people, we don’t track things so while we think we’re doing productive things, we really aren’t. If you see this trend, you can work towards improving upon it. We can’t manage what we’re not tracking, right? So give yourself a chance. I also found it amazing how easy things came to me when I wrote them down as goals and took behaviours that’d be intentional toward accomplishing them. I compiled it all into a workbook journal to help others get their shit together. I am officially releasing it this May in Toronto at Canadian Music Week. If you’d like an advance copy, just let me know.  mike@mikeschwartz.ca

There you have it. Three cool little tricks of the trade for you to keep up the creative flow. For those of you that are into reading, my favourite book ever for crushing the creative roadblocks is called “The War of Art”Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles by Steven Pressfield. Get it.

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Ok my friends. I’m out of here for now. I’m going to keep up the post per day to see what topics and time stick for the remainder of this week. I’m working through some things and have some exciting news to post about in due time, but until then… I hope your day or night is great.

Ciao,

M

So I did my first drum cover.

 

Believe it or not, this was the first take. I hadn’t played it since the days of Aberdeen. About 4 years ago.
“Stranger to Change” is a special track for me. I was heavily influenced by Mother Mother and their Eureka album in the writing process of this tune in particular. That whole EP was written in what now feels like an entirely different body from who I am now. However, music shapes itself around the environment you’re in and the song now signifies a renewed vision, a renewed passion for music and my undying “dreamer” attitude towards everything I do. You may hear some direct rips from my loves, MM, and that fill into the second versing structure borrows a piece and an idea I thought of 5 minutes before tracking and wrote in studio from Minus the Bear‘s “Summer Angel“. See if you can hear it.
Anyway, this track was a lot of fun to write with hip hop infused back beats and a ton of fun to play live, with extended intro and bridge pieces… I’m just glad I was able to capture it on the new Taye ProX and Soultone Cymbals. On that note, I get into it for the drum gear heads, so stick around for the chat after the track too. I’ve got some cool stuff going on for configuration.

We recorded this track with the always amazing Josh Rob Gwilliam way back in 2013, went through a lot of growth with the project and am happy to say I have become the player I am now by going through those sometimes rough growing pains. 

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To all the musicians just getting into it; if you take any piece away from this all, just keep playing. Bands will come and go and come again – it’s important for you to always keep playing.

This track is special. It’s still getting airplay.

Not bad for a terrible band from Calgary, right boys? Please enjoy responsibly.

Please Share.

Til next time, stay sweet.

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As a health professional and a musician, I feel as though it is my duty to help bring awareness to the music world about how to effectively take care of themselves. I started blending my passions of music and health (two areas that are often considered to be worlds apart) when I started to experience pain from prolonged playing. From time to time I still experience tightness or soreness but I can keep the symptoms at bay with a simple 15 -20 minute exercise routine. Today I am going to tell you fellow drummers the three part warmup that I utilize to alleviate tightness in my wrists in order to be proactive in the maintenance of my physical health. Try it out!

 

  1. Rudimentary Warm up (5-10 minutes) I Like to put on Sugarhill Gang’s “Apache” and play single stroke and double stroke rolls during the verses and variation of ratamacues or paradiddles during the choruses. This gets my speed up, brain working and movement coordination all on par.
  2.  Stretchhhhhhhhh the flexors and extensors! (5 minutes) You’re thinking’- “Da-fuk?” Yeah, your forearms, buddy. Those things that get all glued up when you don’t stretch…. you know? Throw on “Rock Show” by Blink 182 and when the hook or chorus is going place your hands on your throne, palms down and fingers pointed back towards your body and gently lean back, keeping your arm straight (but don’t lock your elbow). You should feel a nice stretch through the inside of your forearm. Then, when the verse comes up, switch so that the back of your hands are now down and you stretch the outside of your forearm when you lean back. Make sense? Cool. Almost there.
  3. Breathe! (5 minutes) Personally, this is the time to bust out your soft rock jams – I’m a big fan of “Vultures” by John Mayer. Address the areas that are tight. Since we are focusing on wrists today we will stay on the upper body (because the whole limb is a connected device so when your wrist shows symptoms, the root may actually be in the elbow, shoulder or even the neck..). Start with shoulder rolls, slowly roll your shoulders up towards your ears, squeezing your shoulder blades together as you slowly drop them in a circular fashion. Try 10 rolls each direction. Then you can put your arms out beside you, one palm facing up, the other facing down. Looking towards the palm that’s up, take a deep breath in through the nose and upon your exhale, turn to look toward the other hand while rotating the palms. Essentially your matching your breathing with a spiral movement of your limbs. This is super effective in releasing any tension through the upper back! Don’t be alarmed if your fingers start to feel tingly, that’s just the electricity and energy you’re starting to harness. Try about 10 breaths either way to start out.

Now you should be all warmed up. Go check out my video series on my Youtube Channel later this week for the videos that match this particular warm up and be sure to subscribe and share this article with your friends who are suffering from a lack of TLC in the ways of self-care!

Thanks for reading! Feel free to add your favourite stretches or routine to this post in the comments. I’d love to hear what puts you in a good place pre-show!

Mike

Ps. Click here if you want tips on surviving the rock star lifestyle delivered right to your mailbox

I’ve been living a paradoxical lifestyle for the past 10 years. Musicians get a bad rap as far as their attention to health and wellness. Maybe it’s a fair argument. But maybe it’s not. It doesn’t matter. In my reality  as a drummer myself and a health coach that has had the privilege of working with clients that have overcome the obstacles presented by conditions such as MS (multiple sclerosis), fibromyalgia, strokes, mental illness, post-operation rehabilitation and various other barriers to general wellbeing,  I understand the message from Billy Talent’s drummer Aaron Solowoniuk better than most of my musical colleagues.

I am on a mission to communicate the absolute importance of health and wellness in the musical community. I have a wellness initiative I am implementing in March that will see a study of my specialized restorative strength training, known as energizers and the effect it has on quality of life of the participants.

I am now extending my study into a branch of preventative care and recovery from chronic injuries common to the working musician. I consider myself incredibly fortunate to not have any ailments that would keep my from my passion behind the drums. When I first learned of Aaron’s story a couple years after I graduated high school, when I was really starting to pave my future as a drummer I thought “holy shit, how is he still playing?” But now I know, no matter what the obstacle, you can overcome it with the proper mindset. That starts with attention to your health, no matter what you are trying to beat. I’m inspired by Aaron – I’ve always enjoyed his playing, I’ve been a big fan of Billy Talent and now with his recent news that he’s stepping away from the kit in order to ensure he’s healthy just speaks volumes to his character.

While it’s unfortunate he can’t be on the road or in the studio for a bit, he’s made the right decision here. Please fellow musicians, take notes. It’d be a dream come true for me to be a part of Aaron’s story, but for now I will do what I can and offer my services and my education to my colleagues… Please contact me at mike@armyofharmony.com or 403 797-3853 or on Twitter at @coach_schwartzy for more information about how you can be part of a movement to inspiring musicians and artists to pay more attention to their health. I have a great program to work with you one in one regardless of your location, so get in touch if you want to keep doing what you love.

Big thank you to Aaron for his leadership on the movement.

After watching Aaron’s message here, I really hope you consider taking better care of yourself. Especially if you have no external “limitations”. Don’t take for granted what you have. You only have one body and even if you’re a musician, that’s all you get.
Follow Aaron at @AaronSolowoniuk and join him in support of conquering MS. Aaron, if you happen to come across this – please do contact me. I would like the opportunity to help you on your way back behind the kit. Check the video below. Get inspired. Be awesome.

https://youtu.be/50cuvTXp8M0