Playing the bugle requires more than lips and lungs. Playing piano requires more than nimble fingers. Really, playing any instrument at all requires sound mind and body. If you want to play well, you’ve got to take care of yourself—and I mean your whole self. Exercise is important, and so is diet. Whether you’re trying to memorize a song or your tendonitis is flaring up from too much guitar playing, there’s an herb or vitamin for that. Here are just a few of the areas you can begin improving after a visit to your local health food store.
For thousands of years, the Chinese have used ginkgo biloba to sharpen the mind and improve memory. If you need help memorizing music, this might be a good one to start with. Normal daily dosage is about 30-120 mg.
Think of your brain as a city. Vitamin B6 is what helps build all the cars, trucks, trains, and phone lines that make it possible for different parts of the city to communicate with one another.
Prevent tendonitis (string players)
Turmeric and Ginger
The anti-inflammatory effects of turmeric and ginger won’t kick in until after two months of taking daily 400-600 mg supplements, so you might want to think of these as more of a preventive measure.
If you’re a gigging musician, you know the strain of late nights lugging equipment, schlepping from venue to venue, while still finding the strength to put on a great show and woo the crowd. Coffee might be your go-to pick-me-up, but all that’s going to do is drop you after an hour. Think of yerba maté as a keep-me-up.
A popular herb in India’s 5,000 year-old Ayurvedic tradition, gotu kola has been shown to promote relaxation and improve brain function.
A lot of “calming” herbs out there—like passionflower, chamomile, and valerian root—will put you to sleep if you have too much, which is why I left them off this list. Before a gig, you want to strike the right balance of relaxed and pumped. Green tea is great for that. It’s got caffeine for the unh!, but it’s also got theanine, for the ahhh.