How do you cope?

August 16, 2018, 7:48 PM · Your group plays a short early evening concert and then you have trouble getting to sleep.
You play an afternoon solo concert for shut-ins and are drained and carry home the weight of their circumstances.

Replies (27)

August 16, 2018, 9:24 PM · Your concert surely brightened their day. Thats what you should carry away. For occasional insomnia, talk to your doctor. Ask about zaleplon. Thats worked very well for me.
August 16, 2018, 9:51 PM · Mediatate. Go for a stroll in the park. Talk to your significant other.
August 17, 2018, 4:32 AM · I don't.
August 17, 2018, 4:56 AM · Go and have a beer with the brass section!
August 17, 2018, 7:10 AM · Erik, from a pro's perspective, is this a common thing?
August 17, 2018, 7:24 AM · I read serious works, like philosophy, which tire me mentally and allows me to sleep easily, and make me feel better for having read the content and worked on intellectual development, and conversely make me feel uneasy when I'm not doing that and just going through daily life.
August 17, 2018, 7:53 AM · Get used to doing enough little performances that they are just part of your life - AND - try watching some British mysteries on TV from a La-Z-Boy recliner in the dark. That should shut off your brain in 10 to 30 minutes.
August 17, 2018, 10:20 AM · Interesting question. I guess I think about the more universal aspects of the music, rather than the particular circumstances of the concert I just played.

I would say that I carry an "ideal" of whatever piece I am playing in my mind, and I try to achieve that while playing. I don't ever actually achieve this ideal-- it is just a goal to point towards. But after a performance I'm happy if I feel like I've touched the emotional or psychological essence of what the ideal means to me. (I'm disgruntled if not, but these days I usually get over that pretty quickly and it doesn't happen that often).

If I'm really unhappy about how a particular performance has gone I might listen to some completely different music, music with happier associations or at least more complex and not mostly negative associations, to get the cobwebs out. And sometimes I will dance to it. Beethoven is actually really fun to dance to, especially when no one is watching ;-)

August 17, 2018, 10:45 AM · I find a long walk and the writings of St. Paul to be some great ways to calm the soul.
August 17, 2018, 11:40 AM · One thing you will learn if you see your physician about insomnia is that they do NOT recommend drinking alcohol -- at all -- as a solution. It's not because of the likelihood of addiction, because that risk attaches to any chemical approach, including "sleep aids" like diphenhydramine, Sonata, Ambien, etc. Rather it's because alcohol has been found quite ineffective despite widespread anecdotal evidence to the contrary. Your doctor will have a pamphlet on insomnia that has good general recommendations for relaxation etc. Reading is usually high on the list, but from a book or magazine or newspaper -- NOT reading from a tablet or phone. This is how I catch up on articles from The New Yorker that I've set aside. And when I'm traveling or stressed and I just really need to get to sleep, I take Sonata (Zaleplon) which is nice because the dose is small (5 mg) and the half-life is only about 90 minutes. So it puts you to sleep but you're not groggy in the morning, even if you go to sleep at 2 AM.
August 17, 2018, 12:55 PM · From a pro's perspective: regarding the emotional drain of playing for shut-ins, I actually experience the reverse. I walk away in the knowledge that for relatively little effort on my part, I have brought a lot of joy to people who are not shy in expressing their gratitude. The one situation that I do find emotionally draining is when I go with a group of colleagues to play Christmas carols at the jail. For obvious safety reasons, the inmates cannot be gathered in one large group, so we spend a couple of hours walking from pod to pod to pod, playing three or four numbers in each location before moving on. It is physically and emotionally exhausting. I always plan on having a healthy lunch at a nice restaurant and not getting much accomplished the rest of the day.

Regarding being too wound up to go to sleep after a concert, that's just how it is. I have my internal clock set to go to sleep later and wake up later than someone with an 8 to 5 job might prefer. Certain family members think I am slothful when I am not up and working at 6:30 AM, but my response is always to point out that I have to be alert at 10 PM and they don't.

Edited: August 17, 2018, 1:50 PM · "trouble getting to sleep after a concert" That is probably perfectly natural and universal. The same nerves or adrenalin or whatever it is that gets you through a concert will keep you up afterwards. I once had a restaurant job playing 8--2 am , six nights a week, every week for a solid year. Even when the show became routine I would not fall asleep for another hour. The drive home helped a little. Some lead Opera and Musical singers will not eat a big meal before the show, but will go out for a late dinner and drink afterwards. Maybe read a long, wordy novel by Dickens, Scott, even Faulkner.
August 17, 2018, 2:38 PM · I'm not considered a pro player, but I do teach quite a few people and I always carry home the weight of their circumstances. It's hard to say how common this is. I tend to be too empathetic for my own good.
August 17, 2018, 3:58 PM · Interesting responses folks. Had to look up HSP. Think my ex would disagree. Anyone for burnout? Less coffee and more protein? Booze is out and like many seniors, already prescription poor.
August 17, 2018, 9:44 PM · I need two hours or more after each rehearsal, not just after performances, before I can sleep. I have always put that down to the emotional density of the music. I don't think I want to "cope" with it other than waiting it out. Many chamber music groups drink a cup of tea (or whatever they like) together after the rehearsals in order to unwind. I do not think the sleep I am not having harms me at all.
August 18, 2018, 7:44 AM · Rocky, I think mindful meditation has a place here.
August 18, 2018, 10:37 AM · "Your group plays a short early evening concert and then you have trouble getting to sleep."

My answer to this problem was to turn 50. Now I can't stay awake past 9. works like a charm. Whether I want to or not...

Interesting that the chemical answers (beer, melatonin, Zaleplon,) outnumbered those for physical activity (walking).

Regular exercise solves helps with many issues, including those of sleep. Of all the so-called "panaceas" (including marijuana, which all the potheads here in Oregon claim solve every ailment), exercise comes the closest to actually being one.

August 18, 2018, 11:30 AM · Oh no! I thought the concert was the physical activity.? 50? Vague memory. I have a safe, legal plan for next week. I hope that this discussion helps others.
August 22, 2018, 12:26 PM · Then there is the issue of staying asleep. Alcohol can act as a stimulant, thus disrupting sleep. The aging process isn’t kind to sleeping either. There is enough in this subject to create a “” forum that Laurie could administer.
August 22, 2018, 1:52 PM · Scott, I used to recommend physical exercise to almost everyone, but I got so accustomed to no one ever doing it that I stopped even considering it as advice.
August 22, 2018, 3:37 PM · I think both of these things are not violin or music related things, strictly. Exercise is big for sleep in general and stress, and stress itself is a big factor in insomnia. There's also the attitudes you bring into these situations - You can look around at the problems of the world and get paralyzed - Global warming and all kinds of pollution, income inequality, politics, etc, but a lot of people can thrive in spite. You have to think about what you can change and what you can't, and if it bothers you that much, then the problem still exists whether you play for shut-ins or not. You can not play, but those people still have their problems; you just don't confront it directly. You can try helping them, but without a sense of perspective and boundaries, you start taking the weight of the world onto your shoulders needlessly.

Take care of yourself and your boundaries, recognize the good you do, don't be a perfectionist, exercise, say no to things you don't want to do, and stuff will fall into place.

I haven't been meditating lately, but a consistent meditation practice is a good way to manage stress (Like 10 or 15 minutes per day). Yoga or other forms of exercise are good too. Good diet and trying to be consistent with you sleep schedule.

August 22, 2018, 4:44 PM · I have this problem too: after every rehearsal and every concert, I'm too wired to sleep for 6-8 hours.

I don't use exercise as a sleep aid because it simply doesn't work for my insomnia. A regular exercise routine is a good thing, but if I do any substantial exercise, I'm going to be unable to sleep for 6-8 hours afterward (similarly to concerts and rehearsals), so I generally only exercise before 7pm and definitely don't exercise for the purpose of wearing myself out. I don't find solitary exercise helps clear the mind either, because I actually tend to overthink more while exercising than at any other time. (This is why less-strenuous exercise also isn't helpful... my mind still goes into overdrive while I'm taking a walk.) Team sports are better for stress relief because they actually take attention, but still leave me wired. Post-rehearsal/post-concert insomnia is a serious problem for me, because I find that most of the things people do to relax actually keep me awake longer.

I've also tried most of the chemical sleep aids on the market... most of them have no effect on me at all, and the few that work knock me out for 12+ hours no matter how small the dose.

So far the only solution I've been able to find is to limit the number of performance and rehearsal commitments I have per week so I can get a good night's sleep most of the time. I can run on minimal sleep 2 nights a week and 3-4 nights in the occasional concert week, but not more often than that.

August 23, 2018, 9:01 AM · "Scott, I used to recommend physical exercise to almost everyone, but I got so accustomed to no one ever doing it that I stopped even considering it as advice"

I doubt anyone will adopt an active way of life because their violin teacher recommended it.

August 23, 2018, 5:17 PM · If we defined compassion as a wish for others to be healed or free from pain, discomfort, isolation, poverty, etc feeling compassion or empathy carrys feeling sorry for others which is sorrow. Detached compassion is the hard to master trick.

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