Archive for August, 2010


Thursday, August 5th, 2010

Every musician knows something about routine. Either you have one, go out of your way not to have one, have a routine of order or disorder, the concept is something we’re all aware of.

My routine starts at 6:00am. I roll out of bed, throw on my exercise clothes, and depending on the day, I do weights for a half-hour (after stretching) or run for a half-hour (3-4 miles, depending on how I feel, or what I drank the night before). After that, breakfast: 3 eggs, scrambled with butter and cheese, 2 strips of bacon, and a cup of coffee. Then, shower and wet-shave if I need it. I got into the straight-razor “traditional” shave a while back, and I love it; a bit of a learning curve, but it makes a difference. Once that’s all done, it’s on with my day. After that, it all depends on what’s going on.

It took me a LONG time to develop and settle into my current routine; I say “current” because I might need to change it some day, who knows. I never had one back in school. I was of the “cold horn” philosophy of playing, in other words, I felt that I should be able to pull the horn out of the case after being held up in traffic/oversleeping/flight delayed, be able to sit down, catch my breath, and play, and it should sound the same as if I’d warmed up for hours. It was supposed to stand as “since I maintain myself, I can let 1 day slide”, but it morphed into “I’m so badass, I don’t need to warm up.” Yeah, sounds great in theory, but it eventually catches up with you. Crashing and burning in the Zellmer finals was my final wake-up. Doug Wright said it best, I think: “If I miss 1 day, I notice; if I miss 2 days, YOU notice.”

It’s tough to get into a routine. Sometimes routine is forced on you. In Army Basic Training, we got up at 4:00am, every day, did hard PT, breakfast, and then whatever. It was tough at first, but after a while, it became routine. The day we finally got to sleep in until 6:00am, I felt like I was getting up at noon. But getting up at 4:00am was never up to me; it was up to DS Newsome, and the other 200-or-so of my bunkmates had no choice but to comply.

So, if you have no routine, what can help? It doesn’t have to be much, and it doesn’t have to be absolute. You have to fine-tailor it to your specific needs. Here are some suggestions on basics:

1. Get up early (relatively speaking, and within reason)

In other words, if you have a regular salsa band gig that goes ’til 3:00am every night, “early” might be a different time for you. But the old cliche is true, the Army gets more done by 9:00am than everyone else (because they get up at 4:00am).

2. Excercise

It doesn’t take a lot of time, and you don’t have to be hardcore about it, but you should do it. 30 minutes a day is fine, 40 is ideal. But just like practicing, make the most of it. You don’t play for 5 minutes and stare into space for 25. It helps ALOT if you do it with someone else. I get the most out of doing it early in the morning, but if you can’t, remember to do it BEFORE a meal, not after.

3. Eat breakfast

It gets your mind and body going. Don’t skip it; you can skip dinner, but not breakfast. Go for foods high in protein & good fats, low in sugar. Sugar is no good for you.