The Sane Musician

The Sane Musician

By Huguette Lavigne

I am a musician—specifically a composer—and I’ve always tried to achieve a healthy balance between my artistic passion and personal wellbeing. One has to rein in that creative compulsion and capitalize on its power. So far, I have more or less succeeded at maintaining a healthy life balance and remaining sane!

Coupled with intense periods of concentration and isolation, the demands of composing and performing often lead to irregular working hours. I find that creating a sustainable balance is not only essential for the composer's mental and physical health, but it also enhances creativity and overall productivity. My best working hours are in the morning. I leave the rest of the day for domestic concerns, social engagement and other obligations.

One key element in establishing a healthy life balance is setting realistic goals and deadlines. While artistic endeavour is driven by inspiration, having a structured plan in place helps prevent overwhelming workloads and last-minute rushes. By breaking down larger projects into manageable tasks and allocating specific timeframes, musicians can maintain a sense of control over their workload, reducing stress and promoting a healthier work-life balance.

Moreover, the importance of taking regular breaks cannot be overstated. Composing and performing music are mentally demanding activities, and constant focus can lead to mental fatigue. Incorporating short breaks during work sessions not only refreshes the mind but also prevents burnout. Physical activities, such as stretching or a brief walk, can stimulate creativity and contribute to overall wellbeing. The challenge is to give yourself a break from those inspired moments! Find your delicate balance.

In addition to work-related considerations, discovering interests outside of music is crucial for your balanced life. Engaging in hobbies, spending time with friends and loved ones, or exploring other artistic pursuits can provide a refreshing perspective and prevent the tunnel vision that can accompany intense creative focus. This broader life experience not only enriches the musician's productivity, but also contributes to a more fulfilling and balanced existence.

Communication and collaboration play vital roles in maintaining a healthy life balance. Sharing thoughts and challenges with fellow musicians or seeking support from friends and family can provide valuable insights and emotional support. Collaboration with other artists not only brings new ideas to the table, but also offers a sense of camaraderie, reducing the isolation that composers often experience.

Proper ergonomics, such as maintaining good posture and using well-designed instruments, safeguard against repetitive stress injuries. Staying hydrated and adopting a balanced diet support overall wellbeing. Adequate sleep is nonnegotiable for optimal cognitive function and emotional resilience.

Maintaining one's sanity and productivity as a musician requires a holistic approach that combines discipline, adaptability, and self-care. By fostering a balanced routine, embracing the creative process, seeking inspiration, and prioritizing mental health, musicians can navigate the challenges of their craft while preserving their artistic passion and personal wellbeing.

May each step bring you closer to success and fulfillment.


“I became insane, with long intervals of horrible sanity”

Edgar Allan Poe


Huguette Lavigne is a Canadian pianist and composer.

Website: https://pianonotesottawa.ca/