9 Work Life Balance Ideas For Musicians

As musicians and artists, balancing our work with the rest of our lives can be especially tricky. The work of an artist is not like most. It’s erratic. And if you add a day job into the mix, like so many of us do, it can feel impossible to fulfill all of the aspects of a full, meaningful life. So let’s break down some key aspects of a well balanced life and figure out how to keep all the balls in the air, so we can live it to its fullest.

Make time for friends.

Relationships are the most important factor in our overall happiness throughout our lives. Humans are social creatures who need community. So get out of your studio or your home office or wherever you work, and make time to meet with friends. If it’s hard, start by setting a goal to go out with friends once per week. Then build from there, and it will get easier as you increase the organization and time management of other parts of your life!

Make time to eat healthy.

You need energy to be at your best. If you’re feeling tired or struggling to keep up with your work and with life, the first places to look are your eating, exercise, and sleep habits. Healthy food will fuel you. Make time for it. Buy your groceries online, learn how to prepare your own meals, or get a CSA to save time and money. Do what you have to. But make eating well a priority and you’ll be amazed how much more you can accomplish. If you’re on the road, make your first stop at each location a grocery store, to stock up on portable, healthy snacks like nuts, carrots, celery, peanut butter… anything you can snack on, on the go, without a kitchen. At restaurants, choose mindfully. Figure out what dietary guidelines work best for you and stick to them. Don’t have two unhealthy meals in a row, but let yourself indulge at least once per week.

Make time for exercise.

Exercise, like healthy food, is necessary to be at your best and to help ensure that you have the energy and focus to get everything done. It’s been said before and it’s simple: walk wherever you can, stand as much as possible, find a way to exercise that is fun for you, or even exercise with someone else! Make the time. Try something like Classpass if you get bored easily, or join a local sports team if you love community. Try everything until you find what sticks, but never give up. Do something more intense at least 3 times per week, and something gentle every other day. Then take one day off. If you’re travelling, try an app like Sworkit. You’ll get a variety of different workouts you can do with no equipment and choose what level of intensity you need for each day. Then schedule it in.

Make time for sleep.

People underestimate the importance of sleep, but it is as important as eating well and exercising, if not more, and it can be one of the trickiest factors for a musician doing late night gigs. You can get filters that turn your screens yellow after sun-down to keep the blue light from affecting your body’s circadian rhythm and keeping you up. This will help you get to sleep when you want to. Some great apps for this are “f.lux” and “twilight.” If you’re not gigging, turn off your t.v. a couple of hours before bed time and leave some time to read fiction in bed, which can help relax your brain for sleep and distract it from the issues of the day. You can use lavender or another essential oil blend on the bottoms of your feet and your temples to help your body transition for sleep. The scent relaxes you and the oils seep into your skin to help with this. You can buy portable roller versions to take with you on the road. If you really struggle with an active mind before bed, you can start a meditation practice. Something as simple as focusing on your breath can really help you to fall asleep. When possible, try to wake up naturally. This ensures that you’re body is getting all the sleep you need. When you do have to wake up at a certain time, try to schedule your evening around a bed time that is approx 8 hours before you have to wake up, and use the above techniques to help you get to sleep around that time. If you’re doing late night gigs and getting up early for a day job, you’ll probably need to catch up with naps during the day. You need to try to find a way to get all the sleep your body needs. You can experiment with this until you find what works for you. You can also use a fitness tracker to help track your sleep patterns. There are a lot of options at different price points and all of them track your sleep. If you’re ready to make an investment, the best one out now is the Oura ring, which tracks the quality of your sleep and gives you a “readiness” reading when you wake up, explaining how optimized you are for the day and giving tips about how to get the most out of your sleep schedule and your daily activity. If you stay out late doing gigs and sleep more during the day, all of these techniques still apply. Use blackout curtains to block out the light, or an eye mask while travelling. And if you’re really struggling with insomnia, you can use the trick nurses use and wear orange colored glasses during the day before you go to bed to keep the blue light of daytime from signaling your body that it’s time to be awake. Sleep is extremely important so make the quality of your sleep an ongoing interest and investment.

Figure out how to work best (multi-tasking throughout the day or assigning certain days to certain projects)

There are lots of different strategies for working efficiently. Some will say that interruptions make it hard to get focused, while others focus better and get more done when free to switch between tasks regularly. Pomodoro technique can be a great option whether you switch tasks between breaks or stick with one the whole day. For people who need to focus on only one thing, you can theme your days in advance to make sure you get everything done that you want to that week. Figure out what strategies work best for your time management and experiment with them so that you stop procrastinating and get more done.

Keep a planner.

Planners can be an obsession. They can honestly be really fun. There are a lot of different ways to approach this, and finding the right planning technique can be the key to your productivity, so experiment. The most flexible and personalizable is Bullet Journaling, which requires nothing but pen and paper. You can also find tons of tutorials on youtube and pinterest. I personally like to use an A5 binder planner with inserts for the various things I want to track, including daily, weekly, and monthly layouts, as well as 5-week goal mapping and monthly finance trackers. I use this in combination with Google Keep for lists and Google Calendar. Try a few different methods, and find what works for you!

Track your successes and reward yourself.

I learned this from my goal mapping insert in my planner. Set incremental goals in your work in advance and find ways to reward yourself as you make progress. It makes you more productive and also keeps some play in your life so you’re not completely focused on your work all the time.

Pay attention to all areas of your life.

Try to “check in” with yourself regularly, and ask yourself if you feel that you’re managing your work, your social life, your hobbies, and your personal relaxation time well. Make sure that you’re not ignoring any feature of a well-balanced life. A great resource for this is the book How to Live a Good Life by Jonathan Fields, who sums up your life into three buckets you have to keep filled, and gives exercises and questions for figuring out which areas of your life are being neglected, along with ways to fill them.

Try a media fast or limit unproductive activity.

The 4-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss includes a “media fast” exercise that’s great for helping us find more time and headspace in our media-saturated environments. You can find the details on the Tim Ferris Blog, but, essentially, the goal is to take a short-term break from most input, including social media, television, magazines, newspapers, and blogs. It’s great for carving out more time, and it’s also great for creativity because it limits how many ideas from other people are getting into your head space. I highly recommend looking into this. Simpler versions can also be limiting the amount of television you watch. I like to do this by picking my bed time, then planning to read for one hour before sleep, and planning the hour before that for tv. Then I find something else to do during the parts of my day when I otherwise might be inspired to watch tv. I’ve also had a lot of success with limiting facebook by removing the app from my phone, or at least from my homescreen, and by using an extension called Kill News Feed that removes the feed from the website on my computer.

-Guest post by Allie Mazon

Tips for the Expatriate Musicians

Thoughts & Tips For The Expatriate Musician

Being an expat is hard, but having a passion for music can make it easier. On the flip side, the blow to your music that moving countries takes can be disheartening. The key is to accept the sudden momentum stall, use your music to help build your new life, and trust that expanding your life to a new country will ultimately enrich you and your music.

The challenges of being an expat are shared by many, and some of them are universal. Your specific experience, however, will depend a lot on where you move to, where you moved from, why you moved, and what kind of person you are.

All expats experience loneliness, culture shock, and something like the experience of going to a public high-school for the first time in a new city, where everyone already knows each other and you’re the new kid who has to make new friends or else eat lunch alone every day.

This can be particularly complicated if your new country has a different official language than your home country, if the culture is significantly different, if you don’t have a day job (a place to go every day where you’re forced to be with the same people), or if you’re shy.

 

Expats are your friends

This may be a controversial statement, but expats are your friends. Before I moved to a new country I always heard that it was bad to move to a new country and only surround yourself with other expats. Some do this and create an expat bubble, never learning the local language or truly assimilating into the culture. While this is bad and I do think that you should start learning the local language as soon as possible and practice it as much as you can, the simple fact is that you share a culture with other expats that can be utterly invaluable. This may be biased on my part, due to the fact that I now live in a culture where it can be very difficult to form true friendships with locals. Depending on where you live, this can be easier or harder. No matter what, other expats (whether from your home country or not) share the experience of moving away from their families and friends as adults and trying to make it in a new culture where many of the locals’ bonds are already formed. They’re away from their families during holidays and celebrating days no one in their new country even recognizes (here’s looking at you, Thanksgiving), just like you. All of the close friendships I’ve made since moving have been with expats, and many of them not from my home country.

 

Cultural differences

Familiarize yourself with cultural differences, both those of your adopted country and your new country, as well as those of nearby countries and of the expats you meet. One of my closest friends in Portugal is from Austria. She is an entrepreneur working the field of intercultural communication and her boyfriend is Portuguese. She opened my eyes to a lot of things about Portuguese culture that were very alien to me as an American. “Now” in Portuguese really means “soon,” and, “I’m arriving,” can mean anything from, “I’m on my way,” to “I’m leaving soon.” Before she clarified to me these differences and taught me to learn and accept them, I was very frustrated. Additionally, I know that her culture and my culture share similarities around values of timeliness, which is one reason why our friendship works so well. We know what each other means when we say, “I’ll be there at 7,” and we can trust each other to satisfy the need to feel that our time is respected. So familiarize yourself with the cultural expectations of the people you meet and you’ll get along much better with people around you. In my experience in Europe, Latin cultures share cultural similarities, Germanic cultures share similarities, and Americans are actually somewhere in between. It can be fun to observe the differences and similarities and also can be a great topic of conversation, especially in Europe where people are used to being in close proximity with vastly diverse cultures.

 

Fearless networking

Music can be a great help to your assimilation and to finding like-minded people, especially if you work with a type of music that’s common in your country. Unfortunately for me, as a classical, cabaret, and performance art fusion artist, there’s not a lot of my kind of work going on in my chosen city. That made things very hard for me during the first year. It took me an entire year to find a suitable voice teacher. But if you’re a jazz musician or you’re moving to a new city specifically to further your music career, you will have it much easier. If that’s you, then you know what to do. But if you’re like me, and you’re trying to continue a musical career while living in a place that has nothing to do with your music, trust me, you can still have your career. Some countries have a more active online presence while others are more word of mouth. Talk to people as much as possible. Shamelessly ask them for their contact information and tap them for help getting into the scene. Research using Facebook, find venues, send them messages, find artists, follow them, go to events and talk to people. Use google translate. Accept that depending on where you are, this process can be slow.

Then, if you don’t already, make your presence known online. When looking for opportunities, whether local or international, having examples of your work readily available online is key.

 

Embrace the journey

It is going to be frustrating to be suddenly without the connections you had at home. It can make you feel that you’re going nowhere or that you’ve ruined your career. I truly believe that expanding your life into a new country enriches you and your career as well. Overcoming the adversity makes you stronger, and the networking required to get your life up and running again is a skill you’ll need to expand your presence in the world as a musician. Adversity is good. Embrace it and be patient.

 

A few resources that may be helpful:

Facebook – Good for finding events, venues, local expat support groups, and for connecting with other musicians.

Meetup – Good for finding events to help with making like-minded friends.

Expat forums – Great for getting questions answered in English about local specific or general expat questions. Google ones that are relevant to your new country.

Google Translate – Get the app and download the local language to use offline. Helps in daily life as well as online searches.

“Fluent in 3 Months” by Benny Lewis – An any-language learning guide that really helped me getting started with Portuguese.

– Guest post by Allie Mazon

Kace’s KCP-5 mentioned in Product Advisor’s Article: “The Best Drum Rug: Reviews and Buyer’s Guide”

The Kace’s KCP-5 was mentioned as one of the top three drum rugs on the market by Product Advisor’s Article: “The Best Drum Rug: Reviews and Buyer’s Guide.”

ProductAdvisor is a product research website started with the goal of making it easier to find the best products in life. Through extensive market investigation and expert review, they’ve created comprehensive buyer’s guides on a wide variety of topics so that you can easily find the top products across hundreds of different categories.

Product Advisor rated the drum rugs based on these specific criteria:

  • Materials
  • Non-slip Protection
  • Price

They then went into detail on features of the rug:

“When it comes to its size when folded, the KCP-5 becomes pretty compact. It uses a very similar method of folding as the On Stage model. If you are wondering whether or not you can just throw this thing into your gear bag, the answer is a solid yes.”

“One unique feature you get with this rug is the covered wooden stop bar. This tiny component was designed to give you another solid barrier that prevents the kick drum from moving around, both on the mat and with the mat.”

They also made a section of things to consider before buying in order to make sure the consumer makes the right choice for what they need. A nice way of putting the product into perspective for the buyer.

In essence, the Kace’s KCP-5 Drum Rug may not be the most feature rich rug, but for the price point, it can’t be matched.

To see more of the review and Product Advisor, check out the link below:

The Best Drum Rug: Reviews and Buyer’s Guide

Tips For Traveling With Your Instrument

Air TravelTraveling by air with a musical instrument can be a stressful, but necessary endeavor. Whether traveling as a musician alone, with your band or orchestra, artists of all kinds and genres are likely to encounter the need for air travel at some point. Navigating the labyrinth of rules, regulations and restrictions can be a daunting task for any player. Luckily, The League of American Orchestras has compiled a comprehensive list of tips, resources and links to important documentation to bring with you – so you can be prepared for just about any situation when you get to the airport.

Click the link below & Happy travels!

http://www.americanorchestras.org/advocacy-government/travel-with-instruments/aviation-policy/tips-for-traveling-by-air.html

Kaces At The Smithsonian!

Meshell NdegeocelloThe Smithsonian Institute collections now include a Kaces bass gig bag!

Critically acclaimed vocalist and bassist Meshell Ndegeocello donated her Reverend Fellowship prototype bass guitar to the Smithsonian Institute, along with her Kaces bass gig bag. The donation came after a tour of Europe and Japan, and marks the first Kaces product at the legendary Smithsonian.

As a neo-soul pioneer and renowned activist, Meshell has supported and performed at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival, presented by the National Museum of African American History and Culture.

Skid Row Joins Kaces Artist Family

In 1996 Skid Row had top ten singles, gold and multi-platinum album sales, and a No. 1 slot on the Billboard album chart. Skid Row returned to the big stage, opening for Kiss in 2000!

New plans to conquer the world came together in an Atlanta recording studio, but in a different time and a different industry, they decided to record a series of EP’s. The guerrilla burst of recording a concise EP fostered a focused intensity that was liberating. The resulting sound is rambunctious exuberance. They got older, but Skid Row never really grew up. United World Rebellion is still the youth gone wild, their musical spark still burning gasoline.

Skid Row’s second EP “Rise of the Damnation Army – United World Rebellion: Chapter 2” was released on August 6th, hot on the heels of their triumphant appearance at this year’s Download Festival. Their current 18-month long United World Rebellion Tour has blasted at full volume in over 30 countries and leaves no doubt that Skid Row is back on the battlefield in full force.

Kaces is proud to support Skid Row, and welcome them to our growing family of artists.

Kaces Goes Retro With Tweed Hardshell Cases For Electric Guitar

Tweed Tweed2Music accessory manufacturer Kaces announces the official arrival of the new tweed hardshell case for electric guitar. These vintage-inspired cases are the perfect blend of style and function, sporting a bold look, while providing dependable, comprehensive instrument protection.

With a rugged 5-ply wood exterior, a tough woven tweed outer covering, and reinforced outer valences stitched through the wood for maximum durability, the Kaces tweed guitar case is built to last. The interior features soft and striking red padding as well as a convenient storage compartment for all the essential accessories. Each case is finished with locking, gold plated latches, hinges and feet, and like all Kaces hardshells, the tweed case is backed by a 1 year limited warranty.

Kaces tweed hardshell cases are the perfect fit for guitarists looking for a little something extra.

To learn more, visit us at www.kaces.com

Kaces Rounds Out Hardshell Series With New Banjo Case

banjo1banjo2Kaces music accessories officially welcomes the all new hardshell banjo case. This latest expansion of the highly in-demand Kaces hardshell series delivers the tough construction and stylishly classic appearance the series in known for, designed to perfectly fit one of the fastest growing acoustic instruments on the market – the banjo.

With a rugged 5-ply wood exterior, a PVC outer covering, and reinforced outer valences stitched through the wood for maximum durability, the Kaces banjo case is built to last. The interior features soft padding and a convenient storage compartment for all the essential accessories. Each case is finished with locking, black plated latches, hinges and feet, and like all Kaces hardshells, the banjo case is backed by a 1 year limited warranty.

To learn more or find a dealer, visit us at www.kaces.com

 

 

Get Ready For Back-To-School With Kaces Redesigned Percussion Line!

Instrument case and music accessory maker Kaces is now shipping it’s popular and newly redesigned line of school percussion bags. These back-to-school season favorites now sport a modern new look, and deliver the function, value and durability the product line is known for.

Kaces Cymbal PorterKaces percussion line includes a broad selection of everyday items such as marching drum stick quivers, snare drum porters, bell kit porters, snare and bell kit duo porters, snare drum backpacks and bell kit bags. All porters feature durable heavy-duty wheels, convenient telescoping double-handles and either padded shoulder straps or built-in backpack straps. The Snare Drum Kit backpack model includes heavy-duty handles, a handy zippered music stand pocket, 2 additional accessory pockets for ample storage and built-in backpack straps for easy transportation. The Universal Bell Kit bag features a rigid compartment divider with pockets for sticks and mallets, an interior practice pad pocket, a large accessory pocket, ergonomic backpack straps and an adjustable padded shoulder strap. Another school season favorite, the Marching Drum Stick Quiver is constructed using highly durable 600D polyester material and is designed to make quick work of stick changes on the go. The quiver attaches easily to most marching drums with the convenience of adjustable hook and loop straps, and can hold two pairs of sticks, mallets or brushes.

Kaces also offers a full line of graphic printed practice pads, and all Kaces percussion bags come with a 1 year limited warranty.

To learn more, visit us at www.kaces.com

Kaces Redesigns Popular Cello & Upright Bass Bag Series

Kaces_Cello_BagMusic accessory manufacturer Kaces announces the arrival of newly redesigned Symphony and University Series bags for Cello and Upright Bass. These highly popular bags now feature a modern sleek look, along with all the convenient and protective features cellists and bassists love about these series.

University Cello and Bass bags feature 12mm high density foam padding for day-to-day protection, a bow pocket, accessory compartments for easy storage, and multiple double-stitched handles for convenient transport. All University Cello bags additionally include padded backpack straps.

Symphony Series Cello and Bass bags are constructed using extra-thick 20mm high density foam for maximum protection, a rich velour lining and a rigid reinforced bridge panel for added stability. Symphony Series bags also feature an adjustable front handle, two bow pockets, three extra-large accessory compartments as well as multiple double-stitched handles for easy carrying.

Both series include a 1-year limited warranty, and models are available for ¼, ½, and ¾ sizes. The University Series also offers a 4/4 cello option.

To learn more, visit us at www.kaces.com