A guest post by Maria Kim, an amazing dietetic intern with the Sodexo Dietetic Internship.
Art is an expression of thought, emotion, intuition, and desires and it is integral to the human mind, body, and soul. Musicians, specifically, use their entire body, mind, and soul into the music they perform, whether it is through daily disciplined practice or on the stage performing for grand audience.
Musicians have high and rigorous physical and psychological demands for their craft, risking development of health problems. For example, wind or brass instrument players have stress on their teeth, brass instruments increase intraocular pressure, string instruments such as the violin, viola, and cello produce skin dermatitis. Repetition, hours of practice, and awkward postures often result in playing-related musculoskeletal disorders. Piano, guitar, and harp players have high rates of playing-related musculoskeletal disorders. But unlike athletes, music students spend more hours practicing consecutively than athletes. Performance anxiety is another area of stress a musician’s body goes through, as well as long hours entailed for the actual performance. Traveling for various musical tours can also be taxing on the body.
Why is nutrition so important? Musicians have specific nutrient needs. Eating a nutritionally balanced dietary pattern has profound effects on musical performance because it enables your body to have a good foundation to handle the high stress that your body and mind goes through, and many musicians underestimate this importance.
There are various factors which can influence nutritional status, and a musician’s lifestyle puts one at risk for inadequate nutritional status. The question is how: How do I nourish my body so that I can perform at my best?
Here are some applicable tips that you can follow:
- Stick to a routine
- Eat 2-3 meals and 2-3 snacks every day at consistent times to ensure you are eating enough. This will be especially important for those long hours spent on practicing.
- Choose meals and snacks that are balanced.
- Eating different foods helps make sure you are getting the proper nutrients your body needs.
- A good basic rule of thumb to follow is to have 2-3 different food groups for a snack and 3-5 different food groups at each meal.
- Make time to plan your meals and snacks.
- Though it may seem like a waste of time, planning helps set you up for success.
- Make sure you are adequately hydrated.
- Plan to fuel your body before, during, and after performance day
- Performances can stretch from as little as 5 minutes to several hours to an entire day. Longer hours require adequate preparation but
- Don’t starve yourself before the performance. Make sure you’re full but not stuffed.
- Prepare and bring nutritious snacks that are well balanced in at least 2-3 different food groups to have in between movements (ie. Yogurt with fruits and nuts; vegetable sticks with hummus dip; trail mix; peanut butter blueberry toast/sandwich)
- Performances may require travel and traveling to new places can increase your risk of getting sick.
- Having proper nutrition can better enable your body to fight off potential infections, so that you’re readily prepared for performance.
- Fiber rich foods, which includes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts and seeds, can help with traveler’s constipation.
- Set an appointment with your Registered Dietitian
- It’s okay not to get all of this in one go. Nutrition is complicated and not easy as there are so many different factors that affect one’s nutritional status. Your health deserves special attention so see a professional who can help you perform the best music you can!
Foxman I, Burgel BJ. Preventing Playing-Related Musculoskeletal Disorders. Musician Health and Safety. 2006;54(7):309-316.
Harnsberger A. Optimize Your Performance Through Nutrition. Percussive Notes. 2011;34-35.