I’m holding an open request for submissions for all musicians and music industry professionals interested in bettering their lifestyle, or at least reading about it.

Basically I’m looking for an honest review, unbiased and constructive on my upcoming book – ” The Musicians Guide to Surviving the Rock Star Lifestyle” (available for pre-order here) from my immediate circle of influence. You know? People that don’t know me and won’t just say what I want to hear. I want to have a critical review from leaders in the industry; musicians, songwriters, producers, stage hands, tour managers, label reps… the works. Everyone who is anyone in the business that wants to know how to better themselves in the ways of movement, nutrition and mindset to elevate their performance.

Why? Well, this book is a passion project for me. I’m aiming to better the lifestyle of my fellow industry professionals and weekend warriors alike. If we can bring some general awareness towards the importance of health and how it relates to elite performance on and off-stage, I will be able to help more people that need my specific attention. We are trying to spearhead a health movement in an industry that has a reputation for exactly the opposite. You can be a part of this and help to remove that stigma. 

For anyone that provides a review I will gladly offer $100 worth of my services exercise or nutrition and provide you with a copy of the finished product.

This is bigger than you and me, people. Let’s help make you the best version of yourself.

Use the contact form to get in touch and I’ll send you the PDF

 

Chat soon!

Coach

Advertisements

For many of us musicians here in the fine city of Calgary, AB we will find ourselves for about ten days, working 5:30am until 2:30am back to back. Some know it as the gauntlet. Others just call it hell, but to anyone not performing it’s known as the greatest outdoor show on earth: The Calgary Stampede.

One of the keys to a powerful performance consistently night in, night out for any musician often goes overlooked. It’s water! So many healthful benefits yet, why do we as performers often struggle to keep hydrated? Especially before, during and after our performance?

Here’s my top three reasons you may want to top up that water bottle with straight, pure H2O next gig.

  1. Retain Mental Clarity
  2. Avoid Reduced Muscular Endurance
  3. Avoid Physical Exhaustion, Heat Stroke, Coma and Death

 

  1. Retain Mental Clarity
    • as a performer, it’s pretty crucial to be on your “A” game, every game. One of the first really noticeable signs of dehydration is mental clarity. You will become unfocused, “foggy” and slow with motor skills. These things tend to hamper musical ability. Drink up.
  2. Avoid Reduced Muscular Endurance
    • AKA You become slower and you can’t play as long. Hmm.. not ideal for someone that may need to play 3 sets multiple times per day. Drink up.
  3. Avoid Physical Exhaustion, Heat Stroke, Coma and Death

Official stats tell us that it doesn’t take much percentage of body water lost to throw the system off. Specifically, only 3% loss before you’ll experience reduced muscular endurance, 4% before you start talking funny and losing focus and at a mere 5% loss of body water you’ll hit heat exhaustion, and run the risk of reduced mental capacity.

Morale of the story. Water is your best friend as a musician. Stay hydrated and always at your best!

For more information on the benefits of drinking water, click here! My friends at Precision Nutrition explain in detail the many benefits of a well hydrated body and mind!

Remember, you don’t have to be a rock star to start, but you do have to start in order to become a rock star. Stay sweet, kids and please share this article or show me some blog love if you dig it!

 

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

Here’s an interesting topic – Athletic Performance for the working musician.

Hmm. What a paradox.

I for one have been successful in both fields. Competing at a high level all my life in hockey, transferring those skills most recently to the longer blade of long track speed skating. All the while, I have been a professional, gigging and session musician. So what have I discovered in both realities?

Well for one, athletic performance is definitely advantageous for the working musician. I’m going to go into it a bit more in-depth and explain my thoughts on how movement, nutrition, and mindset of both athletes and musicians are very closely related.

 

Movement – The Maintenance Package for Your Body

Alright. Everyone knows exercise is great for them. But we all seem to have not enough time, not enough knowledge and not enough motivation to do anything about it. Athletes – well… they live, eat, breathe exercise. That’s their job, generally speaking. At my height of competitive skating I was training over 28 hours/ week. Not including stretching and recovery days…. that was just ice, dry-land conditioning, cycling/running and gym time. Craziness, right? Right.

As for musicians, well… same thing could be said. We perform for up to 3 hours in front of crowds. Not taking into account the load in, set up and tear down of our gear (until you’re able to hire teams of roadies to help with that part, anyways) this can be a very strenuous position. Over the course of a tour, where you could be working 5 out of 7 nights like this, battling stairwells, poor lighting and dusty work conditions… how do you think your body will hold up? The exercise programs I have designed to help prevent or in some cases correct physical limitations that inhibit our playing careers (tendonosis, carpal tunnel, lower back pain – just to name a few issues…) Exercise is the foundation to help you manage the physical brutality you will expose yourself to on the road as a working musician… if that is your endgame anyways. Even if you just want to sit and play guitar, without proper warmup, stretching and management of stress relating to overuse activity, you will not be able to maximize your performance. So lets start talking about how you can prevent further physical harm and start getting into a healthier physical form.

Nutrition – Fuel for Performance

Well, when I say it like that it seems pretty obvious. As an athlete, this is a no brainer. You don’t often hear the story of the athlete messing around with Big Mac’s and slurps as pregame meals (However I know one who set a track record on a pop tart and coke). I’m not saying it’s non-existent, but as an athlete our performance is our career.

Enter musician. Odd how the stigma of beer, weed, parties long into the night with copious amounts of cocaine and hookers comes to mind. Why is that? If performance is important – ultimately a huge part of our career as musicians, why is there such a difference between the athletic community and music industry with regards to how we fuel ourselves? Business in the athletic community isn’t conducted over a pitcher of beer and nachos, for one. Payment also isn’t pub grub dining and a few brewskis when you get off the podium. These things have become staples in the music industry and I’m here to start a revolution amongst my supporters to look at alternative practices. Why? Eat better. Drink less. Last longer. Simple.

Mindset – The Often Underrated Aspect of Wellness

Ever heard of working in, not working out? Through my experience of racing, I have found so much truth in the power of the mind. As athletes we are probably the worst to train because oftentimes we employ a self-sabotage perspective of “all or nothing” and a “If you’re not first, you’re last..” approach to competition. While I guess its cool to have high expectations, a realistic approach seems way more uhh.. realistic.

As an athlete, it’s sometimes hard to accept that theres always someone bigger, faster or stronger than you. That’s part in parcel of the underlying motivation. How does this apply to musicians? We as musicians have to be show ready, battle the stage, hold interviews and manage stressful situations related to our appearance, performance and demeanour each and every day. And here’s the kicker… that community can be vicious as all hell. To have a stable mindset, ability to manage stress well and overcome adverse situations even on stage at times in the middle of a performance goes far underrated in my opinion. But, I am biased. It’s happened to me. But guess what? I made it. I’m alive. Way better off and stronger in my mindset and focus because of it.

To conclude, I hope this article shows that there’s way more in common between performance athletes and musicians than we see at first. Some probably think they’re worlds away from one another, but the three pillars of health, nutrition, fitness and mindset are super important in both of these realities if our end game is indeed performance.

Feel free to email me your thoughts on this at mike@armyofharmony.com or share this article within your personal network. I’m not looking to shut down the party that is the rock star lifestyle. I’m just the guy that will prolong your attendance. Remember, you don’t have to be a rock star to star, but you have to start in order to become a rock star. Stay sweet, kids.

Thanks for reading

 

Mike Schwartz

Canadian Music Industry Health & Performance Specialist

www.armyofharmony.com

Twitter & Instagram: @coach_schwartzy

YouTube

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

 

 

Here it is – from personal experience I’ve found it tough to find food affordable and somewhat healthy… So here’s three ways that you can eat healthy-ish and not break the bank.

1. Bananas 

Why? Well bananas keep well, as long as you keep them out of the dark. Thats important when you’re driving the long highways of Canada. You need food that can go the miles with you.

2. Peanut (or any nut) butter

While all nuts contain some toxins and moulds, this is an easy way to get a good source of protein and healthy fats into your body without spiking the blood sugar and leaving you to crash. Just make sure you’re eating the organic stuff if you can and look for the stuff that’s really separated – no Kraft PB, folks. That’s sugar 101, and a whole different conversation. I won’t digress….

Dip the banana in the PB. Omnomnom!

3. Veggies and Hummus

Super healthy alternative to any chip & dip or snack food you might be otherwise inclined to pick up from the truck stop. I love baby carrots and snap peas, because those are the easiest to grab and go and dip in the hummus. The only downside is you’ll need to refrigerate this snack, which can pose a storage problem.

-Mike

You don’t have to be a rock star to start, but you have to start in order to become a rock star.

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

Wonder why you are experiencing brain fog, sore back, loss of appetite or just feeling plain weak lately? Could be the lifestyle you lead as a musician… it can be rough. I know. I’m one.

Common challenges are poor nutrition, inconsistent sleep patterns, substance abuse and overuse injuries as a result of poor form or posture and little to no preventative therapy or warm up. All of these things contribute to a big stinkin’ pile of stress and that stuff kills.

 

Here’s some common problems and corresponding solutions for you to try if you’re experiencing any (or all) of the following:

  1. Problem – Substance abuse. Let’s be honest, half of the thrill of this industry is in the party lifestyle for most of us. That’s one of the attractive perks of the “job”.. business meetings take place over beers, support your buddy’s band and have some shots before the show with them… you know the drill… unfortunately it’s not always sustainable. Solution – Start to replace the habit with healthier alternatives. Instead of going all night on beers, have one or two socially, then switch to water. Hydration is critical to maintaining a functional approach and that is only heightened when you’re performing. Never mind the cognitive dysfunction (brain fog) booze can increase.. So it might be best to reconsider how much of this toxin you’re putting into yourself (along with any other substances) while at “work”. An accountant, teacher or lawyer wouldn’t get away with it, so treat yourself as a profession. Start to cut it back.
  2. Problem – Low energy. The lifestyle is draining. Weird hours, weird sleeping quarters. Who knows… sometimes sleep is just a sacrifice. Solution – do your best to sleep from 11pm-6pm when you can. This is the optimal time (as according to the circadian cycle) for psychological and physical recovery of the body. You can also try rubbing about a quarter size blast of magnesium gel on your neck. (Magnesium gel is more easily absorbed by the body and helps in sleep aide and recovery. Try it out.
  3. Problem – Back, wrist, knee, elbow, shoulder pain. It happens. Loading, playing endless hours and poor posture all contribute to the growing epidemic of injuries to musicians. Solution – exercise and stretch! There’s a ton of great ways to correct your posture, playing  your instrument with a bit more mindfulness about ergonomics and you can really prolong your playing career! I’m the guy that keeps artists healthy and fit and this is my bread and butter. Please reach out if you need assistance with an injury.

Happy playing, folks!

You don’t have to be a rock star to start, but you have to start in order to become a rock star. 

Mike

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

Attention Musicians: Learn how to sleep on the road here

How do you maintain some sort of consistency to your sleep patterns while you tour from gig to gig across this beautiful nation? I dive into it with Mike Sands, professional session and touring musician on his recent tour with Calgarian blues rocker, Matt Blais. Check the video here: https://youtu.be/HKeCNnPxpmE

While the advice from Mr. Sands provides a bit of comic relief, this topic has been a hot button issue for as long as I have been a touring musician. I have listed my top three pro tricks in order to allow for the most restful sleep to battle the long days, low budget and less than optimal living conditions! Here we go.

Bring your pillow – this will not only help you maintain some sort of familiarity with your lifestyle but it’ll also save your neck. If you don’t have room in the van, make a pillow out of some pants or shirts. To keep your head and neck aligned should be the focus here so you don’t wake up with a crazy kink in the neck for the duration of the tour.

Stay with friends or look into couch surfing – most people know touring musicians don’t make a heck of a lot of money and if you have a well-planned tour you can usually get by in each town/city with the cost effective and generally pretty comfortable couch surfing experience if you don’t happen to have any friends or family in that city

Build a bed – If you’re stuck sleeping on the floor, lay down clothes or sleeping bags or some sort of padding to give you a bit of a makeshift mattress. This will help your body from going numb through the night (speaking from experience). It should also help to keep a bit of body heat instead of releasing into the cold hard floor.

Try it out, see what you think and add any other things you’ve come across in your touring career!

Again, please check out the video here and please subscribe to my YouTube channel to stay in the loop.

 

Thanks for reading, happy touring!

You don’t have to be a rock star to start, but you have to start in order to become a rock star. 

Mike

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