Happy Diwali to all friends! Isn't it awesome to have a public holiday right smack in the middle of the week? This is great because when I started writing down these thoughts hoping to help and inspire readers, whether musician or not, I have been going on about so many different things that I haven't spoken anything about this - down time aka relaxation.
So, is there really time for relaxation?
There has always been a correlation between musicians and athletes because both groups pretty much employ same techniques and strategies used to practice and train. And because it is also physically demanding (especially for athletes), it gets easier and more dangerous to develop injuries if there is no time for the body to heal. So, down time is extremely important. It is the time you take to care for your mental/psychological well-being, spreading the workload so as to not get burnt out too quickly. And while the mind recuperates, it also gives the body a chance to rest and recover. It's very similar to sleeping, where the body recovers and repairs itself through the night to prepare itself to be taxed again the next day. Of course, work is important and great, especially if we really like it! Like how I like to write these blog posts, and also how I absolutely love practicing and working a sweat. But doing only that for 8 hours a day, 7 days a week etc, is just going to be too taxing on any body.
In 2013, my then-girlfriend (now wife) and I took an epic road trip around half (kinda) of America - 16 States, 18 cities, almost 6000 miles, and 2 months to be exact, but not before stopping in a small town in Lawrence, Kansas. There, I took a month to study with, undeniably one of the greatest marimba players currently, Ji Hye Jung, who was, at that time, teaching in Kansas University. During our month-long stay, it wasn't all honeymoon and relaxation - Ji Hye was strict and lessons were always intense! But she also offered periods of down time in between the days we had lessons, from outings to having a BBQ and hanging out at her place and her cat. In a lesson, she shared that one of the ways she relaxes was to visit museums as it took her mind off things. This was especially so when she was studying at Peabody, and the Walters Art Museum was just across the road. Not only was it convenient, it was good for the wallet because it was free!
My wife and I made new friends and hung out at various places around Lawrence and often drove to Kansas City (which is confusing because it's in Missouri!). It was a great time and we had a favourite japanese restaurant we went to all the time, we watched a movie for $3.75 (can't remember the exact price but it was really cheap because there were deals before nightfall), walked downtown, learned how to make sushi with friends, watched shows on netflix together, and even drove out to Missouri for some epic ribs! I can't remember the name but it was at a petrol station (gas station). But while it may seem all fun and games, I really made sure to focus when I was practicing, especially since I had just changed my 4-mallet grip to Stevens. And while I practice, my wife will be de-cluttering her laptop, or researching on places to visit in the area and for our road trip, or even helping me do score study! It truly is the best when you have such an amazing, devoted, and encouraging spouse.
Even after my concert in August, I had a couple of days of down time to relax, collect my thoughts on the concert (at the same time, thinking about how to improve it = job hazard) and more importantly to spend time with family. Thinking back to my student days, there were always times where I would take a leisure-ish walk outside school, on the way to lunch, or just getting a coffee break.
Down time is important, so I would love to hear how you spend your down time, whether it's listening to music or cooking, it will be interesting and might be useful to share different ideas of relaxation! As always, thank you for reading. In the meantime, be safe and well.