Hard working musicians subject themselves to irregluar working hours, late working hours and often find themselves in areas of slightly different risk compared with many other professions. This article is definitely not meant to replace seeking medical and postural advice if you have a problem that needs addressing. However it does offer some basic and sensible advice which is easy to neglect during periods of heavy work load and stress, whether you are writing an album or on tour as a musician.

Protect your hearing

One of the most important facalties for a musician is their hearing, ears are sensitive and it is a good plan to protect the longevity of your hearing. Each country has a set of guidelines that provide safe sound pressure level values and exposure times. The louder sound is the less exposure time is recommended. Try and get a handle on your sound exposure levels and take steps to reduce and minimize it. Your career relies on the longevity of your ears and hearing, so use ear plugs to protect them from excessive SPL’s (Sound pressure levels) whenever possible. Like much of the advice within this article it might not be very rock and roll to wear ear plugs but it bears serious consideration as your career relies on it. Nowadays you can get ear plugs with a tailored frequency response which offers good protection but stops the music sounding too dull and makes it less problematic to hear some of the musical details on stage.

Take care when lifting

There is a right way and a wrong way to lift heavy items, the wrong way can have you with an accute back problem in no time. Lugging guitar combo’s, stacks, drum kits and full size keyboards and flight cases is not trivial, some of these items can easily weigh 20Kgs. When you lift your equipment consider your back. By and large it is safer to lift heavy items from the ground by keeping the back straight and bending your knees. Again your local medical authority will be able to advise on how heavy items are best lifted with minimum risk. Also make sure you do not hyper extend yourself when lifting (i.e. lifting items when stooped over… and arms fully extended) Being directly over the item is generally safer. If something is too heavy don’t feel like a wimp get a band member of stage hand to help you out, better safe than sorry.

Consider a flu jab

I personally take a flu jab annually, this is up to your own discretion. I feel the cost versus the potential loss of earnings from being on your back for 10-14 days is minimal. Letting people down and losing income from having the flu adds insult to injury. The flu is a very unpleasant and a common malady during the winter months and is best avoided. The flu jab is definitely worth considering before the winter period starts.

Vitamins

2 camps of opinion here, they don’t make any difference and they make a worthwhile difference. I am of the latter persuasion personally. Now rather than list scores of vitamins I will suggest a few that I believe will be of most benefit to musicians.

Fish oil (Omega 3) – known to protect joints, so if you want to tickle the ivory’s and keep on strumming for years and years to come this supplement will assist in keeping your joints in good shape, critical for being able to play an instrument.

Vitamin C – an important vitamin for keeping away the common cold and other minor viral infections, again playing out when under the weather is not fun or recommended so try and keep these mild illnesses at bay with a 500mg of vitamin C a day.

Lutein – Lutein is a suppliment that can help protect the retina of the eye. Musicians often work in dimly lit conditions, be it on stage or in the studio staring at a computer monitor for hours at a time. On stage this is often coupled with harsh lighting. Anything capable of protecting eyesight is going to be a bonus.

Vitamin D – we all know the joke about a “studio tan” well there may be more truth in it than one might think. In the northern hemisphere vitamin D deficiency is very common place especially towards the end of winter. (compounded by working indoors and lack of sunlight) It is a very important vitamin not to be depleted of.

A multivitamin tablet will be a good general daily suppliment especially if irregular and fast food type meals are consumed when in a hurry or on tour. A daily multivitamin will keep the basic nutirents topped up until you are eating better again.

Water vs. mental and physical performance

It is said that dehydration can reduce mental and physical performance so try and take a bottle of water wherever you are and keep well hydrated. A human being is recommended to drink approx 2 litres of water during the course of a day to keep peak mental and physical performance.

Sleep makes a difference

Eveyone knows that being deprived of sleep can have a large impact on mood and general well being. Of course musicians gigging are often night workers and long nights in the studio have almost become a cliche. Thats fine as long as you are getting 6-8 hours of sleep a day. It’s important for mental and physical well being to get rest. You are likely to be more creative and have more energy which is exactly what performing and creating music requires.

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7 Responses to How To Help Protect Your Health as a Musician

  1. Glen Brown says:

    Hi Barry,
    It’s great to see you addressing this issue. As an attendee at a local music awards show last night, I can attest to how valuable it is to be physically fit and mentally on your game at all times. It’s the difference between being pretty good and amazing on stage.
    Thank you for respecting and building up the local, gigging musician.
    Glen Brown
    Greater Hamilton Musician magazine

  2. Barry Gardner says:

    Many thanks Glen, well it is essentially some solutions I created myself when I was working away from the relatively calm environment of the mastering studio over the years gone by. I worked with musicians, live gigs/events/outside broadcasts and with live sound engineers for periods in my professional engineering career.

    I appreciate how hard the work is on mind and body and I thought I could at least make some points to consider which I found valid myself. I know the unique pressures of working in the town and often at night. And of course topping up the studio tan in the day times ; )

  3. irina says:

    Thank you very much for this article ! Many musicians work hard on cruise ships business and people thought that job of musicians is simple job . And usually director of cruise is not musician . They put 4 -5 hours per day without day off . It’s difficult especially for life music musicians . You cannot use minus or plus all this hours . They kill musicians . I am interesting why till now musicians don’t have protecting law ?

  4. amy daves says:

    Almost funny that there is no mention of the #1 health problem of most every musician I’ve ever worked with -
    Substance abuse.

    • Roach says:

      Oh yes, 100%!

      Apart from some, the majority of them are mostly generic advice to everyone whether musicians or not.. but these are important to take care of for a musician to continue working.

  5. Selena says:

    I must say it is very interesting and informative article about how a musician should take care of his health. keep writing this kind of stuff as there are hardly good posts because of more rubbish content on internet. great work, hats off to you.

  6. Dave says:

    Protecting your hearing is vital. Let’s face it if you cannot hear you won’t be able to play music. As far as it not being very rock and roll to wear ear plugs even Metallica is wearing them these days so that shouldn’t be an issue

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