Canadian Musician - November/December 2017 - Page 30

BRASS Paul Baron is one of today’s most highly respected lead and commercial trumpet players. His sound is distinctly bright and powerful and carries with it decades of experience in a wide range of musical styles from jazz to rock, big band to musical theatre, and TV jingles to movie soundtracks. As well as being a performing artist for Jupiter Instruments and Pickett Brass with his signature line of mouthpieces, Paul is also an author, educator, and clinician. By Paul Baron Pack Your A-Game: How to Maintain Peak Performance as a Travelling Musician Part 2 I n part one last issue, I talked about how to be aware of and maintain physical stamina while traveling and how to warm up for the gig to keep your chops healthy and prevent the damaging effects of a strenuous touring schedule. Here, we’ll look at the bigger picture – a full week’s schedule to learn what to do and not do to maintain peak performance. Identifying Issues Compare things when you’re having a good day, week, or month with when things are not working so well to identify what it might be that causes these shifts. If you find that playing a matinee the day after a big party night doesn’t go so well, for example, the answer is pretty ob- vious, but there are more subtle messages our body sends us that we need to be tuned in to. I feel strongly that every audience deserves the best we have to give – that means the open- ing night audience and the one seeing the last show of the grueling week deserve the same quality of show and no less. So with that in mind, pay close attention to the larger picture and see if you have reoccurring patterns and if there are dips in performance throughout the week, and from week to week. Setting Patterns Here is an example. Most of the touring I do these days is for Broadway shows. A typical weekly schedule, if we’re doing one week in each city, is a travel day on Monday, often ar- riving around dinner. If we are picking up local musicians, Tuesday is a morning rehearsal for four to five hours and a lunch break. Then two hours before show time is between 60 and 90 minutes for soundcheck. Depending on how 30 • C A N A D I A N M U S I C I A N soundcheck is run and how much playing is expected of us, it can involve playing all the biggest songs of the show. Sometimes we play all those big songs first without the cast, and then again with the cast. By the time the show starts, we’ve played the entire show two to three times in rehearsal and another two times in sound check. That’s a grueling schedule. The weekly pat- tern I’ve found is that I need to be well rested for Tuesday morning. This means I need to get to bed and get some good rest before the mara- thon on Tuesday. Another pattern I have discovered that works, through much trial and error, is that I have to be very diligent about a mid-morning physical therapy (PT) warmup to start the heal- ing process early in the day on Wednesday. I’ve found that if I don’t follow this routine, I feel very stiff for the Wednesday night show. As much as I used to think that delaying playing on Wednes- day as long as possible would be best to recover from Tuesday, I found that getting the PT session in earlier was important. Another thing that works for me is to do a little bit of playing with a practice mute some- time, anytime, on Monday. I found that playing gently for even just 10 or 15 minutes helps keep my muscles from getting too stiff and it makes Tuesday morning feel much easier. I know it seems strange that playing every day versus taking the day off would actually be more beneficial, but I’ve found that the short Monday evening session helps start the PT as I sleep on Monday night. Then it’s much easier to get back in the full swing of things on Tuesday. Some might find taking a day off is better, but for me, the harder the show I am playing, the more I need to make sure I do some PT playing on Monday. If I’ve done the right things for my body on Monday and Tuesday, the rest of the week plays itself out much easier, whereas if I have not been smart about rest and PT, I find I’m always playing catch-up through the week. It makes things much harder and less fun when I’m worrying about my chops and whether I’ll make it through the week. There is also the danger of this becoming a pattern and it’s really hard to get out of when it keeps perpetuating itself. I have to really pay attention to what works and doesn’t, and re- ally listen to my body’s signals to maintain peak physical performance. When you are new to touring, or have toured many times but just starting a new tour, it’s a really good idea to keep these concepts in mind. It’s also not a bad idea to keep a log or journal to identify your patterns as the weeks and months progress. These lessons can help keep your chops safe from injury and maintain peak performance throughout the tour, and for years to come. This is based on a les- son from Paul’s new book, Trumpet Volun- tarily – A Holistic Guide to Maximizing Practice Through Efficiency, containing more ex- panded information on this subject as well as 19 chapters with music examples and exercises. The book serves as a guide to teach the player ho ] [[XXK]\˜]Z[XHYY\YYXKK