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Mental energy and performing

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [DB]' started by Chris Fitzgerald, Dec 16, 2005.

  1. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    As I get older and more experienced, I've been coming to the realization that so much of the difference between a decent performance and a great one has to do with being in the right frame of mind and having energy, and that so much of that has to do with personal habits such as sleep cycles, diet, and exercise. I notice that most of my best performances come when I've had a nap that day, and I'm finding more and more that eating a good deal of protein for dinner and keeping the carbs down to a dull roar at the pre-gig meal seems to help a lot as well. That, and I like to drink a large strong coffee right before I go on stage. :D

    I don't mind the occasional low-energy gig when it's a casual and nobody's really listening, but for the real listening shows I like to "train" for them a little bit by eating right and trying to stay up late for a night or two before to get my sleep rhythms a little more in sync so I don't get "gig lag" and run out of gas. Anyway, I was wondering if anyone else had noticed similar things and had any stories or tips to offer?
  2. hdiddy

    hdiddy Official Forum Flunkee Supporting Member

    Mar 16, 2004
    Richmond, CA
    I have a cousin who used to play on the French National Tennis Team back in the 80's. I visited him in Paris when I was 16 and he told me that the time that the speed at which he digested his food would sometimes decide his matches. Why?

    He would eat about an hour or two before the matched started. He said that usually people take 2-3 hours to digest your food. Right when you're done digesting, you're at your top energy level. Ideally, you want to finish your digestion right at the climax of a match. For him, his digestion was too quick (like 1-2 hours) and would run out of steam during long matches, while his opponent is just coming off his peak.

    Well something like this might not matter as much since bass playing isn't a strenous exercise, but I think there's something to be said about energy levels. Food for thought? (pun intended) :)

    EDIT: One more thing, sleep (or lack thereof) always plays a big role for me in any activity. Not so much with sleeping patterns but more about being fully rested. I always perform better when I got a full night of sleep. Also, I hate playing with a headache going on or an upset stomach that I can't ignore. Thore are big distractions in my book.
  3. mikemulcahy


    Jun 13, 2000
    The Abyss
    I think you are on the right track. Sleep patterns dont change that quickly though. The circadian rhythm has been documented to run closer to a 25 hour clock rather than 24, which certainly accounts for occasional sleep issues. You can never catch up on sleep lost though.

    Your mind set plays a larger role in energy levels than anything else. Diet can change your available stores of energy, how you apply it is up to you. The things you do that lead up to the "high energy" gig is mostly mind prep. But an excellent pattern though. The rest before the gig is paramount, having the proper calories to burn also helps.

    The pre-gig coffee gives an extra pump of methyl xanthines to block the breakdown of cAMP, gives a nice boost as well.

    Great plan though, stick with it.

  4. hoedown_j


    Mar 3, 2005
    Only a few things affect me enough that I pay attention to them near performances. I always make sure that I've had enough to eat. I don't mean that I eat a lot, just that I'm not starved because that might cause me to be kind of shakey. Since I'm dependent on caffeine, I always make sure to have some within a couple hours of performance. If I drink coffee immediately before, I'll get a little bit shakey/jittery (that's what i get for being both addicted to and sensitive to caffeine).

    The last thing is something I'm sure most people don't think much of. I drink lots of water so I'm not dehydrated and also not eat food with lots of sodium. If you ever get that feeling in your fingers when they feel all "fat" or swelled, and you can't really move them as dexeriously as usual, that's the result of dehydration and/or too much sodium. Also, if you use caffeine, you are even more likely to be dehydrated.
  5. godoze


    Oct 21, 2002
    For the last year or so I have been going to almost every job pissed off on the inside...More work than i want ? I do not not know. At any rate, As soon as i get my bass out and start warming up i start getting calmer and calmer until i start playing at which point my energy level could not get any higher. I have noticed that i could be dead tired and hungry or fat, happy and rested and the same thing happens...
  6. Jeremy Allen

    Jeremy Allen Supporting Member

    Mar 18, 2002
    Bloomington, IN
    Bass playing is a strenuous activity for me. I don't mean in the hands/arms--they're very relaxed--and it's not that I jump around or anything, but I burn a ton of calories when I play and I sweat buckets regardless of the temperature (it's actually kind of embarrassing in the summertime). Some kind of engine somewhere is running full-steam when I'm playing.
    If I don't fuel myself well before-hand, it doesn't make a difference while I'm playing but it really knocks me out when I'm done.
    And, although I don't recommend this for everyone, I often drink a little bit while I'm playing--maybe two glasses of wine over the course of a gig, or a beer at the first set break. I'm a frequent drinker anyway and will often have some wine while practicing if I don't get to practice until the evening, and being a large fellow it doesn't throw me off too much. But there's certainly no point in getting wasted at a gig and invalidating all the hours of practice.