Earlier this week I was talking to Brian Festa via zoom. Just like myself, Brian is on a quest to bring about more wellbeing in musicians’ lives.
AM I THINKING TOO SMALL?
On this occasion, we were discussing symphony orchestras and how we could communicate our mission to them. It struck me that, given my experience in the industry, maybe I have been thinking a bit too small. I’ve seen the obstacles to companies truly caring for musicians firsthand. Whether that’s time, money, culture… You name it. But then again, why couldn’t we get the care that is appropriate for the athletes that we are? Why should it have to take decades for this to become a reality?
A UTOPIAN FANTASY?
Picture this, you come to the rehearsal in the morning. As part of the rehearsal time, you do a collective short warm-up that helps everyone prevent injuries. Once every hour, everyone gets up and has a chance to stretch and move a bit. This not only further helps you feel better physically but also makes you more alert. Before each performance, there’s a centering practice that helps you feel grounded and focused. Beyond these things, the company employs a physiotherapist that you have access to giving you a chance to prevent injuries or manage any existing ones. There’s a massage therapist you see every week and a coach that helps you stay on top of your game and manage all the unique pressures of being a musician.
What do you think? Sounds like utopia?
IT STARTS WITH YOU
Well, my friend, this is what I’m striving for. But it starts with each and every one of us. So I invite you to consider this. If you’re not already, what if you started seeing self-care as something that is necessary for yourself as a musician athlete? Something that’s an integral part of your work, not a candy or something you do only when things really go wrong? And while doing that, what if we started being more open about the challenges that we face? Whether that’s injury, performance anxiety, or self-doubt. And what if, as a result, we slowly started to shift the culture of pushing through that is so often present in our industry?
I can promise you this, I will strive to do so myself. Because I’m not talking to you from a place of perfection. I still get stressed out, overdo things or run out of time to do my physio exercises sometimes. But that’s why all this stuff is all the more important.
If you want something more concrete to start with, I’m honored to teach a class at Brian’s Catalyst Free Virtual Musicians’ Retreat on Sunday 2nd October at 4:25 BST. I sincerely recommend you check out their offer. It’s the most well-rounded event of this kind for musicians that I have seen so far.