Performing musicians have a unique viewpoint on life and living.  Our skills include the discipline of regular practice, the assessment of mistakes and problems in our performance, and the desire to improve and better our playing. Also because music has such emotional impact we are people who consider personal feelings and subjective thoughts as things that are important and worth discussing. These are valuable insights not only for music making but also for living.

The Body | Healthy Relationships

The Emotions | The Mind | The Soul and Spirit

Also see Dr. William Dawson's book Fit as a Fiddle – The Musician’s Guide to Playing Healthy.

The Body, the Instrument

Musicians rely on instruments that are in good condition to perform well. It doesn't matter how skilled or talented that musician, give them an instrument that is unplayable and the musical results will be poor. Similarly our body is an instrument for our lives. Keeping your body tuned and well maintained will aid your musicianship as well as your life. Here are some wonderful websites you should consider visiting:
  • Fitness and exercise. 
  • Virtues of Exercise for the Musician: Glyn Williams.  The Double Reed, Vol. 13, No. 1 (Spring 1990)
  • Movement, Music, and the Alexander Technique: Nancy Bondurant.  The Double Reed, Vol. 15, No. 1 (Spring 1992)
  • Alexander Technique - Benefits for Bassoonists: Glyn Williams.  The Journal of the International Double Reed Society No. 16, 1988.
  • Hearing
  • Ask the Doctor: Hearing Loss by William J. Dawson, M.D. The Double Reed, Vol. 22, No 3, 1999
  • Injuries Due to Performing and Practicing.
  • The Performing Arts Medical AssociationA variety of health professionals, as well as arts educators and administrators, are the guiding forces in developing and disseminating health related information to those performers who are in need of it—instrumental and vocal musicians, dancers, and actors.
  • This is a commercial site advertising Dr. Jameson and colleagues. However, there is some useful information available for free.  There are some stretching exercises on the site that many musicians will find useful.
  • "Ask the Doctor: Carpal Tunnel Syndrome" by William J. Dawson, M.D. . The Double Reed, Vol. 22, No. 4, 1999
  • "Ask the Doctor: Take Care of Those Hands!" by William Dawson, M.D. The Double Reed, Vol. 24, No. 3 2001

Here are a few things the Bible has to say about the body:

I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; marvelous are Your works, and that my soul knows very well. (Psalm 139:14, New King James Version here and below)

Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts. And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. (Romans 6:12-13)

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, accptable to God, which is your reasonable service. (Romans 12:1)

Healthy Relationships, Our Beams or Connections

We depend upon others for so many things. Don't underestimate the value of people who encourage and support you!

Many notes in music are connected by beams and it is useful to think of our connections to others in a similar way. In individual note doesn't make much of a composition. Likewise a life lived alone and apart from others also misses the opportunity of community. Consider that just as a note needs to be combined with other notes in phrases, your life needs to be connected to others.

Unlike musical notes, you have many opportunities to pick who you will be "beamed" to. You can choose those to whom you are most connected. Choose wisely!

Relationships through and with music (video)

Here are a few things the Bible has to say about relationships:

Honor you father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the LORD your God is giving you. (Exodus 20:12)

You shall love your neighbor as yourself. (Mark 12:31)

Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. (Galatians 6:2)

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. (Colossians 3:14)

And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching. (Hebrews 10:24-25)

The Emotions, the Barometer

No doubt you have noticed that your emotions vary from day to day.  Your emotions are often dependent upon your how your body is feeling, what you are thinking about, and even your relationships with others.  Sometimes, however, your emotions seem to be unrelated to external or internal events. The fact that emotions fluctuate or appear to be unpredictable does not mean that the musician should ignore emotional health or not consider ways to improve their emotional outlook. There are ways in which to improve your emotions which can have a positive impact on your performance as a musician.

Emotions are in fact a sort of barometer of life. Barometers measure the air pressure and with shifts in air pressure that provide indications of current and future weather patterns. At times the barometer seems disconnected from observable weather. For instance, the barometer may be rapidly falling, but the weather looks calm and beautiful. However, this falling barometer could mean a change in weather patterns. Likewise the emotions can at time give indications of things that are not readily apparent.

Music and emotions.
Music draws upon and influences our emotions as well. It is amazing, however, that despite the widely acknowledged link between emotions and music there is little is written about it. Furthermore musicians are often not aware of the linkage between their emotions and other aspects of their life.

Improvements to one's emotional outlook is often best made by improving the body, relationaships, the mind, or the soul rather than focusing on the emotions themselves. Continuing our analogy: if the weather changes for the worse it doesn't mean we should replace our barometer. Similarly if there are problems with your emotions it should cause you to pause to consider what might be the underlying issues.

Many issues can be impacting your emotions and it is not possible in this page to even address them. We recommend you take a look at Dr. Dobbin's website that contains many articles that may help to address your needs. Dr. Dobbins holds
a B.A. in Psychology, an M.A. in Psychology, Ph.D. in Guidance and Counseling. He has a clinical license with the Ohio Board of Psychology and he is a licensed minister with over 50 years of experience.

Here are a few things the Bible has to say about emotions:

Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. (Matthew 11:28)

Let not your heart be troubled, you believe in God, believe also in Me. (John 14:1)

And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body, and be thankful. (Colosians 3:14).

The Mind, the Gateway to the World

If emotions are best represented as a barometer, the mind might be best represented as a gateway. There is an axiom often employed in computer programming: "garbage in, garbage out." Most often you have a choice of what you will be looking at, reading, and listening to. The things that you eat will determine your body's strength, ability to heal, and performance. Likewise the things that you allow into your mind will determine your how you think, react, and speak. You can take practical steps to improve your mind and the things you think about.

Here are a few things the Bible has to say about the mind:

But those things which proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and they defile a man. For our of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies. These are the things which defile a man... (Matthew 15:18-20, New King James Version)

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpassess all understanding , will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7, New King James Version)

And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. (Romans 12:2, New King James Version) Dr. Ewell's experience of a renewed mind.

But those things which proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and they defile a man. For our of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies. These are the things which defile a man... (Matthew 15:18-20)

The Soul and Spirit, the Conduit to God

Musicians well understand the value--in fact necessity--of practicing.  Consider these statements and whether a success musician would agree this them:
  • Musicians only need to practice when they feel like it.
  • Talent alone is all that is needed to succeed as  musicians.
  • Practicing once a week will allow musicians to succeed.
  • Musicians can succeed by themselves.
  • Musicians don't need good instruction, anything will do.
  • Ways to improve as musicians shouldn't be discussed openly, these are personal matters.
A musician who advocated any of these statements stands little chance of musical growth. In the same way people who haphazardly practice development of their inner self will have little chance of personal growth. It is not only the amount of practice that determines growth but also the method of practice. Practicing  a passage in the wrong way makes things worse. So to can a person develop their inner self in wrong ways. The statements are equally valid for your spiritual life as they are for your musical life. Consider the statements rephrased:
  • People only need to practice spiritual things when they feel like it.
  • Talent alone is all that is needed to succeed in one's spiritual life.
  • Practicing a spiritual discipline once a week will allow a person to succeed.
  • People can succeed in their spirituality by themselves.
  • People don't need good spiritual instruction, anything will do.
  • Ways to improve one's spiritual life shouldn't be discussed openly, these are personal matters.
Are you interested in developing as a whole person and not just as a musician? If so read on by selecting any of the links below:

 Here are a few things the Bible has to say about the soul and spirit:

Thus says the LORD. "Stand in the ways and see, and ask for the old paths, where the good way is, and walk in it; then you will find rest for your souls. (Jeremiah 6:16)

I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. (Ezekiel 36:26)
Read about Dr. DeLoach's life changing experience.

And you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. This is the first commandment. (Mark 12:30)

For I will not trust in my bow, nor shall my sword save me. In God we boast all day long, and prasie Your name. (Psalm 44:6, 8)